For me, no festivity or special occasion is complete without Dahi Vada. My first memory of this dish, made of skinned and split black gram and dipped in creamy yogurt, dates back to my second birthday, when Mom had made Dahi Vada along with various other delicacies for the guests. While I don’t remember any of the other dishes she had prepared that day, the taste of Dahi Vada had left me so mesmerized that it remains my favorite till date. Even if we are eating out on any occasion, I make it a point to make Dahi Vada at home. Now since it is Diwali tomorrow, there is no way Dahi Vada can be left out of my menu. And there is no way I could have NOT shared my favorite dish with you! Here’s how you can make it:
1 cup split black gram (dhuli urad dal)
1/2 inch piece ginger
1 green chili
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
5-6 black peppercorns
1 1/2 cups thick yogurt (beaten)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon rock salt
1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
4 tablespoons tamarind chutney (sonth) (learn how to make sonth here)
2 litre water
1 tablespoon salt
Oil (to fry)
Soak the split black gram for 3-4 hours. Drain the water and transfer to a grinder. Add ginger, green chili, asafoetida and black peppercorns. Adding a little water, grind into a thick paste. Remember to keep the batter thick, or the Vadas won’t shape well. To test if the batter is ready for frying, drop a spoonful of the batter into a vessel filled with water. If the batter floats up, it is perfect for frying.
Now heat oil in a frying pan. Wet your palms generously with water and take a large spoonful of the batter on your palm. Flatten it gently and poke a hole with your finger in the center to shape it like donuts. Deep fry these Vadas in batches of 6-8 on medium heat till they are light golden in color, approx 5 minutes. We don’t want the Vadas very crisp, as good Dahi Vada melts in the mouth.
Your fried Vadas should look like this:
Once the Vadas are fried, drain them on a paper towel and allow them to cool. Then heat water in a large pan till lukewarm. Add 1 tablespoon salt in the water and soak the Vadas in it. Allow to stand for an hour. The Vadas will absorb water, swell up and become soft.
Add salt and sugar to the beaten yogurt and whisk well.
Gently press each Vada between your palms to squeeze out excess water. Place in a bowl and top with beaten yogurt. Sprinkle a pinch each of rock salt, roasted cumin powder and red chili powder over the yogurt. Finally, drizzle some tamarind chutney over the yogurt. You may also add chopped coriander leaves and sev for garnish. Serve cold.
Eat, drink and be merry! 🙂
NOTE: If you do not wish to undertake the painstaking task of shaping the Vadas, simply drop spoonfuls of batter into hot oil and fry. Follow the rest of the procedure as given in the recipe. This variation of Dahi Vada is called Dahi Bhalle and is popular in North India.