Dahi bhalla is a very common dish in Indian cuisine. Hot fried lentil fritters are soaked in cold water, gently pressed then smothered in a thick yogurt sauce. What makes the dish so special is the combination of sweet tamarind chutney that marries very well with the tanginess of the yogurt. It can be eaten as a snack or appetizer. The dish may be fried, but it’s packed with nutrition so you can enjoy it without feeling that guilty.
For added flavor, I added both chopped dates and date syrup to the tamarind chutney. This dish can be prepared in advance and assembled at the last minute, which is very convenient. Serve with cilantro and mint chutney on the side and you’ll have yourself a very flavorful appetizer.
1. Info for Dahi Bhalla Recipe (Indian Lentil Fritters in Yogurt Sauce)
- Cook Time: 40 mins
- Total Time: 4 hrs 40 mins
- Servings: 8
- Calories: 675kcal
2. Ingredients for Dahi Bhalla Recipe (Indian Lentil Fritters in Yogurt Sauce)
- 3/4 cup urad dal
- ¼ cup moong dal
- 1 Serrano green chile pepper (optional)
- 1-½ cups water, chilled
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups peanut oil
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 1-¼ teaspoons ground cumin, slightly toasted and freshly ground
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup tamarind concentrate
- 4 tablespoons jaggery, grated
- 8 Medjool dates, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons date syrup (optional)
- 2 teaspoons fresh mint, for garnish
- 1 teaspoon black salt (see tips), for garnish
- The night before… Soaking urad dal and moong dal: In a bowl, wash the urad dal and moong dal thoroughly. Pick out and discard any badly-shaped lentils, then soak them for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- The following day… Drain as much liquid as possible. Set aside.
- In a large colander, place the yogurt in a double-layered cheese cloth. Wrap the yogurt in the cloth. Make a knot at the tip and suspend it over the colander using chopsticks. The colander is not essential but is quite convenient if the knot breaks, so you can gather the yogurt again in the cheese cloth without starting over. Place a larger bowl underneath the colander to collect the whey (yogurt liquid). Let it sit for a couple of hours. Drain as much liquid as possible.
- Carefully unwrap the yogurt and transfer to a bowl. Whisk the yogurt using a fork until smooth. Add ½ teaspoon ground cumin, salt and a pinch of red chili powder.
- Prepping the chile: Stem, seed and finely chop the chile pepper. Set aside.
- In a blender, combine the soaked dals and chopped chile (if used). Drizzle with water (about 1 cup) for a smooth flow. Process until the batter has a smooth, yet thick consistency. Add more water if necessary.
- Transfer to a large bowl. Season with salt. Whisk the mixture to make it more airy. Whisking gives the batter a fluffy consistency. Add more liquid if necessary (up to 1-½ cups of water total). The consistency of the batter should resemble a thick pancake batter.
- Layer a cooling rack, previously lined with paper towels if you like, on top of a baking sheet (for easy clean-up of the drained oil).
- In a heavy-bottom pan, heat the oil for about 2-3 minutes over high heat. There should be about 1-½”-high level of oil. Wait until the oil is slightly bubbly (not too hot).
- Test the oil by dropping a teaspoon of lentil batter into the hot oil. It should float but not swell.
- Place 1-½-tablespoon mounds of lentil batter at a time in the hot oil. Place up to 8-10 fritters per batch.
- Fry in batches. Make sure the fritters don’t touch each other. Lower the heat to medium-low for even cooking and to prevent them from browning too fast. Deep fry for about 5 minutes per batch until golden. Flip each piece using a spider skimmer and cook for about a minute until crispy on both sides. Delicately lift each fritter, draining as much oil as possible, and transfer them onto the cooling rack. Continue with the rest of the fritters. This recipe yields 24 fritters.
- Fill a large glass baking dish with cold water. Place the freshly fried fritters in the water. Let sit for about 4 minutes. Squeeze out as much excess water as possible, flattening the fritters into patties. Transfer to a platter. Set aside.
- In a non-stick saucepan, dissolve the jaggery with 2 tablespoons of water over high heat. It’s important to carefully watch the jaggery; as soon as the edges of the saucepan start caramelizing, immediately lower the heat to medium-low. Don’t let the jaggery get too dark brown or it will taste burnt. Add the chopped dates, tamarind, date syrup (if used), a pinch of red chili powder, remaining ground cumin and salt.
- In a mini-blender (or a regular blender if you don’t have a mini), mix until smooth and thick. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water for a smooth flow.
- In a large, deep baking dish, spread a thin layer of yogurt sauce, add the fritters. Cover the fritters with the remaining yogurt. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- When you’re ready to serve, spoon the date-tamarind chutney over the dumplings.
- Garnish with fresh mint. Sprinkle with black salt.
- Serve immediately with mint chutney on the side if you like.
- Bon appétit!