Monday, 30 May 2011

Dahi Vada

This dish is not indigenous to the coastal Bengali platter... or so I thought. Apparently, biulir daaler bora is pretty big in some parts of Bengal, and a precious ass I'd have looked had I not been enlightened at the nick of time.

Well, it's not my fault if my education has been left incomplete by parents who withheld this traditional snack from me. A girl learns what she eats, and I most certainly haven't eaten biulir daaler bora at home. Till last week, that is, when my mother celebrated the onset of her summer hols by making this lovely sweet n' tangy snack on a Sunday morning. And informed me condescendingly that of course biulir daaler bora is eaten in Bengali households. Just not in hers, because isn't biuli just so bland when compared to, say, the crunchy sweetness of mushur?

Hmph. Anyway, here's what you need:
For the vada -- biulir daal (split urad), hing (asafoetida), salt, chopped green chilies, onions if you like.
For the yogurt sauce:
Thick unsweetended yogurt.
Sugar, flavoured salt.
Tamarind -- whole or paste -- dissolved in a little water.
Whole jeera/cumin -- dry-roasted and ground into a powder.
Coriander leaves/cilantro -- washed and chopped.
Clove and cinnamon powder -- optional.
Aamchur powder -- optional.
Sheu/jhuri bhaja -- little sticks of fried spicy besan batter. Also optional, but highly recommended.

First, soak the biulir daal overnight in cold water. In the morning, drain the water, wash the daal a couple of times, then grind it, either manually or in a mixie with a little warm water. Some people bypass all this trouble and toil by buying powdered biulir daal and making a thick batter with it by mixing in warm water. Feel free if this suits you better.

After the daal has been ground (or the powder batter-ed), cover and keep in a warm place for at least three hours for the daal to foment. I should add here that my very impatient mother frequently forgoes this step, and she hasn't been arrested by the food police yet.

Now add the chopped onions, green chilies, a pinch of hing made crumbly by rolling between your thumb and forefinger, and salt. Substituting flavoured salt (locally, beet-noon) for white salt is a very good idea. I've also seen some people add other seasoning to this batter (a friend used to add chopped tomatoes, but she ate it without the yogurt sauce) because, as my mum contemptuously pointed out, biulir daal is rather bland.

Whisk the batter briskly for a few minutes, then drop teaspoonfuls of it in bubbling oil, making between one to four vadas at a go, depending on your expertise. And oh, always use a wok for this. Your batter will lie spinelessly at the bottom and drink oil if you use a flat skillet.

Drain the vadas, and soak them for at least an hour in salt water. This makes them soft and pliable. Also eases out oil.

Now, the yogurt sauce. Here are the notes and pictures from the last time I made it. Since that turned out really, really well, I've stuck to the recipe like leech to limb.

Disgusting, aren't I? :-)

Anyway, make a slightly thinner version of that tangy-sweet yogurt sauce, and pour it over the vadas. Garnish with dark green coriander leaves and bright yellow sheu/jhuri bhaja. Dahi vada, ready for gobbling! Enjoy it while this hideous summer lasts, folks.


Dea-chan said...

It certainly sounds bland. But I'm not silly enough to attempt grinding daal by hand again! You'll just have to make it when you're here.

Rimi said...

I can't grind *anything* by hand! Maybe it's time to tailor ideologies to food processors... =)

kaichu said...

I hate biulir daal. Can you make it out of any other kind?

Anonymous said...

DAHI VADA one of my fav dish.

Rimi said...

I did once make these out of mushur daal, Kaichu, but they *really* don't go with the yogurt sauce. The blandness of biuli is probably what makes the sauce work, I think.

Dea-chan said...


captcha being: ovelikin. you licking any ovals lately?

Dea-chan said...

So where's YOUR new post girlie? I should chant at you! :-P

Magically Bored said...

Somehow, this is one dish I've never liked, even when it's made really well. Strange.

dipali said...

We also make these with split green moong, where you soak the dal overnight or for a few hours and then rinse off most of the green skins, which is a tedious process, and then grind it and hand beat it till fluffy. However, the resultant moong dahi pakodis are absolutely soft and melt in the mouth, and are far better than those made with washed moong dal(the pale yellow one. These we fry without the addition of salt or spices. The rest of the procedure is the same, more or less.

Rimi said...

I must try this. We have quite a bit of green moong at home that no one seems keen on using.