Some of my memories growing up in Bihar, are of really sour dahi vadas served during Holi at our neighbor’s place. As if Auntyji waited in anticipation for days for the “curd” to turn sour before she dipped her sour-o-meter and decided that was it!
As if that was not enough, her vadas were hard, and often crumbled before they actually reached the little melamine bowls she served them in.
Call me spoilt, but sorry Auntyji I like my dahi vadas a little sweet and petite-size. And definitely made with real urad dal and not slices of bread you sometimes sneaked in!
Here is how I make my dahi vadas:
1 cup urad dal, soaked overnight
250 grams plain yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped raisins
2 tablespoons chopped cashew nuts
1 tablespoon finely chopped/grated ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
1 tablespoon finely chopped green chilies
Roasted cumin seeds, coarsely ground
Sweet and sour tamarind chutney
Vegetable oil for frying
A pinch of baking powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Grind to a smooth paste the urad dal. Whisk it with a pinch of baking powder and plain salt. Add just a wee bit of the chopped ginger, coriander, green chilies, cashew nuts, raisins, cumin seeds, and black peppercorns.
Heat oil in a wok, make small, bite-size dumplings of the dal batter and fry till golden brown. I usually stick a toothpick at the center of the dumplings to check if they are done. Its best to fry them in batches and not crowd the wok/pan.
Dip the dal dumplings in water for 1-2 minutes and squeeze out the water between your palms, readying them for the yogurt dip!
In a blender, churn the yogurt, black salt and sugar to taste. Plate the flattened dumplings in a dish and pour the yogurt mix. Garnish with all the chopped ingredients and chill.
Drizzle some tamarind chutney, sprinkle roasted cumin powder, red chili powder and serve the Dahi Vadas.
This is a great appetizer for the summers and you will usually find it all over India - though in its various regional avatars.