Chef Heena Patel’s Dahi Wada

published Aug 21, 2021
Chef Heena Patel’s Dahi Wada Recipe

This chaat recipe involves the making of lentil fritters (wada), soaking them in a creamy yogurt (dahi) sauce, and then serving them with a variety of spicy and sweet chutneys.

Serves6

Prep30 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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dahi wada on plate with spoon
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Known as “dahi bhalla” in the northern parts of India and “dahi wada” (or vada) in the southern parts of India, this chaat recipe involves making lentil fritters (wada), dousing them in a creamy yogurt (dahi) sauce, and then serving them with a variety of spicy and sweet chutneys. Often enjoyed as chaat, dahi wada can also be served as a side dish. While the lentil fritters are the most time-consuming part, the recipe as a whole requires minimal effort, as much of the time involves soaking the lentils to achieve a light, fluffy fritter. 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

This dahi wada recipe is an adaptation of the best-selling dahi wada at San Francisco restaurant Besharam. Chef/owner Heena Patel is a lifelong vegetarian and grew up eating lots of legumes, grains, and vegetables. Her restaurant reflects the food of her upbringing: simple and highly flavorful Gujrati food. Unlike traditional dahi wada, where the lentils are served as puffs, Chef Patel smashes them flat, which creates a larger surface area for the creamy yogurt and the rest of the toppings. While Chef Patel prefers to leave the fritters unseasoned so her chutneys can really shine, you can spice yours up by adding ginger and chili pepper or diced green chilis and even mustard seeds to the lentil batter.

Chef Heena Patel’s Dahi Wada Recipe

This chaat recipe involves the making of lentil fritters (wada), soaking them in a creamy yogurt (dahi) sauce, and then serving them with a variety of spicy and sweet chutneys.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 cups

    peeled, split urad dal

  • 5 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 2 to 3 cups

    canola or vegetable oil, for deep frying

  • 1 tablespoon

    regular or roasted ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    Kashmiri chili powder

  • 2 cups

    full-fat plain yogurt

  • 1/4 cup

    water, plus more for soaking

  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    mild or hot green chutney, such as Maazah

  • 2 tablespoons

    tamarind-date chutney, such as Deep

Instructions

  1. Place 2 cups urad dal in a large bowl. Add enough cool water to cover by a few inches and let soak at cool room temperature overnight.

  2. Drain the urad dal. Working in batches if needed, transfer to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse until coarsely crushed, 20 to 25 (1-second) pulses.

  3. Transfer the urad dal to a blender. Add 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt and 2 teaspoons of the black pepper. Blend on high speed until a thick purée forms, about 5 minutes.

  4. Divide the mixture into about 20 (about 2 heaping tablespoon) portions. Roll between your hands to form smooth balls. (If the mixture is too sticky to roll, refrigerate for 15 minutes and try again.)

  5. Add enough canola or vegetable oil to a large saucepan so there is enough to submerge the fritters entirely. Heat over medium-high heat until 350ºF. Deep fry the fritters in batches of 4 until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.

  6. Transfer all the fried fritters to a large bowl. Add enough cold water to completely cover the fritters. Let soak for 2 minutes.

  7. Remove the fried fritters from the water. Squeeze each one until flattened to about 1/4-inch thick, trying to keep a round shape. Arrange on a large platter in a single layer in a circular pattern.

  8. Place 1 tablespoon of the black pepper, 1 tablespoon regular or roasted ground cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder in a small bowl and stir to combine.

  9. Place 2 cups plain yogurt, 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and the remaining 2 teaspoons black pepper in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.

  10. Spoon a thick layer of yogurt sauce onto each fritter. Dollop with 2 tablespoons mild or hot chutney and 2 tablespoons tamarind chutney. Sprinkle with the spice mixture.