Recipe: Dahi Vadey

(Image credit: Jerrelle Guy)

Dahi vadey, which literally translates to yogurt fritters, are fried chickpea-based fritters soaked in a savory yogurt base. The fritters are slightly tangy and a bit sour, thanks to the yogurt. They get their heat from the spices included in the batter and in the tadka, or tempering oil, that’s poured over right before serving. This dish is a classic staple of any Hyderbadi Indian iftar spread, and a requirement on my own family’s table.

This recipe has quite a few steps, with each working to add a particular flavor element to the final dish. It’s best to prep the ingredients ahead of time to make the overall process of cooking seamless.

(Image credit: Jerrelle Guy)

Although the yogurt step is one of the last stages of this recipe, it should be prepared before the fritters are fried. The fritters go from the oil into the yogurt, where they soak up some of the liquid and pick up the tangy flavor.

Similarly, it’s helpful to measure out and assemble all the ingredients for the tadka prior to frying. That way, once the fritters are added to the yogurt, you simply have to heat up the mixture and carefully pour it over the final dish.

Dahi Vadey

Makes about 20 fritters

For the yogurt base:
3 1/2 cups water
3 cups plain yogurt
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste (see Recipe Note)
A few tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro leaves (optional)

For the fritters:
2 to 2 1/2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
2 cups chickpea flour (also known as garbanzo bean flour)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon chaat masala
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste (see Recipe Note)
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons vinegar

For the tadka (tempered spices):
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
5 to 6 curry leaves
2 to 3 dried whole red chiles
Pinch ground turmeric

Make the yogurt base: Place the water, yogurt, salt, and ginger-garlic paste in a large bowl and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. (Alternatively, just whisk until smooth.) Stir in the cilantro, if using; set aside.

Make the fritters: Place the oil in a large frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, make the batter.

Whisk the flour, curry, salt, baking soda, chaat masala, chili powder, coriander, garam masala, ginger-garlic paste, and turmeric together in a large bowl. Slowly pour in the water and vinegar while stirring constantly. The batter should be of a smooth and thick consistency.

When the oil is hot (the best way to find out is to insert a toothpick in the oil; if it bubbles, the oil is ready to go), do a quick taste test. Take a big rounded spoon or small ice cream scoop and add 1 scoop of the batter to the oil and fry until golden-brown. The recipe is of a medium level of spiciness, but if you think you need to make it more spicy or salty according to your taste, add more salt or spices as needed to the batter.

Fry the remaining batter in batches, using the spoon or scoop to add small portions of the batter to the oil. Fry until golden-brown, making sure the fritters are completely submerged in oil. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them in the yogurt base.

Make the tadka: Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Stir in the cumin, then the mustard, stirring them constantly. As soon as they start sputtering and turning brown, add the curry leaves and chiles. Finally, stir in the turmeric.

Quickly, and very carefully, pour the hot oil in the fritter and yogurt mixture. Once the sputtering of oil stops, stir the entire mixture to incorporate the oil, yogurt, and fritters together. Let stand about 20 minutes before eating.

Recipe Notes

  • Chaat masala: Chaat masala is a sweet-sour-spicy spice blend from South Asia.
  • Ginger-garlic paste: Ginger-garlic paste is a mixture of pounded ginger and garlic and can be prepared by combining equal parts ginger and garlic and mashing until smooth, or you can purchase it from Indian or Asian markets.
  • Storage: Since this recipe deep-fried, it is best eaten fresh. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Make ahead: The yogurt base can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.