Thaiyir Vadai aka Dahi Vada aka Dahi Bhalla … call it whatever you want… This lip smacking dish is an all time favourite and dear to many a hearts, young and old. The idea of cold dahi vada on a hot summer day is simply irresistible. The dish goes back a long way, as far as the 12th century….. There are mentions of this dish’s existence in ancient Sanskrit scripture “Manasollasa” , an encyclopedia on various topics ranging from science, politics, horticluture, food science etc…. In much current times, there is an incessant debate on the inception of the dish. North Indians and South Indians both claim this dish as theirs. It will be difficult to pick sides… but ….. Like all good things, this recipe travelled… travelled long and far…and every state makes it and it tastes just as good.
Today , we make dahi vada two ways, our Udipi Ishtyle and my maa in laws version ..Masala Dahi Vada. Until I got married, I always knew the way Udipi restaurants served. My mother in law introduced me to yet another recipe… I am not sure if anyone else makes it that way….But its a family recipe and dear to my heart… I now send this recipe on its own journey…
Make it before hand as an appetizer or have it as main course ( I have already stated, we are a crazy bunch. We have it for dinner) . Best eaten when chilled.
I could have used an appe pan to make it healthy instead of the usual fried version… But the authentic flavours lie in the way the recipe is constructed plus I didn’t have the heart to make this healthy for us… but (read: aaaiiiyyyy, heavy heart emotion ) … For those looking for a healthier option, use an appe pan to make the vadas before soaking them in water….but be warned…. it’s not the same… don’t be disappointed … and dont blame me for not warning you all….
The most important tip : Never soak dal for more than 3 to 4 hours. I know, it’s not believable and difficult to break away from the habit… but follow it. This will ensure your vadas don’t drink oil at the time of frying.
Batter Test : a light and fluffy batter will float when put in room temperature water. Excess runny water will sink.
Soaking water should never be warm to touch. Keep changing the water with every new batch of vadas you soak.
Deep Fry means deep fry and it never means shallow fry or touch fry or spray fry unless you want the vadas to be hard. Oil should be enough for the vadas to float… always…. always medium heat for frying … High gas temperatures will brown the vadas from outside leaving it under cooked in the middle and low temperature will allow the vadas to drink the oil.
Vadas will float on the water until they are wet completely. Moment they sink to the bottom of the vessel, its time to squeeze the vadas between the palms of your hand. Now , don’t go at war with the humble vadas. Be gentle…. Remember, no matter how satisfying it is to squeeze the vadas (while imagining the deed with your boss’s head in place of vadas) …. they will fall apart if pressed to hard.
Follow my tips and I assure you a fail proof creation.
Let’s get going on the recipe now….
1 dal katori split Urad Dal ( without skin) soaked for 3 to 4 hrs maximum
2 cups of cold (not sour) curd/dahi
1 tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp finely chopped green chillies and ginger
1/4 tsp hing
A spring of curry leaves
For Powder Masala
5 Whole Red Kashmiri Chillies
2 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
1 Tbsp Cumin Seed
1″ long Cinnamon Stick
3 Whole pepper
Salt to taste
Oil for Deep frying
- Grind the soaked and drained dal to a smooth mixture with very little water. The batter has to be thick and smooth. Adding lot of water will make the batter runny and the vadas won’t form.Add salt to taste, hing , pepper powder, chopped ginger and green chillies and curry leaves.
- Fry the vadas on medium heat until light golden brown and straight away dip them in the water. The vadas will float until they are not soaked completely with water.
Moment the vadas sink to the bottom of the vessel, its time to press them between your palms. Like I mentioned in the tips section…. be very gentle…
- Arrange the vadas on the platter or deep dish . Keep them refrigerated until its time to pour the curd.
- Dry roast all the aromatic spices until the raw smell goes. Cool down and grind to powder.
- Beat the curd and add 2 tbsp of the powder masala we prepared.
- Pour on the vadas. Leave it in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.
- Serve with sweet date chutney ( recipe on the blog)
The second method : Udipi Style
Minus the powder masala and add sugar to the curd. Heat lil oil in a kadai , add mustard seeds and curry leaves and once the spluttering starts , add to the curd… Pour this curd over the vadas and sprinkle red chilli powder and cumin powder on top of the curd.