When I went to India for two weeks during Winter break, I was thrilled to be invited into the home of a family in Bangalore twice for elaborate and delicious home cooked meals. Every dish was delicious, but my and my husband’s absolute favorite dish was dal vada, or a dal pakora made out of ground channa dal. It was a naturally gluten free dish that fulfilled every fried-food fantasy I’d had since I arrived in India, where most fried foods were off limits. DH and I gobbled up way more than our fair share of this delightful appetizer, and I absolutely had to ask for the recipe. When we got back home, I immediately bought channa dal at my favorite local Indian grocer. And then- life intruded. There was absolutely no time to make elaborate dal fried dishes, so I had to leave the recipe in my recipe file. Luckily a few weeks ago the CeliacSF Bay Area support group held a potluck at a member’s home with an Indian food theme. PERFECT! I thought- time to pull out all my favorite authentic Indian recipes, including this one for dal pakora. To my intense joy, the recipe came off without a hitch- and everyone at our potluck seemed to enjoy this authentic Indian recipe. And, the nicest compliment of all- one new member had brought her mother, visiting from India, who said that while she had her own similar recipe, she really liked mine too. I was thrilled with that generous stamp of approval, and slightly startled when I came back for seconds and found only three lonely little pakora left out of a huge batch. Apparently I’m not the only GF folk to enjoy the occasional GF fried treat!
Here’s a pictorial guide to making Dal Vada:
First soak chana dal overnight. Then drain, rinse, and grind it in a food processor with garlic and ginger until it’s a nice, smooth dough.
Then mix in all the other ingredients, including cilantro and red onion. Form into little balls, flatten, and deep fry until cooked all the way through and deep golden brown.
And, here’s a video for a similar recipe using combined dal:
And, if you want another video, here’s a great video showing in great detail how to make authentic dal vada
By the way, channa dal is a dal that I really enjoy. It’s a yellow lentil similar to yellow split pea, but a little larger. It almost looks like a dried corn kernel. It’s fantastically low on the glycemic index, and tasty too. You can do lots of things with channa dal. If you’ve got channa dal left in your pantry after making this yummy recipe, try one of these recipes:
You can also try my Mint Cilantro Chutney Recipe
with this dal pakora recipe
if you have some mint on hand. Enjoy!
And, here’s my post describing the dinner party in Bangalore where I first enjoyed this recipe.
*IMPORTANT REMINDER: The Adopt-a-gluten-free blogger deadline is July 7th. Please send me the URL of your post about your adopted blogger, photo, and description of the recipe NO LATER than this date, as I will be flying to Japan on the morning of July 9th. If you don’t get your entry in by this date, you may not be included in the roundup until (retroactively) in early August… You can email me at seamaiden399(at)gmail[dot]com. Thanks guys and can’t wait to see your posts!
Chana Dal Pakora or Dal Vada Recipe- revised
250 gm (8.8 oz) Bengal Gram (Channa/ Chana Dal)
1 1/2 medium red onions, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
2-3 finely chopped green serrano chili
2-3 cloves (Loung?)
1 stick (1 inch) cinnamon bark (dalchini)
salt to taste
Cooking Oil for deep frying
Chutney to serve- mint or cilantro chutney is lovely. Mint AND cilantro chutney is also nice. A red tomato chutney or even ketchup offers a nice contrast.
Soak 250 gm. (washed) Bengal gram for 5-6 hours. Strain the water and grind the strained dal along with crushed garlic, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon bark. It’s hard for the food processor to break up the cinnamon bark, so make sure to start with it. You may have to break up pieces by hand. Put the ground mixture in a bowl and mix finely chopped onions, fresh cilantro leaves, salt, and green chilies. Mix it well with spoon or by hand. Make round, flat patty shaped balls and deep fry on medium flame in oil heated on medium heat. If the oil is smoking, it’s too hot! I find that it is very easy to burn the first few while trying to get the temperature right, but you’re shooting for a cooking period of about 2.5 minutes, then turn for 2.5 minutes more. If you fry them too fast, the inside will be raw, so you really want that type of extended frying period.
*Tip: Before you start frying, set up a cooling area with an (edged) cookie pan and a cooling rack. You can line the cookie pan with paper towels if you like, but place the fritters on the rack when they’re done. Then the oil can drip down but the fritter won’t get soggy like it would on a paper towel.
This is a South Indian recipe that our friends (originally from Northern India) had been introduced to by their son’s caretaker. They liked it so much they adopted the recipe- and after weeks in India drooling over all the gluten containing fried snacks I couldn’t have, it was a thrill for me to enjoy this in their home. I begged them to make it again when we visited their house a second time- and it was just as wonderful as I remember! Probably my favorite thing I ate over the entire duration of our trip. :)
I finally made this recipe in my own kitchen on the first day of summer because my local Celiac support group was having a potluck with an “indian foods” theme. I wanted to bring all my favorite recipes that I discovered while visiting India, so I made this recipe, as well as homemade rasgulla and aloo jeera. It was all sooo yummy! And everyone gobbled up the Dal Vada, because as DH put it- of course everybody wanted gluten-free fried goodness. :)
Cilantro Chutney Recipe
1 1/2 chopped, de-seeded serrano chili
3 tbsp lemon or lime juice
3/4 inch ginger
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp. oil
dash of asafoetida/hing (use one made from Rice Flour, like Whole Foods)
1 very large bunch chopped cilantro or 2 medium bunches
1 tbsp sugar (or less, taste and adjust to your preference)
Combine everything in a food processor except for the cilantro and sugar. Add the cilantro a bunch at a time and combine. Add 1 1/2 tsp sugar, taste, and add more if you like. You can also add more salt or lemon juice if you prefer.
These are perfect frozen in ice cube trays and defrosted as needed. It’s best to freeze them as soon as possible after making the sauce to preserve color and flavor.
Manjula suggests combining 1 part chutney to 3 parts yogurt for a dip, 1 part chutney and 2 parts cream cheese for a sandwich spread (Me: how about with cucumber slices? Yum!), or even as a component of a vinaigrette.