Gluten Free Vegetarian Indian Recipes: Dal Vada/Dal Pakora and Cilantro Chutney Recipe

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:

powered by

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:

Channa dal with Spinach Recipe
Sukhi Channa Dal Recipe
Another Channa Dal Recipe
Spicy Channa Dal Recipe

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
50 gm.(1.75 oz( Ginger (finely crushed but Not paste)
1/2 or 1/4 head of garlic (finely crushed)

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.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

15 Responses to “Gluten Free Vegetarian Indian Recipes: Dal Vada/Dal Pakora and Cilantro Chutney Recipe”

  1. These look fantastic! We are welcoming an exchange student into our home tomorrow (from Spain) and I’ve been looking for some good (and vegetarian/GF) recipes to make while she’s here – these will definitely be on the menu!

  2. Hi Nancy- Wonderful! I hope she has a great visit. Maybe she can share some of her favorite recipes with you, too. :)

  3. oh my goodness those look luscious! Beans and I have a mixed relationship, but it’s slowly improving so I may just have to give these a go. But…can they be baked? I’m not a deep frying kinda gal.

  4. Hi Cheryl,
    I’m not sure how well it will work to bake these because it is ground, soaked whole bean and I’m not sure it will get the same bready texture inside if you bake it rather than fry it.

    I did a web search and found a few references to baked pakora, but they are a bit different:

    This one uses already ground flour so it’s more like a bread product but it does sound lovely:

    This is from a different cuisine, but similar idea with a baked falafel. I do recommend flattening them into patties rather than balls, and you might try dehydrating if you have a dehydrator, or pan frying in a little olive oil.

    I’m really not sure if baking will work- one idea might be to dip them quickly in hot frying oil to get a good texture and then bake them- that way they’d at least have a little crunch without absorbing as much oil. I think the baked french fries do something similar.

    Hope this helps! It’s really a yummy recipe.

  5. Yum, yum, yum. Both the pakoras and cilantro chutney look great. I have been digging Jeena’s Kitchen’s Onion Bhaji recipe (from Round One of your fabulous Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger event) which is I guess a kissing cousin of the pakora, maybe twice removed, and others may want to check that out since her recipe calls for baking the bhajis. I’ve found that flipping them during baking helps get them crispier and we also sub in chickpea flour for the buckwheat for a different taste.

    The cilantro’s starting to bolt in my garden so I think I will make some chutney tonight and freeze some. Thanks for the post!


  6. Very Very visually appealing…great presentation

  7. I wish I was adventurous enough to make all of that! It looks de-lish!

  8. [...] up!) I also couldn’t resist making a nice homemade pico de gallo recipe and pulling out some leftover cilantro chutney. Just squint your taste buds up a bit and it becomes mexican-food-appropriate, honest. Thanks to [...]

  9. Seriously? Whole foods has hing with no wheat? I have been looking for that for 2 years!!! It is ironic to read this post as I am catching up on my blog reading and already planned to fry up some pakora this eve for Indian night. I found a bunch of fresh methi/fenugreek at the market and must make use of it. Are you able to find curry leaves out there in CA? I am sure you can, but if not, I will ship you some. They are also great in pakora. I usually make mine with garbanzo flour, but must soon try the chana dal method. It is a great way to get the BF to eat his beans and he doesn’t even know it! Perhaps we will have to swap cilantro mint chutney recipes!

  10. [...] Indian Dal Vada/Dal Pakora Madras Spinach [...]

  11. [...] evening I went through with my plan to make delicious, crunchy and decadent Dal Vada, otherwise known as dal pakora or dal fritters. We first had this recipe in India at the house of [...]

  12. I’ve been pulling cubes of this cilantro chutney out of my freezer baggie and nuking them for a minute in the microwave and then mixing with plain yogurt for a quick raita for my bhajis. Yum! Thanks again for this recipe.

  13. [...] South Indian Dal Vada/ Dal Pakora- Dal lentil [...]

  14. [...] made Dal Vada, or Dal Pakora, a delicious recipe I encountered at a dinner party in Bangalore, and cilantro chutney. My friend made a delicious Veg Pulav recipe as well as a lovely dal dish made with Toor dahl. I [...]

  15. [...] a generous sprinkling of salt, it is simply divine. For a real treat, you could whip up a batch of Cilantro Chutney, although traditionally bajra roti is paired with a robust Garlic Chutney, Lahsun Ki Chutney. [...]

Leave a Reply