Dahi Bhalla is a popular form of chaat and its origin has always been a matter of debate. Not much has been mentioned about it in popular history, although almost all chaats are believed to have their source in some or the other by lanes of old towns.
One of the most convincing links to the history of Dahi Bhalla can be traced back to the Mughal Cuisine. Mughals and their lifestyle left a strong impact on our palates. It was believed that in the 18th Century, the Mughal Khansamas prepared this delight in the Mughal Kitchens using curd, herbs and spices to improve the digestion. As per a few experts, the water following through Yamuna canals was not good enough to prepare food, thus it was necessary to use other alternatives to cook, and curd was a better substitute for water. In fact, the addition of spices to chaats, made these delicacies a great delight for improving the metabolism.
Thus, the likes of Chaats and Dahi Bhalls were created to keep diseases at bay. However, this fact too has been a matter of debate for many historians and food experts.
for making vada – makes about 35-38 small vada
1 cup urad dal
1 green chili – chopped
½ inch ginger – chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
3 tablespoon water for grinding the batter or as required
½ tablespoon raisins
8 to 9 cashews – chopped
salt as required – i added ⅔ teaspoon rock salt (sendha namak)
2 to 2.25 cups curd (yogurt) – i made homemade curd made from 500 ml organic milk
½ to 1 teaspoon chaat masala or as required
¼ to ½ teaspoon red chili powder or as required
1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
black salt or regular salt as required
for tamarind chutney
½ cup seedless tamarind – tightly packed
1.75 cups water
½ teaspoon ginger powder (saunth)
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon red chili powder
7 to 8 tablespoon jaggery or as required – adjust as per your taste
rock salt or black salt or regular salt as required
1 teaspoon oil
for green chutney
2 cups coriander leaves(cilantro leaves)
1 or 1.5 teaspoon anardana (dry pomegranate seeds) or ½ to 1 teaspoon amchur powder (dry mango powder)
½ tablespoon chopped onion (optional)
1 or 2 garlic cloves
salt as required
water as required
making sweet chutney
Soak tamarind in water overnight or for 4-5 hours in a small bowl or pan.
With your hands, squeeze the pulp from the tamarind in the same bowl or pan. strain the pulp and keep aside.
Heat oil in a small pan. lower the flame & add cumin seeds and let them crackle.
Add ginger powder, red chili powder, asafoetida.
Stir and add the strained tamarind pulp. cook for 2-3 mins.
Add the jaggery and salt and cook for 4-5 mins more. the mixture would thicken. let the saunth chutney mixture cool.
When cooled, store the saunth chutney in an air-tight dry jar or container.
making green chutney
Grind all the ingredients mentioned under the green chutney list with little water.
Remove and keep aside in a small bowl.
making batter for dahi vada
First pick and then rinse the lentils for 3-4 times in water.
Soak the lentils in enough water overnight or for 4-5 hours.
Drain and add the lentils in a wet grinder.
Also add chopped green chilies, chopped ginger, cumin seeds and asafoetida.
Add water in intervals and grind to a smooth batter.
I used about 3 tbsp of water added in intervals while grinding the lentils.
Take the ground batter in a bowl. stir the batter briskly for a couple of minutes. this makes the batter more light and fluffy.
Add the raisins and chopped cashews along with salt. stir and keep aside.
Heat a kadai or pan with oil for deep frying.
When the oil becomes medium hot, add spoonfuls of the batter in the oil.
Don’t be in a hurry to turn them.
When you see the vada becoming pale golden from the base and sides, you can turn them.
Fry the vada till they become golden and crisp. drain on paper towels.
making dahi vada
In another bowl take water. and add the vada to the water. soak them for 18-20 minutes.
Take each vada and flatten and press between your palms to remove excess water.
Place these vada in the serving bowl.
Whisk yogurt till smooth. pour the yogurt over the vadas.
Top with the green chutney and tamarind chutney as required.
Sprinkle the red chili powder, roasted cumin powder, chaat masala and black salt.
Garnish it with chopped coriander leaves.
Serve dahi vada immediately or refrigerate and serve later