Dahi Bhalla is an Indian Street food as well as a festival special savoury dish. It is from Punjabi cuisine of Indian sub-continent but has its variations in other states’ cuisines too.
The only thing comes to my mind when I talk about Dahi Bhalla is the festival of Holi. It is a festival of colors in India and dahi bhalla is one savoury dish that is prepared in my home every year for holi celebrations. I have seen my mom making this dish for every holi function and now I also make it.
Dahi Bhalla is a street food. It is mainly found in all the chaat shops in India, where you also get aloo tikki, chaat papdi, dahi puri, pani puri and a variety of pakodas (Indian fritters). I am already drooling just by the mention of these.
Dahi Bhalla is basically a fritter made with dal (lentils). Dal used for making Dahi Bhalla is split black gram (without skin). Now, I have seen many people adding Moong dal also for making Dahi Bhallas. But in my view, the best dahi bhallas are those which are made entirely with split black gram.
Dahi Bhalla is
- A street food
- basically a dal (lentils) fritter
- has to be soft till center
- bursting of spices and chutneys flavor
So, making dahi bhalla is not easy. No, I am just not trying to scare you away from trying dahi bhalla at your home. All I am telling you here is that, if not made with proper technique, dahi bhalla can get spoiled easily. And so, here I am providing you a lot of tips from my experiences, which will help you to make a proper street style, soft and juicy dahi bhalla.
Tips for soft Dahi Bhalla
Soaking Dal – To make dahi bhalla, we need to soak the dal for 4-6 hours, depending upon the level of heat in your area. Now, by soaking it for a long time, we are trying to do two things. First, to make dal soft, so we can grind it well. Second, by soaking it for a long time, some fermentation will start in it. It is important, because when we will fry dal batter in oil, it will fluff nicely, only if it has been soaked well. Now, I have tried soaking dal in hot water sometimes. That does quickly make the dal soft for grinding it well, but there has always been a difference in the rise of the bhallas. So, from my experience, dal soaked in normal water for long time will give better results for sure.
Grinding – It does sound easy and yes it is. Only you have to be careful of not adding water while grinding. We have to grind dal using no or very less water. I do use 2-3 tbsp water sometimes, but not more than that. Grinding dal without water lets the grinder work on dal making it further light and fluffy. Also, if you add water to make grinding easy, you might end up having a really wet dal batter, out of which you won’t be able to make dahi bhallas. Dal should not be very coarse or fine after grinding. It should be somewhere in between texture of fine and coarse dal batter.
Beating – Yes, you got it right! It isn’t a cake but we do need to beat the dal batter. Basically, we are trying to make small fritters with a little fermented batter. So in order to make bhallas, light, fluffy and with cotton texture till inside, we need to beat it extremely well after grinding it. I would recommend 10-12 minutes or more, if you don’t see it getting fluffy. Do beat in one direction only, to trap the air inside. It will be visibly fluffy and light. Also, this is the time when you will adjust the consistency of your dal batter. Please see the video below to check the consistency of the dal. No water should be added after this step. To check if the batter is light, just drop a little of it in water. If it floats, that means it is ready for frying. If it doesn’t, well you need to beat it more.
Frying – It is also very important to know how to fry these fritters or bhallas properly. We have soaked, grind and beat the dal nicely to make it light. Now, frying is where they will actually fluff up and form shape, to get a cotton soft texture from inside.
First of all, please take enough oil for these bhallas to get fried properly. They should get space in oil to move about.
Second, oil should not be very hot or cold. The right temperature of oil is very important here. Heat the oil and bring the flame to medium low. Let it cool just a bit. Check the oil by putting a little batter in it. The batter should generally float on top and should start frying very slowly. You can tell that, by the bubbles forming on the outer side of the batter in oil. If the batter sinks in, then the oil is not hot enough.
If the oil will be too hot, then the outer side of bhallas will cook and get brown quickly, but from inside they will be uncooked. And if the oil will be less hot or cold, the bhallas will soak oil and not cook properly.
Low Temperature of oil – Once, the bhallas are in oil, you have to fry them on low medium heat only. We do not want a lot of browning on the outer side of the bhalla but a golden brown color will do. Frying on low temperature will ensure the proper cooking till inside of the bhalla.
Soaking Bhalla – Once they are done, and fried nicely, take out bhallas on a tissue paper. Let them cool a little bit at the room temperature. Then bhallas should be soaked in the luke warm water for about 10 min. After 10 min take out bhallas and soak them in another bowl of fresh luke warm water for another 10 min. This changing bowls of water for 2 times, will ensure that maximum oil will come out form the bhallas and they will become soft and juicy till center. While changing their water, squeeze them lightly. Do not press very hard.
Some other interesting recipes;
- Instant Dhokla (without dahi)
- Street style Pav Bhaji
- Samosa (perfect and crunchy)
- Alu puri
- Instant Jalebi
Serving options of Dahi Bhalla
Dahi bhalla are generally served alone with other spices and garnish. You can go creative here and follow your taste buds to add any other spices or garnish you like. Below in the method section, I have shared the most easy and famous way of serving these dahi bhallas.
They can also be served as dahi vada chaat. For that, some papdi is served as base and then dahi bhalla added on to it. Then again a variety of spices and garnish added, like roasted cumin powder, chat masala, red chilli powder, chopped onion, coriander and green chillies. You can even add boiled diced poatotoes.
They can also be served as a side dish in Indian main course menu. It is always a hit at my home parties.
Recipe video of Dahi Bhalla
For Bhalla / Vada
- Dhuli urad dal (split black gram without skin ) – 1 cup
- Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1 tsp
- Salt as taste
- Water as required
- Oil for frying
Garnish and spices
- Green chutney
- Red (imli) chutney
- Roasted jeera (cumin) powder
- Red chilli powder
- Chat Masala
- Chopped coriander
Note: All these spices and garnish are taken as required.
1.Soak dhuli urad dal (split black gram without skin) for 4-6 hours. Check, if you are able to easily press the dal between your fingers. If no, then soak for some more time. If you live in a cold place, you better soak it for over night.
2. Once dal is soft to press, drain the water and grind it in a mixer. Use minimum water while grinding or no water at all. The texture of dal should be between coarse and very fine ground dal.
3. Adjust the consistency of dal by adding little water at a time. Make sure you do not add too much water.
4. Now add cumin seeds and salt to the dal batter. Mix them and then beat the batter for about 8-10 min in one direction only, until light and fluffy. To check, drop a little batter in water, it should float. If it’s not floating then beat for more time.
5. Now, heat oil in a pan to medium hot and then bring the flame to medium low. For proper frying technique please read the important tip of frying, in the above sections.
6. Wet your fingers just a little bit and scoop out some batter.
7. Now drop this batter in oil gently. Be careful of not burning your hand or finger.
8. Likewise put all bhallas in oil. Fry them on low medium heat. Do not turn them immediately after putting in oil. Wait till one side crust is formed and then turn their sides to cook from all sides properly.
9. Once they are fried nicely and have browned a little from all sides, take them out on a tissue paper.
10. Let them cool off a bit. Notice the soft cotton texture of the bhalla in the pic below.
11. Then put them in a bowl of luke warm water for about 10 min. After 10 min bhallas will change color and soak water nicely. Details of soaking bhallas in water are given in the above section of important tips.
12. After 10 min take a fresh bowl of luke warm water and put bhallas in it. While changing the water, squeeze the bhallas very lightly. Do not press very hard. Soak in this water for 10 min.
13. Now squeeze very lightly and take out in a serving dish or bowl.
14. Take some beaten dahi, with sugar and salt mixed in it, as per your taste.
15. Pour it on top of bhallas to make dahi bhallas.
16. Add the chutneys and spices as per your taste.
17. Enjoy the softest and juicy dahi bhallas.
Also do subscribe to my food blog to get all the new posts delivered right to your inbox., “from my palate to yours”.