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Lentil Dumplings in Yogurt Sauce (Dahi Vada) Recipe


Indian dumplings are made with lentils, chile, and ginger. They are fried and served with a fresh yogurt sauce. The dumplings may be made in advance and frozen up to 3 months. Plan ahead to soak the lentils for 3 hours.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes


  • For the Dumplings:
  • 1 cup (250 mL) moong dal (yellow lentils), washed
  • 1 green chile
  • 1 inch (2.5 cm) piece peeled fresh ginger
  • Pinch of asafetida
  • Salt to taste
  • .
  • Oil for deep-frying
  • 4 cups (1 L) warm water
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) red chile powder
  • Garnish: 2 Tablespoons (25 mL) tamarind chutney and 2 Tablespoons (25 mL) coriander chutney (optional)
  • .
  • For the Yogurt Sauce:
  • 2 cups (500 mL) fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) water
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) sugar


Soak the moong dal (lentils) in water for about 3 hours. Drain the dal.

In a food processor, grind together the dal, green chile, ginger, asafetida, and salt. Add a tablespoon of water to make the blending easier, if necessary. Place the mixture in a bowl and whisk it to incorporate air into it. (This will make the dumplings softer and fluffier.)

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Drop a teaspoon of the dal mixture into the oil; if it rises to the top immediately, the oil is ready. Working in batches and not crowding the dumplings, place a tablespoon (15 mL) of the dal mixture in the oil and fry, turning, until golden brown, about 1 minute. Drain the dumplings on paper towels. Repeat until all the dal mixture is used up.

Soak the dumplings in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, water, salt, and sugar until smooth.

Drain the dumplings. Squeeze each one between the palms of your hands to remove excess water.

In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds, stirring frequently, untl fragrant (about 1 minute).

In a serving dish, arrange the dumplings in rows. Pour the yogurt sauce over the dumplings. Garnish with the cumin seeds, chile powder, and the chutneys, if desired.

If you are on a very strict diet that abolutely does not allow for deep-fried foods, use diced boiled potatoes instead of the dumplings. The dumplings in this dish are traditionally made with chickpea flour. To make chickpea flour dumplings, replace the moong dal with 1 cup (250 mL) of chickpea flour; add enough water to make a batter for dropping consistency. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well, and proceed as above.

The dumplings can be fried ahead of time, then frozen for up to 3 months. When you are ready to use them, place them in a bowl of very hot water for 2 to 3 minutes to thaw them.

If you prefer a softer dumpling, add about 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of fat-free plain yogurt to the dumpling mixture before frying.

Recipe Source: The Spice is Right: Easy Indian Cooking for Today by Monica Bhide (Callawind Publications)
Reprinted with permission.

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