Thursday, September 20, 2012
Dahi Vada is an Indian chaat, or snack, that is make by soaking vadas (fritters) in dahi (yogurt). This version uses the GWS Lentil Pakora recipe, and takes them to the next level by soaking the just-fried pakoras in warm water(!) to soften them and remove some of the oil. This gives the once airy, crispy vadas the delicate texture of savory, spongecake dumplings. The water is then squeezed out as the vadas are flattened into patties, soaked in yogurt, doused in masala spices, and served cold. The result is a mildly spiced, refreshing vegetarian entree that is satisfying and light at the same time.
Dahi Vada is a great use of leftover Lentil Pakoras. The recipe is so simple, I won't even bother with quantities. If you're serving the Dahi Vada as an entree, plan on at least 3 pieces per person.
Lentil Pakoras, fried and drained on paper towels
A large bowl of hot water
Lal Mirchi (Indian chili powder. Try to find the Kashmiri kind - it's very flavorful, but less spicy than the Indian Lal Mirchi. You can also use hot paprika or cayenne pepper.)
Kala Namak, or Indian Black Salt, optional. (Kala Namak is an Indian mineral salt with sulphuric compounds that give it a pungent, savory taste and dark color. You can find it in Indian grocery stores and it adds an authentic flavor. If you can't find it, try garlic salt or powder, which will also add some pungent "oomph."
Plain yogurt, or dahi. (You'll want regular, thin American or Indian style yogurt, rather than Greek Yogurt.)
Season a large bowl of tap-hot water (steaming hot, but not boiling) with salt. It should taste mildly salty. Dump your fried pakoras into the water and allow them to soak for up to an hour, until they become pale and are completely saturated.
Take each vada between your two palms and gently squeeze to flatten and extract as much water as you can without breaking it. Arrange the vadas in a serving dish and cover generously with plain yogurt. Sprinkle with a mixture of equal parts lal mirchi, salt, ground cumin, kala namak or garlic salt or powder. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, to allow the yogurt to soak into the vadas.
Garnish with chopped mint and serve.