When my dad was posted to Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, we got acquainted with this amazing family, who coincidentally shared the same surname as ours. The daughter, Pallavi, became a close friend of mine in spite of the age difference we shared. I was in college during my dad’s tenure in Jaisalmer but whenever I visited, she and I would get together and although there wasn’t much to do in the city, my stay was always memorable. Her parents too would make sure that I had a good stay while I was visiting mom and dad.
Pallavi’s mom, Swati aunty, used to make the most amazing Dahi bhallas- light and airy bhallas that melt in your mouth. The first time I ate them I chowed down 4-5 in one sitting and got a to-go box of more back home with me. My mom took the recipe from aunty when we left Jaisalmer because all of us agreed that they were the best bhallas we had ever eaten.While my mom made an honest effort later to make them and they always turned out good, they were never like aunty’s. Aunty maintained the secret to the light and fluffy vadas lay in beating the heck out of the batter, but I think she just had magic in her hands.
As mentioned in a previous post, my mom is in town visiting, which means I am getting some respite from cooking. The other day she made dahi bhallas, her quick channa masala and bhaturas. I could not be more grateful for that meal. It was so good, and the bhallas actually turned out exactly the way Swati aunty made them- soft and airy. Today I am sharing her recipe for dahi bhallas/ vadas.
Dahi bhalla is a popular indian dish made with deep fried lentil dumplings (bhallas or vadas) that are served in yogurt (dahi) and topped with roasted cumin powder, red chilli powder, date-tamarind chutney and/or mint chutney.
Generally these vadas or bhallas as we call them are made from urad dal/ split black lentils. In UP though they sometimes make vadas from moong dal. While dahi bhalla/dahi vada is a popular way to have these urad dal dumplings, in south India, another popular way to serve the vadas is with sambhar or some use them to make bonda soup.
The recipe listed below makes quite a few vadas, and generally my mom freezes extra vadas. I took her suggestion and kept 10 vadas to serve immediately and the rest I wrapped in ziploc bags with 8 each in a single bag. I froze three such ziploc bags. If you choose to freeze the extra vadas, when you are ready to use them for dahi bhallas, just defrost the vadas for a bit and then let them soak in boiled water for 15-20 minutes, before using them to make dahi bhalla.
When I got married, my mom gave me a small diary with a few handwritten Indian recipes she thought I would find useful. I had never cooked indian food before I got married, so when I did start cooking once I came to the US, these recipes came very handy. One of the recipes in the diary was for aloo gobhi- a spiced potato and cauliflower indian dish. A favorite of many and a relatively easy and no hassle dish to prepare.
My mom is in Canada these days. She came to Canada to spend some time with my grandparents, since they were both very ill. She could not meet my grandmother before she passed away but was able to spend some time with my grandfather. She stayed on to spend time with her brother and his family in Canada and tomorrow she comes to visit and stay with me for a month. The other day when I was talking to her she mentioned that she had made aloo gobhi for lunch and since I had not cooked this dish in a while I thought of making it today. It also gave me an opportunity to click pictures and post a recipe for Garam Masala Tuesdays.
I have tweaked the original recipe a little after making it several times to suit my liking. In the original recipe, my mom did not mention kasoori methi or cinnamon sticks, but I like the added flavor that both bring to the dish. You can leave out the kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) if you cant find them but they are easily available at any indian grocery store. So is amchoor powder (dried mango powder), but if you can;t find it, use lemon juice.