Dahi Vada

Dahi Vada 1

“Whip it as long as your hands can take it, and then whip some more. That’s what makes vadas melt in your mouth” mummy would tell me with her fingers buried inside a bowl of smooth urad dal paste. Weather outside was perfect, not too hot and neither too cold, but inside the kitchen, with all that cooking marathon going on, it was steaming hot. A steady stream of sweat kept trickling down her forehead and she kept wiping it with the corner of her yellow cotton saree, which had a gold and red border. Like last year papa again promised to put an exhaust fan in her kitchen on next Diwali. Like last year she kept saying it isn’t worth spending so much money.


Sitting on a wooden step stool while waiting for the oil in her wok to be ready, she was trying to teach me how she made her ever so famous dahi vadas. I, on the other hand, found those flaky mathris she fried that morning, more intriguing. I would get a scolding for not paying attention. “You would wish you had listened to me now, when you make this in your own kitchen after marriage. So stop eating and observe carefully”, she would say. I continued to dismiss all of that and instead asked where she had kept her sweet and tangy mango relish which might go well with those delicious mathris.


She would fry more than fifty vadas for Diwali, giving every single portion of batter a good whip with her hand before dropping exactly the same size dumplings into hot oil. No measuring spoon and still all fifty of them would look exactly the same and would be equally soft. I don’t know how she did it because well, I did try doing the same in my own kitchen after marriage and failed miserably! I consoled myself – it must have something to do with the heat in her kitchen that made her vadas softer than mine. I’m sure even hers don’t come out as amazing anymore, considering papa has now put an exhaust fan AND air conditioning in her kitchen!


Last Diwali I gathered the courage of making dahi vadas again, this time for a friend. Once again, I asked mummy for the recipe. “This time tell me everything in detail” I demanded. She never follows a recipe. Its all about eye balling and experience in her cooking but she tried her best to be precise this time. I tried my best to follow. They did not come out as good as hers but they were not half bad either.
This post has been sitting in my archive from last year. Finally, I am sharing it today. Hope it takes you back to your special moments like it did for me. Have a beautiful Diwali and a spooky Halloween!

Ingredients: Serves 10-12
For the Vadas-
1 ½ cup washed and split Urad Dal (Skinless Black Gram Lentil)
2 tablespoons Ginger (freshly grated)
¼ teaspoon Asafetida
1 teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
Oil for Deep Frying

For Dahi (Spiced Yogurt):
3 cups Yogurt
1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder (adjust to taste)
1 ½ tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Chat Masala (Can also use store bought)
Hot Cilantro Chutney (to taste)
Tamarind Chutney (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Water (as needed)
Cilantro (for garnish)

Wash thoroughly and soak Urad Dal in water overnight or for at least 6 hours.

Drain the soaking water completely and transfer the soaked dal into a grinder of a food processor. Add rest of the ingredients for Vada except for baking soda. Add up to ¾ cup of water (slowly add more if needed). Grind it into a thick smooth paste. In this case try to add as little water for grinding as possible, though enough for the blades to run smoothly.

Transfer the lentil paste into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add baking soda and now using your hand or a whisk, whisk the paste vigorously rotating your hand in a circular motion in one direction. This helps making the paste light.

Heat oil in a deep fryer.

Wet your palms or place a wet plastic wrap on the palm of your one hand. Drop a dollop of Urad Dal paste (about the size of a small lemon) on your palm. Shape it into a circle.

Carefully slide the vada into the deep fryer. Fry until its golden brown in color.

Once done, fish the vadas out of the deep fryer and drop into a bowl full of water (if serving immediately) or drain excess oil in a paper towel (if planning to serve later) and drop them in water when prepping to serve.

Let the fried vada soak in water for 3-5 minutes. Then lift it in one hand and give it a light squeeze with the other squeezing excess absorbed water out. Place them on a serving dish.

For spiced yogurt (or dahi) – Mix all the ingredients together in a big mixing bowl. Add water depending on how thin you want the yogurt to be.

Pour as much spiced yogurt as you like over the vadas. Garnish with cilantro and serve.


  1. Thanks for posting mouth watering recipe I am not adding baking soda in vada if you like you can
    try thanks
    Please visit my blog when you get chance

  2. Hello again Prerna! This is one of my all time favourite dishes…I could eat piles of the stuff. In fact, as a teenager if was one of the first things I practised. Your recipe is great, fluffy and moist looking. Your pics are beautiful too. X

  3. I love dahi vada. I didn’t grow up eating them and have no nostalgia attached to them. Loved reading your memories attached to the fluffy vadas. My maa is here and I always say the same thing. Whatever Maa cooks, tastes better as she has the experience and affection to cook them for her loved ones. We will sooner or later be there, trust me. the hard work matters a lot. beautiful posts as always.

  4. I want to have an Indian feast at our house using all your recipes!! Only problem is I’m not sure where to get many of the ingredients. Do you know of any places in the Denver area that might carry some of the more exotic items?

    • Hi Tiffany,

      What kind of ingredients are you looking for? Indian food is becoming more and more popular in the US now that there an Indian store in every town and city. I have friends in Denver who frequent these Indian stores. I’m sure you will find one in your area too. Worth checking! :-)

  5. I love reading your post, I always take trip down to memory lane with you! Dahi Vada was the Diwali day tradition back home and you truly captured the hustle-bustle of kitchen. Gorgeous pictures too.