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 didn’t come out have as good as I remember hers. But maybe that has more to do with my memories attached of her making them, than the recipe itself? To me the ones I make can never taste as good as hers!


What is a Dahi Vada?

Dahi vada is a popular Indian snack that consists of lentil or gram flour dumplings known as vadas, which are deep-fried until crispy and golden brown. These fried vadas are then soaked in thick and creamy yogurt seasoned with spices, creating a delightful contrast of textures and flavors in every bite.

Why is my Dahi Vada not soft?

To ensure that your dahi vadas turn out soft and fluffy, it’s crucial to follow a few key steps during the preparation process:

  • Use less water: When grinding the soaked urad dal (skinless black gram lentils) to make the vada batter, make sure to add as little water as possible. The batter should be thick and smooth but not watery, as excess water can lead to dense and heavy vadas.

  • Add Baking Soda: Adding a small amount of baking soda to the vada batter just before frying helps in making them soft and airy.

  • Soak Vadas in water after frying: Soaking the fried vadas in water after frying and before adding yogurt helps in making them soft and moist. This step allows the vadas to absorb moisture, making them tender and more enjoyable to eat. 

How to make Dahi Vada (Dahi Bhalla)?

As intimidating as the long recipe card might look here, making dahi vadas is easy. You just need to follow a few simple steps. 

  1. Soak urad dal and moong dal in water for 4-6 hours, then grind to a smooth paste.
  2. Add some baking soda to the batter, then beat well to make it fluffy.
  3. Heat oil in a pan, drop sdollops of batter to make small vadas, and fry until golden brown.
  4. Soak the fried vadas in warm water for 3-5 minutes, then gently squeeze out excess water.
  5. Prepare spiced yogurt and pour it over the soft vadas. 
  6. Garnish with roasted cumin powder, red chili powder, chopped coriander leaves, cilantro chutney and tamarind chutney before serving.

Finally, I am sharing it today. Hope it takes you back to your special moments like it did for me. 

Dahi Vada Recipe

Dahi vada is a popular Indian snack made from lentil dumplings soaked in creamy yogurt, seasoned with spices, and garnished with tangy chutneys and aromatic herbs. It offers a delightful blend of textures and flavors, making it a favorite among food enthusiasts.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Holi, Indian Snack
Prep Time 7 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Soaking time 6 hours
Servings 10
Author Prerna Singh


For The Vadas

  • 1.5 cup Skinless Urad Dal washed
  • 2 TBSP ginger freshly grated
  • 1/4 tsp asafetida
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • cooking oil (canola oil OR vegetable oil) for deep frying

For Dahi (Spiced Yogurt)

  • 3 cup plain yogurt preferably NOT reduced fat
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder adjust to taste
  • 1.5 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp chat masala powder
  • Salt to taste


  • cilantro chutney adjust to taste
  • tamarind chutney adjust o taste
  • water as needed
  • 1 TBSP chopped cilantro


How to Make Vadas

  1. Wash thoroughly under fresh water and then soak urad dal in twice the quantity of water. 3cups of water for 1.5 cups of urad dal. Let it soak for 6 hrs.

  2. Drain the soaking water completely.

  3. Transfer soaked urad dal into a grinder, blender or a food processor. Except for baking soda, add rest of the vada ingredients into the food processor. Add up to 3/4 cups of water (slowly while blending, and as needed). Grind it into a thick smooth paste.

    In this case add as little water into the paste as possible. Just enough to run the blades to the food processor smoothly.

  4. Scoop out lentil paste and transfer into a medium sized bowl. Add baking soda. Using either your hand or a whisk, whisk the paste vigorously, rotating your hand in one circular motion. Whisk for at least 5 minutes. Set aside.

    This step is important in helping you make really light vadas. So it might feel a lot of work, so take breaks but don't skip it.

  5. Heat oil in a wok or deep fryer, for frying.

    Fill two bowls of water (halfway), one in a large serving bowl for dropping the vadas in, after frying and another in a smaller bowl for you to wet your hands in the next step..

  6. Wet your palms or keep a piece of plastic wrap on one palm. Drop a dollop of urad dal batter (about the size of a lemon) on the palm. Shape into a circle.

    Keep a small bowl with water handy.

  7. Carefully slide the batter into the hot oil. Fry util they are deep golden brown in color, turning them a couple times.

    Be very careful at this step. Wet palms make it very easy to slide the batter off the palm and into the oil. So dip your hand in water after every couple vadas to make sure they are wet enough.

  8. Once done, fish vadas out of the oil and drop into the large bowl of water. Let the fried vadas soak in water for 3-5 minutes. Then lifting them one at a time, place them between your palms, very gently squeeze excess water out into the bowl. Transfer squeezed vada on to a serving platter.

  9. Repeat this process for the rest of the batter and the same for the vadas after they are all fried.

Spiced Yogurt (Dahi)

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients well, with a whisk. Add up to 1 cup of water depending on how thin you want the yogurt to be.

    Typically yogurt should have the consistency of a pancake batter. But some people like them thicker OR thinner, so you decide what works best for you.

  2. Pour over vadas that were set aside.

  3. Garnish and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Dahi Vada


  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.

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