Recipe, Small Plates
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Dahi Vada – Savory Donuts in Yogurt Sauce

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Aaaaand we’re back! Happy Thursday my friends and Umami Kitchen wishes everyone a very Happy Dussera! As usual the best thing about celebrating festivals is the yummy food that is made. And talking about yummy food, today we have for you the delicious Dahi Vada – Savory donuts in Yogurt sauce. It is crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and the yogurt sauce just makes you go ummmmmmm! Whenever inlaws comes over or we go visit them she makes these for me… and this time when she was here visiting us for couple of weeks. I decided to  learn and perfect the dish so I could share it with you all.

So those of you who are wondering what special to make for this festival, you already have a recipe ready for you.  For many of you this may be a completely unheard dish, so here is a little snippet about what it is.

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Dahi vada is a popular dish across India. It is basically white lentil (urad dal) along with salt and green chilies made into deep fried donuts and seasoned with spicy/tangy yogurt sauce. The seasoning of the yogurt sauce varies depending on which part of the country you are from. Typically, if you are from the southern part of India, the yogurt sauce is tempered with turmeric, cumin, mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves and green chilies. However, in the north of India, the sauce is tempered with cumin powder, chilli powder, tamarind juice, chaat masala adding a totally new dimension to the taste. In this recipe, we will show you the south Indian way of making the yogurt sauce for the Dahi vada.


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Dahi vada is typically made at special occasions when family and friends meet. Below you will find the recipe for making the batter for making the vada (donuts).

Another essential part of this dish is the Dahi (yogurt). You can buy this in the store or you can set it at home too. Here is a quick recipe to make your yogurt at home –

  • Use half a gallon of 2% or full fat milk and boil it in a container till the milk starts to rise. Turn off the stove.
  • Let the milk cool down to lukewarm temperature.
  • Add two tablespoons of plain yogurt to the milk and stir it well.
  • Now place the container in a warm spot at home, either inside your oven or inside a cupboard. I usually keep it inside the oven and turn on the light.
  • Typically, it takes about 6-7 hours for the yogurt to set. So it is best done at night, so it can set overnight.
  • Do not stir/mix the milk once you set it to rest. Shaking things up in the middle of the process does not allow the yogurt to set properly.
  • Check for the consistency after 7 hours or in the morning if you have set it for overnight. It should have the same consistency as the yogurt you buy from the store.

Dahi Vada

Ingredients: Makes approx. 25 small donuts

  • 2 cups white lentil
  • 1 cup water for grinding
  • salt
  • 1/2 gallon yogurt + more
  • 10-12 green chilies + more as needed
  • 2 thumb size ginger knobs
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
  • canola oil – for frying


  • 2-3 tbsp. oil
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 2-3 dry red chilies
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 2 tsp urad dal
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp chana dal

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  • Soak lentils overnight in large bowl in 8 cups of water. Next morning, rinse and drain the lentils and set aside.
  • Add lentils to the grinder and start the grinding process. You will need approx. 1 cup of water for the entire process. Keep adding little bit of water as when needed. Do not add too much water this will make the batter runny and not ideal for making donuts.

Note: The whole process if using a wet grinder takes 45 mins. with couple of breaks for the grinder in between so that it does not heat up.

  • In the meanwhile grind green chilies and ginger into coarse paste in a small jar.
  • Heat a small pan and add couple of tbsp. of oil once hot add all the tempering ingredients one after another. Turn of the heat and let it sizzle for some more time until the lentils turn golden brown.
  • Take a big bowl that can hold yogurt and donuts in it. To the bowl add yogurt and mix well to break up the lumps. To the yogurt add green chili and ginger paste, salt as needed, tempering mixture and cilantro. Mix well and set aside. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning as needed. If you need more heat grind some more chilies and add to the yogurt mixture.

Note: Ensure that the seasoning in the yogurt is sufficient for both yogurt and donuts.

  • Once the batter is ready. Heat a wok half filled with oil. Once the oil reaches rolling boil.
  • Take bowl and fill it with water. You will need this to soak your hands will making the donuts and also for dropping finished donuts in it before it goes into the yogurt mixture.
  • Dip your fingers in water and scoop out approx. 3 tbsp. of batter into the wet fingers and try to flatten it 1 inch thick and round. Now drop flattened batter into the oil. Repeat the process until you can fit enough donuts in the wok.

Note: Note: Ensure that seasoning in the yogurt is sufficient for both yogurt and donuts.

  • Flip the donuts half way thru the cooking process when it is golden brown and once both sides are nicely browned and cooked all the way through approx 5-7 mins.
  • Remove the donuts from the oil and drop them into the water bowl for 15 secs before moving them into the yogurt sauce.
  • Repeat the process until you make all the donuts.
  • You can serve them right away or chill in refrigerator for 2 hrs before serving. Either ways they will taste great. They will keep well in a tight lid container in the fridge for a week.


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