If you truly try and understand your own palate it might just surprise you at times. I am normally someone who likes her food which is bursting with subtle flavours and so I was surprised when I discovered how much I love robust spicy Chaats. Growing up with parents who were very cautious about what I put in my mouth street food was off limits while I was growing up but then came the late teenage years and with pocket money and a city with people from different parts of our lovely country I developed this love affair with Chaats. At first it was the Dahi Bhallas but then I slowly discovered samosa chaat, kachori chaat and all sorts of delicious spicy robust snacks.
I must admit that the best chaats I have had was in Delhi. Normally ,Bengalis from Calcutta find Delhi's palate as a whole to be way too sharp and spicy but it seemed to be I was supposed to be born in Delhi. For the time I was there I would gorge on all sorts of chaats and the extra spiciness blew my mind away. Back at home on the streets on calcutta we do get awesome chaats but they are not as spicy as those lovely ones from delhi. So I automatically picked up this habit of making my chaats extra spicy and extra delicious. There are dasy when I get chaat cravings and while there can be a host of chaats lets start with a cooling summer chaat , soaked in whisked curd it is a delight for the punishing summer months in India or rather round the year. Normally a variant of this dish is found everywhere in India. In the west they usually sweeten the curd a bit, the Southern ones are more sour but my favourite is the ones from the North with a host of flavours which just make sit top notch. This delicious dish can be made a number of ways. Some people make it with urad pulse alone, some make it with a mixture of split moong pulse and urad pulse and then I have recently had this Dahi vada made by a celebrity chef who used whole moong pulse and it had a beautiful texture. I adapted Marut Seeka's recipe :-
Makes 6 to 7 servings
For the base of the bhallas you need :-
2 cups of moong pulse
1/2 cup of urad pulse
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp rock salt
Vegetable oil for frying
For soaking :-
1 kilogram of curd whisked well with 2 tbsp Chaat Masala
For serving :-
3/4th cup of Khatti Meethi Chutney
3/4th cup of Hara Bhara Chutney
Chaat Masala as per taste , I usually need a good sprinkle for each serving
Chili powder as per taste I needed a good sprinkle for my own serving since the rest of the family didn't want it that hot
1 cup of bhujia
Soak the pulse for 5 hours to 6 hours and then grind with cumin powder, coriander powder , rock salt and 2 tbsp water, the lesser water you use the better . The batter should be as fluffy as possible.
Now heat the oil and keep a big bowl of water beside the gas stove and make little balls with your wet hand and keep frying them and when they are golden brown transfer them in the bowl of water. Soak the fritters for 10 minutes to 15 minutes int he water and then gently squeeze the water out and soak it in curd which is well whipped and chill it for 1 hour or more. Please check the tips
When serving place dahi vada on a plate and use Khattti meethi chtuney, Hara Bhara Chutney , chaat masala , chili powder and bhujia on top. Adjust the amount of chutney and chaat masala as per taste.
Important tips :-
- When frying the fritters keep the heat within medium to low because if it is too hot then the fritters will burn from outside and remain uncooked inside , so once you have heated the oil use low heat throughout the course of frying . It generally takes about 3 to 4 minutes on each side for the golden colour to be achieved.
- You must let the fried fritters soak in water for 10 minutes to 15 minutes else they won't absorb any curd and will remain hard. When pressing the fritters to get the water out don't press too hard. They remain ultra soft when they are not pressed too hard to remove water post soaking
- Let the fritters soak up the curd for a good 1 hour , in fact I usually l soak them around noon and serve them at around 7 p.m.
- When soaking the water soaked fritters where the water has been squeezed out don't crowd the fritters in one bowl for soaking in whipped curd. use two big bowls if necessary.
- You must whisk your curd well. Since we are soaking the fritters in curd and wanting the curds to absorb the curd to make them soft the curd need needs to be whisked well. If its too thick add a tiny bit of water to it.