Recipe courtesy of Palak Patel

Herbed Desai Vada with Cilantro Chutney

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 10 hr 30 min (includes soaking time)
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
These fritters made from a batter of soaked and fermented lentils are regional to Gujarat, the western part of India where my family originated. We always make them for the Diwali celebration. Fritters are an easy and popular snack not only on the streets of India but made regularly at home for guests on rainy days. I still recall the smell of warm fritters frying as a child, served with a tangy, spicy cilantro chutney.


Cilantro Chutney:


Special equipment:
a deep-fry thermometer, a spider
  1. Wash the lentils and rice, then drain. Combine with water in a large bowl, cover, then let soak in an oven that’s off with the light on for 10 to 12 hours. The mixture will begin to ferment in the soaking water.
  2. Drain and wash the lentils and rice, then drain again. Transfer to a blender and blend to a coarse texture. Pour into a large bowl then stir in the yogurt and lemon juice. Add the sorghum flour, whole-wheat flour, fenugreek, cilantro, sugar, turmeric, baking soda, chiles, ginger, 1 teaspoon oil and 1/4 cup water; season with salt and mix until a wet dough forms. Set aside.
  3. Heat 4 inches of oil in a large cast-iron pot fitted with a deep-fry thermometer to 350 degrees F. Use a spoon to create small balls of the batter and deep-fry, turning midway through, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
  4. Serve with the cilantro chutney.

Cilantro Chutney:

  1. Combine the cilantro, chickpeas, cumin, ginger, lemon juice, sugar, chiles, ice and 1/4 cup water in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Season with salt then transfer to a serving bowl.

Cook’s Note

Fermenting can be done ahead of time then refrigerate the batter for up to a few days.