Dahi Bhallay (Lentil Dumplings)

These fluffy little dumplings have my heart. I have always loved dahi bhallay. It was a weekly ritual to have chai at my Khala’s (Mom’s sister) house and on our way, we always stopped halfway and picked up 2 plates of Bhallay from “Jamal’s” right before merging onto the Nehar and driving all the way to her house. We never really had home made bhallay, but forward a decade to a suburbs of Chicago, with no “Jamal’s” in sight, and you have yourself a problem. Last year, during Ramadan, I finally decided to give these darn bhallay a try, and I haven’t gone back since. I came up with such an easy and simple recipe, but they taste great, so who am I to complain? I added a little besan (chickpea flour) and it gives a great depth of flavor, and that sweet yogurt can do no harm. I also love dousing these gorgeous dumplings with my homemade Imlee, and it is such a divine combination!

One thing you do have to do, at all costs, is soak your lentils over night. That’s one step I have never skipped, and make your life a whole lot easier when it’s time to fry these babies up. Also, I love serving mine with some shredded cabbage and thinly sliced onion, because that’s what Jamal did, and who am I to argue!

here’s what you need for about 12 Bhallay:

1 cup Mash Daal (Urad), soaked overnight

3-4 green chillies

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour)

For serving:

2 cups yogurt

1 Tblspn icing sugar

Chaat Masala

shredded cabbage for garnish

thinly sliced onions for garnish

papad for garnish

It’s so simple. You just drain your soaked daal, then add to a food processor. Then add the green chillies, black pepper, salt and cumin. Blend into a paste. You most probably will not need to add any water, but if you feel that the mixture is too grainy, add a teaspoon at a time till you get a paste. Then add the baking soda and besan, mix well, and let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes. Heat some oil in a pan and tablespoons of the dough, making sure you spread them out because they expand while frying.

Fry for about 2 minutes on both sides, till they turn a deep golden hue, then take out and drain. I don’t feel the need to double fry bhallay, as most people do. Maybe it’s the addition of besan that saves me from it! To use, soak the dumplings in warm water till they soften, about 15 minutes, Then carefully squeeze out any extra water and they are ready to layer with your yogurt.

To serve, thin the yogurt out with some water and whisk till smooth. Then add the icing sugar. Spread some yogurt into your dish, then place the bhallas onto your dish. Spoon over as much of the yogurt as you want, then top off with imlee, the shredded cabbage, onions, and chaat masala. Always extra papad for good measure! Enjoy these cold or at room temperature.

To freeze, cool the bhallas completely after frying, then put into ziplock bags and freeze. To use, pour hot water and let them forefront and soften before draining and using.

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