These crispy bhajia‘s are like the Indian version of falafel, only more tasty in my opinion. In Dar-es-Salaam and Zanzibar, these are part of the famous street food often referred to as ‘Zanzibar-Mix’ which is a medley of potato chips (crisps), coconut chutney, and a sort of potato curry. I eat my bhajia‘s exactly like a falafel, stuffing 1-2 in a pita bread with some humus and salad. Yeah, I’m a confused one.
I’m tasting my mommy’s love in these today!
Recipe: Dar na Bhajia
Also known as: Lentil Fritters, Mung Daal Vada/Pakora, Daal Bhajias
Servings: Makes approx. 40 fritters
- 2 cups split mung daal (also known as split moong beans, split green gram, split mag) soaked overnight (6-8 hrs)
- 1 Tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 potato, grated
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 Tbsp fenugreek leaves, chopped (optional)
- 3 green chillies, chopped (or to taste)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp red chili powder
- 1/4 tsp baking powder or ENO
- 1 Tbsp hot oil
- Hot water as needed
- Oil for deep-frying
- Food Processor/blender
- I purchase the lentil with the hull, so I have to de-hull it at home. After soaking the lentils overnight, fill the bowl containing the lentil to the brim and rub the lentils with your fingers. The green hull will float to the top and you can drain it off. Do this a couple of times till most of the green hull is off. It is ok if some is left. Alternatively, you can purchase cleaned split mung daal (the hull is already removed).
- Drain all the water from the cleaned lentils.
- To cook the potato, either boil it for just 5 minutes or place in the microwave, with some water, and microwave for 4-5 minutes till almost done. Drain and keep aside.
- In the food processor, add the garlic paste, ginger paste, onion, potato, green chillies, salt, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder.
- Pulse till all the ingredients are combined.
- Add the lentils, a little at a time. You may add some water if you need to, the less water you add the better.
- Grind till all the lentils are broken particles, don’t make it too fine, it should be thick.
- Add the chopped cilantro and fenugreek leaves.
- Heat about 1 – 1 1/2 inches oil in a wok or karai on medium heat to deep fry the fritters.
- When the oil is hot, take a Tbsp of it and mix into the lentil mixture.
- Right before frying, add the baking soda or ENO. Mix well.
- Test the oil by placing a little bit of the mixture into the oil. If it sizzles and comes to the top, its ready. Medium-high heat is the temperature.
- Take about a heaping tsp of mixture into your hand, shape into a ball and drop into the oil. Alternatively, you can make them slightly flatter to resemble disks. Use some water on your hands to keep the mixture from sticking to them.
- Place a couple at a time into the oil and turn around gently with a fork.
- They are done when dark brown (about 4 minutes frying time). Remove on paper towels to drain excess oil.
- Test for done-ness before removing entire batch from oil. It will be slightly moist inside, which is ok.
- If the fritter breaks, it means that there is too much water in the mixture. If this happens, pour the mixture in a fine-holed colander or sieve and let the water drain out on its own (this will take some time, so remove the oil from the heat!).