If you ever find yourself a little peckish and with a moment to spare then I suggest you give these fritters a go. They are made of chana dal ( split black chickpeas ) and has really nice flavour from chilli, garlic, cumin and hing ( asafoetida ). They are great to serve as a snack in between meals or as a part of a bigger meal. I like to eat mine with a sauce made of roasted almonds and roasted garlic but they are also great with different chutneys. Believe me when I say that this dish is truly worth its effort. When you make these you can use any type of dal. The dal most commonly used for fritters or vadas as they are called in India ( where my inspiration comes from ) are urud dal or chana dal.
To make the perfect Chana Dal Fritters it is important that you soak the dal over night. You need to soak it for this long so the fritters get the right texture when deep fried. You want them to be porous and soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. If the batter is to thick the fritters will become dense and dry. When making them for the first time it might be a challenge to create the doughnut shape but that doesn’t matter. They will taste just as great no matter the shape and you can add the batter to the oil with a spoon if you want to. In this recipe I choose to spice them up with some chili, garlic, cumin and hing but you can use any seasoning you would like. They also taste really great with some fresh herbs. And while enjoying the cooking why not do it together with a good song.
For the sauce you need a lot of garlic and almonds.
This is what chana dal looks like when you bring it home from the shop.
The fritters being deep fried.
I always let them drain on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
Served with a side salad made of carrots, white and red cabbage.
Recipe for Chana Dal Fritters with Almond Garlic Sauce
Gives about 10 – 15 fritters
For the fritters:
2,5 dl ( 1 cup ) chana dal, soaked over night or for 8 hours.
2 red or green chilis
5 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp hing ( asafoetida ), you can leave this out if you can’t find it
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil for frying the garlic and chilli
Oil for deep frying
1-2 tbsp of water ( for the mixing )
For the sauce:
40 g almond
1 full head of garlic
2 tbsp of oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp water ( depending on the texture you want )
Soak the dal over night or for eight hours. Chop the garlic and chili and fry it in two tbsp of oil. Add the cumin and the hing, stir a little and set aside the mixture to cool off. Drain the dal well an place all of it in a food processor together with the garlic and chili mixture. Add one tbsp of water and start to mix for a few minutes. Scrape the sides of the jar with a spatula and continue like this until the batter has become smooth and soft. If you need to add one more tbsp of water to help the process then do so. It might take a while with the mixing and scraping depending on your food processor but let it take time, a good texture of the batter will give you a better result. Now, heat the oil for frying and start shaping the fritters with your hands. Use wet hands while doing this, it will make the shaping a whole lot easier. If the batter is to wet to shape you can add a little besan flour ( chickpea flour ). The risk when doing this is the fritters will turn out dense. Therefore you need to be careful not to add to much flour. I suggest that instead of shaping them into doughnuts you can add the batter to the oil with a spoon or simply shape them into small balls with your hands. Think of the size of a falafel and they will be fine. Once the oil is ready ( you can check this by placing a little batter in the oil and if it lifts to the surface the oil is hot enough ) deep fry the fritters on both sides until they look golden and crisp. Place them on some kitchen paper to drain and serve while they are warm. When they cool off they loose their crispness.
Heat the oven to 175° C ( 347° F ). Place the almonds in a small bowl and add boiling water. Leave them in for a few minutes and then change the warm water into freezing water. Now you carefully remove the thin peel from the almonds. You could keep the peel on but the sauce gets a nicer colour when you remove them. Separate the cloves in the garlic head and place them and the almonds on oven paper on a baking tray. Keep the garlic cloves in their peel. Roast for 20 – 25 minutes. After 20 minutes have a look. Make sure that both the garlic and the almonds have turned golden in the colour and that the garlic has turned soft inside. If not leave them for a few more minutes. When they are done let them cool off and then place the almonds in a mixer. When the almonds are mixed into a powder you add the rest of the ingredients. Continue mixing and add a little water at a time until you get a creamy smooth sauce. For this you need a good mixer. I find that my food processor is not enough for this. The texture never becomes as smooth as I want when using it. Instead I use a hand mixer and chop the almonds by hand first. But if you do have a mixer or blender that you know are good for this purpose then go ahead and use it.
Note: If you don’t know where to find chana dal or hing ( asafoitida ) I suggest that you look in a shop where they are specialized in Asian or Middle Eastern food. If you like to buy things online, this and this shop sells Indian Groceries.