Dahi vada recipe – A complete step by step photo and video guide to make soft, melt-in-the-mouth Dahi vada at home. Also known as dahi balla, these are deep fried lentil fritters dunked in creamy yogurt, topped with different kinds of sweet spicy chutneys and then garnished with spice powders. It is one of the most popular Indian street foods eaten across India.
Dahi vada is also popularly known as Dahi bhalla in North India. Towards the South, a variant of this is known as thayir vadai in Tamil, perugu vadalu in Telugu and mosaru vade in Kannada.
What is dahi vada?
Lastly garnished with ground spices like cumin powder, red chilli powder and chaat masala.
It is served as a snack or as side in a meal. Most homes make this during special occasions like celebrations, parties & festivals like Diwali, holi and Navratri.
What is the difference?
Dahi vada is generally made only with urad dal. While Dahi bhalla has some moong lentils included to make the vada batter.
The South Indian thayir vada, perugu vadalu or mosaru vada is tempered with curry leaves, green chilies, mustard and hing. What makes dahi vada or dahi bhalla distinct and unique is the sweet, tangy and hot chutneys toppings.
Well-made dahi vada have a melt in the mouth texture. The sweet sour tamarind chutney and flavorful spicy green chutneys compliment the taste. Various spice powders and chaat masala add flavor & zing to the dahi vada chaat making it look & taste super delicious.
How is dahi vada made?
Making dahi vada is quite easy, except there is a bit of preparation work. Here are the brief steps of making the entire dish:
- Soaking the lentils and making the batter
- Making sweet tamarind chutney
- Making green chutney
- Frying the vada
- Assembling dahi vada
You can very well complete the first 3 steps the previous day so most of the preparation is done ahead. The last 2 steps can be followed on the day you plan to serve.
Here are my tips to make soft, mouth melting dahi vadas.
Tips to prepare the batter
Soaking dal: Soak the dal for atleast 4 to 6 hours otherwise the batter will not turn fluffy while blending.
Blending dal: After soaking, blend the urad dal well until thick, light & fluffy. If using a blender it is essential to use chilled water to blend the lentils as this prevents the blender from heating up.
Secondly add water only as needed so the batter does not become runny. If you pour lot of water as one time, the batter turns runny. So add only a few tbsps each time until you get the right consistency.
Consistency of batter: The batter must be of dropping consistency otherwise the vadas will be out of shape, flat and soak up lots of oil. This dropping consistency can be achieved only by adding water with caution.
Aerate the batter: This is the key step to make fluffy dahi vada. After blending the batter, aerate it well by beating it in a circular motion. This incorporates air in the batter and makes fluffy dahi vadas.
You can do it with your hand if making in small quantity. If you double or triple the recipe then use a hand beater or a stand mixer.
Tips to fry vada
Equal portions of batter has to be slided to the hot oil to make vada. If you make them of different sizes, then the frying time will vary.
Frying has to be done on a medium heat. Frying on low flame will make them hard and frying on high flame will not cook them from inside but will brown them.
So consistent medium heat is required to fry them well and evenly.
Tips to soften the vadas
Soaking the hot fried vadas immediately in water or buttermilk helps they absorb water from inside keeping them soft and moist. Rest them in water until they soak up well and become bigger in size.
Then gently squeeze the excess water and dunk them in the whisked yogurt.
Tips to make chuntey
I usually stock the tamarind chutney as it keeps good for a few months in the fridge. However I prefer to make the green chutney fresh on the same day or on the previous day. Here are the tips:
- Make sure you don’t use onions in the green chutney if you are making it ahead as onions alter the flavour and taste of the chutney.
- If you are making these ahead to refrigerate, then keep the consistency of the chutney thicker. I always feel the taste and flavour of the chutney retains for longer by keeping the consistency thicker.
- Dilute the chutney just before serving or assembling the dahi vada.
- If your yogurt is runny, then use the thicker chutney without diluting.
Assembling dahi vada
Preparing yogurt: Whisk the chilled yogurt well with some salt and sugar. Homemade curd is the best choice for dahi vada. Please avoid using store bought dahi that is sour in taste. If you do not know how to make curd at home, then you can check this post – curd recipe.
I always make homemade curd to make dahi vada and I can assure you it makes a lot of difference.
- After whisking the yogurt transfer it to the serving bowl.
- Drenching softened vadas in yogurt: Once the vadas soften, Squeeze off the excess water and add them to the whisked yogurt.
- Pouring chutney: Bring the chutney to a slightly pouring consistency by adding water as needed. Pour them over the dahi vadas.
- Sprinkling spice powders: Sprinkle cumin powder, chaat masala and chilli powder. Keep the roasted cumin powder ready a day ahead. If you do not know how to make it, dry roast a few tbsps of cumin/jeera on a very low heat until fragrant. Cool and powder it.
- Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves and pomegranate seeds for garnish.
How to store:
If you plan to make this ahead, then go ahead and do it till soaking the vadas in dahi. Once prepared cover the serving tray with a cling wrap and refrigerate. Keep it at room temperature a few hours before serving. Pour the chutneys and sprinkle spice powders only before serving.
I had a lot of queries from readers about freezing the vadas or about refrigerating the dahi vada for a few days.
Earlier I had never tried it so couldn’t share. Here are my updates on freezing vadas and refrigerating dahi vada.
How to freeze vadas?
Cool the vadas completely after frying. Line your freezer bag with a kitchen/ paper towel. Arrange all the vadas and seal it. Open the bad a little and remove all the air by squeezing the bag gently. Seal it and freeze them for upto 6 weeks. Alternately you can also store them in freezer safe glass containers.
When you want to make dahi vada with your frozen vadas, bring water to a boil and add these vadas. They will puff up well in about 25 to 35 mins. When they soften, remove them and squeeze off the excess water.
Add them to the whisked yogurt and top with chutneys.
Dahi vada recipe
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- ½ cup urad dal or skinned black gram (whole or split)
- ½ inch ginger or adrak
- 1 green chili or hari mirch
- ½ to ¾ tsp cumin or jeera
- Salt as needed
- Pinch hing or asafoetida
- 2 to 4 tbsp chilled water or as needed (do not use a lot)
- 4 to 6 cashews chopped
- Oil as needed for deep frying
- 2 cups curd or dahi / plain yogurt (thick & fresh, unflavored)
For green chutney
- 1 cup coriander leaves or daniya patta
- ¼ cup mint or pudina
- 1 green chili (use as needed)
- ¼ inch ginger or adrak
- 1 clove garlic (optional)
- ½ tsp cumin or jeera
- Lemon juice or amchur (dry mango powder) as needed
- 1 tbsp onions chopped (skip if making ahead, replace with fried gram/ bhuna chana)
- Salt as needed
- water very little if needed
For tamarind chutney
- ¼ cup tamarind or imli (seedless)
- ½ cup jaggery or ¼ cup jaggery & ¼ cup dates (seedless) (use as needed)
- Water as needed
- Salt to taste
- ¼ to ½ tsp dry ginger powder or saunth or sonti powder
- ½ tsp roasted cumin powder or jeera powder
- ¼ to ½ tsp red chili powder
- ½ tsp coriander powder or daniya powder or garam masala
For garnishing dahi vada
- ½ to ¾ tsp roasted cumin powder or jeera powder
- ¼ tsp red chili powder
- ½ to ¾ tsp chaat masala
- Handful of coriander leaves chopped finely
How to make the recipe
- Wash urad dal a few times and soak for at least 4 to 6 hours.
Making tamarind chutney
- Pour 1 cup water to a pot and heat it. Next put in tamarind, jaggery and dates if using. Simmer all these for 4 to 5 mins until the tamarind turns soft and completely mushy.
- Add red chili powder, salt, cumin powder and coriander powder or garam masala. Mix well. Taste this and add more jaggery if desired. Cool & blend it. Pass through a sieve to a wide bowl.
- Lastly add dry ginger powder and mix well. Transfer this to a dry glass or ceramic jar. Store this in fridge and use up within 4 to 6 days.
Making green chutney
- Add all the ingredients mentioned for green chutney to a blender jar and make a fine paste using very little water or as needed. Skip onion if you are not using it up right away.
- You can also use little fried gram/ bhuna chana dal to keep the chutney thick. Chutney without onion keeps good for about 4 to 6 days in fridge.
- Drain dal and add it to a blender jar with cumin, salt, green chili, ginger and hing.
- Blend coarsely first, then pour 1 tbsp chilled water and grind it again. Scraping the sides, repeat blending adding 1 tbsp water each time only as needed until the batter turns fluffy and light.
- Remove the batter to a bowl and beat it well for 1/2 to 1 min to aerate the batter. Add cashews if using.
- Pour oil to a kadai and heat it enough to fry the vadas. Take small portions of the batter and drop into the oil and fry until golden and crisp. Remove to a plate.
- Drop fried vadas to a bowl of water while they are still hot. Rest them for 20 mins. Timing may vary depending on the size of the vadas.
How to make dahi vada
- Gently press down the vadas in between spatulas or your palms one after the other to remove excess water. Place them in a serving tray.
- Beat yogurt until smooth and creamy. You can also add a tbsp of powdered sugar and little salt to the dahi.
- Pour dahi over vadas generously. Allow to rest for at least 15 mins.
- Top dahi vada with a generous amounts of green chutney and sweet tamarind chutney.
- Sprinkle cumin powder, chaat masala, black salt and red chili powder. Garnish with coriander leaves. Adjust more or less dahi, chutneys, chaat masala, cumin powder and red chili powder to suit your taste.
- Serve dahi vada immediately after you sprinkle the spice powders.
Video of dahi vada recipe
NUTRITION (estimation only)
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
If you are new to cooking, follow my detailed step by step photo instructions for best results.
Preparation for dahi vada recipe
1. To make dahi vada, always use thick and fresh dahi that is made from full fat milk. If you are new to making it at home, you can follow this post on how to make dahi or curd at home. You will need to make it the previous night.
2. Wash and soak urad dal for at least 6 hours. Proper soaking allows the batter to fluff up well while grinding. While the dal is soaking you can make green chutney and tamarind chutney.
Making green chutney for dahi vada
3. While making chutneys make sure they are thick otherwise dahi turns very runny once the chutneys are added. You can dilute if needed while you serve. To make green chutney add all the ingredients mentioned in the recipe card to a blender jar and make a fine paste using very little water or as needed.
If you are making it ahead and not going to use it up within few hours then skip onion in the green chutney. Instead use fried gram/ bhuna chana dal which helps to keep the chutney thick without turning runny after refrigerating. Chutney without onion keeps good for about 4 to 6 days in fridge.
Making sweet tamarind chutney
Heat 1 cup of water in a pot. Add tamarind, jaggery and dates if using. Simmer all these for 4 to 5 mins until the tamarind turns soft and completely mushy. Add red chili powder, salt, cumin powder and coriander powder or garam masala. Mix well. Taste this and add more jaggery if needed to suit your taste.
Transfer this to a wide plate cool it. Blend it and pass through a sieve to a wide bowl. Add dry ginger powder and mix well. Transfer this to a glass or ceramic jar. Store this in fridge and use up with in 4 to 6 days.
Making dahi vada batter
4. Drain dal completely and add it to a blender jar along with cumin, salt, ginger, green chili and hing.
5. Blend it coarsely first, then add a tbsp of water at one time and grind it again. Scrape off the sides.
6. Keep blending until you get a smooth, thick and fluffy batter adding 1 tbsp chilled water each time or as needed. Do not add too much water as the batter may turn runny. If the blender jar turns warm wait until it cools down before you begin to blend again. If the batter turns hot, vada will come out hard.
7. Towards the end of blending, you must have smooth, fluffy and light batter. To check this, you can drop a small amount of batter in a bowl filled with water. Light and fluffy batter floats.
8. Transfer the batter to a bowl and beat it well for 30 to 60 seconds to aerate. This makes the vadas fluffy, light and also they get cooked well. Add cashews if using. Place a wide bowl half filled with water away from your stove to soak the fried balls. Due to harsh sunlight in my kitchen, the color of the batter looks different. It turns out white.
9. Heat oil on a medium flame. When the oil is hot enough, drop a very small amount of batter. It comes up if the oil is hot enough. Drop small amounts of batter in the hot oil either using your greased fingers or greased tbsp spoon.
10. Keep stirring and fry until the vadas turn golden. Drain them on a kitchen tissue first.
How to make dahi vada
11. Transfer to the water while they are still hot. Rest them for 20 mins. Timing may vary depending on the size of the vadas.
12. They will absorb water and become bigger in size. Gently press down the vadas in between spatulas or your palms one after the other to remove excess water. Place them in a tray or serving plates. Handle them gently they may break.
13. Beat dahi/ yogurt until smooth. You can also add a tbsp of powdered sugar and little salt to the dahi. I haven’t used any.
14. Pour dahi over vadas generously. Allow them to rest for at least 15 mins and this is optional.
15. Just before serving top the dahi vada with a generous amounts of green chutney and sweet tamarind chutney.
16. Sprinkle cumin powder, chaat masala, black salt and then red chili powder. Finish off with coriander leaves, this is optional. Make sure you use more or less dahi, chutneys, chaat masala, cumin powder and red chili powder to suit your taste buds.
Serve dahi vada immediately after you sprinkle the spice powders.