Lentil Fritters with Raisins in a Yogurt Sauce

Dahi Vada

Preparation info

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These creamy, sweet, hot, fluffy lentil fritters will have your guests speculating about the ingredients. I can safely bet that raisins and cashews will never appear on their radar screen! The only slightly time-consuming task in this recipe is frying the vadas. The sauce takes all of thirty seconds to put together. What is also great about these fritters is that you can make them up to two days ahead.


For the fritters

  • 1 cup skinned split black lentils (cream-colored in this form, urad dal), picked over for stones
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup raw cashew nuts
  • 10 to 12 fresh green Thai, cayenne, or serrano chiles, to taste, stems removed
  • teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground asafetida
  • Canola oil for deep-frying

For the sauce

  • 1 cup Yogurt Sauce with Black Salt
  • cayenne (ground red pepper) for sprinkling
  • Chaat masala for sprinkling (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems for garnishing


  1. Place the lentils in a medium-size bowl. Fill the bowl halfway with water and rinse the lentils by rubbing them between your fingertips. The water will become cloudy. Drain this water. Repeat three or four times, until the water remains relatively clear; drain. Now fill the bowl halfway with warm water and allow the lentils to soften by letting them sit at room temperature, covered, for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
  2. Drain the lentils. Pour ¾ cup water into a blender, and add the lentils, raisins, nuts, and chiles. Puree, scraping the inside of the jar occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and pastelike. Transfer the thick batter to the same bowl. Add ¼ cup water to the blender jar and run the blender to wash out any remnants of batter; add this to the batter in the bowl, and stir in the salt and asafetida. (If you use the entire 1 cup water to grind the soaked lentils, the resulting batter might be gritty and slightly watery.) Using a spatula, vigorously beat the batter in a circular motion for 2 to 3 minutes (this incorporates air, ensuring a fluffy but crispy fritter).
  3. Pour oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches into a wok, Dutch oven, or medium-size saucepan. Heat the oil over medium heat until a candy or deep-fry thermometer inserted into the oil (without touching the pan’s bottom) registers 350°F. (An alternative way to see if the oil is at the right temperature for deep-frying is to gently flick a drop of water over it. If the pearl-like drop skitters across the surface, the oil is ready.)
  4. Fill a medium-size bowl with hot water and place it near the stove. Once the oil is ready, gently slide in teaspoonfuls of the batter without crowding (about 10 at a time). (I usually fill one spoon with the batter and use another spoon to slide the batter into the oil.) Fry, turning them occasionally, until the fritters are golden brown and crisp all over, about 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drop them into the hot water. Repeat until all the fritters are cooked and transferred to the hot water. You may need to adjust the heat to maintain the oil’s temperature at 350°F. (Do not leave any fritters in the water for longer than 5 minutes.)
  5. Place the yogurt sauce in a medium-size bowl.
  6. Working with one vada at a time, press them between the palms of your hands to squeeze out every bit of water. Drop them into the yogurt sauce, dunking and coating them evenly, and then place them on a serving platter. If there’s any sauce remaining in the bowl, pour it over the vadas.
  7. Sprinkle some cayenne and chaat masala over the blanketed vadas, top them off with the cilantro, and serve. They will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.