Crisp black lentil & onion fritters

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes


Appears in

Lands of the Curry Leaf

Lands of the Curry Leaf

By Peter Kuruvita

Published 2018

  • About

Popular during Ramadan, these fritters are similar to others enjoyed across the subcontinent, but are made using hulled black lentils. These delicious snacks are very easy to make — the only trick is to keep the lentil paste coarse, rather than smooth.

Preparation 15 minutes + 2 hours soaking
Cooking 6–8 minutes per batch


  • 200 g (7 oz/1 cup) dried black lentils (urad dhal)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chickpea flour (besan)
  • 2 Indian green chillies, very finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • 300 ml (10½ fl oz) rice bran oil
  • 100 g (3½ oz) chopped baby spinach, to garnish


Wash the lentils well and soak them in a bowl of water for at least 2 hours.

Drain and rinse the lentils, then place in a blender with 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) water.

Add the garlic, salt, turmeric and cumin seeds and grind until smooth; the consistency should be of a somewhat wet paste, rather than a batter.

Scrape the mixture into a bowl and add the chickpea flour, chilli, onion, thyme and coriander and mix well.

Heat the rice bran oil in a heavy-based frying pan for about 2–3 minutes over medium heat. Test the temperature with a small drop of the mixture; it should sizzle to the top.

For each fritter, carefully add about 2 tablespoons of the lentil mixture to the hot oil, leaving enough space in between so they can cook without overcrowding each other.

Cook for about 3–4 minutes on each side, until nicely golden. Drain on paper towel and keep warm while cooking the remaining fritters.

Arrange on a serving plate, toss with the spinach leaves and serve.