Monsoon recipes: Dahi Vada, Paneer Cheese Lifafa

Maharaj Ganga Singh gives you two perfect excuses to make your tea-time extra special.

Garnished with fresh coriander leaves and dunked in whipped chilled curd, his recipe for the deep-fried Dahi Vada won’t let you miss Mumbai street food. 

Use leftover chapatis to make Paneer Cheese Lifafa and treat your family to a yummy snack that goes well with chai

Dahi Vada

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white urad dal or split black gram without the skin
  • 1 cup green mung dal or green gram
  • 1 cup chola or cholee dal or split cow peas or black eyed peas
  • ½ tsp or more chopped green chilly
  • 1 tsp or more ginger paste
  • 1 tsp jeera or cumin seeds
  • Pinch of hing or asafoetida
  • Salt and black salt per taste
  • 2½ cups curd or yoghurt, chilled
  • ½ to 1 tsp chaat masala or as required
  • ¼ to ½ tsp red chilly powder
  • 1 tsp roasted jeera or cumin powder 
  • Oil for deep frying
  • ¼ cup anar dana or pomegranate pearls, to garnish
  • 2 tbsp chopped green dhania or coriander or cilantro leaves, to garnish
  • Green chutney, to serve
  • Imli or tamarind chutney, to serve 

Method

  • Wash, drain and soak the lentils in a bowl filled with water for at least 5-6 hours.
    Drain off the excess water and grind the soaked lentils in a mixer.
    Add some of water during the grinding to get a smooth, thick batter.
    Pour the mixture into a bowl, add the chopped green chilly, salt, ginger paste, hing and cumin seeds.
    Stir briskly for a couple for minutes to incorporate air so as to form a light and fluffy batter.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed kadhai or pan for deep frying.
    Once the oil is hot, using a spoon, pour in the batter to form small 1.5 inch roundels or discs (somewhat smaller than a medu vada).
    Fry in batches of 2-3 and keep flipping the vadas so they fry evenly.
    Drain onto a plate lined with tissue or a paper towel.
    Repeat the process to finish the batter. 
    Allow the vadas to cool for 2-3 minutes.
  • Soak the vadas in bowl of chilled filtered water or mineral water for about 12-15 minutes.
    Squeeze the excess water out of each vada and transfer onto a plate or bowl.
  • Whisk the chilled curd until smooth and pour generously over the vadas.
    Top with the green chutney and tamarind chutney as per taste (please see the pic above).
    Sprinkle a pinch of red chilly powder, roasted cumin powder, chaat masala and black salt as per taste.
    Garnish with fresh pomegranate pearls and coriander leaves. Serve.

Paneer Cheese Lifafa

Servings: 1 portion

Ingredients

  • 2 lifafa chapatis or thin, larger, soft rotis that can be folded into a pocket/envelope
  • 50 gm paneer, grated
  • 50 gm cheese, grated
  • 10 gm green chilly, finely chopped
  • 5 gm fresh green dhania or coriander or cilantro 
  • 20 gm onion, chopped fine
  • 15 gm red and yellow bell peppers or capsicums, chopped
  • 10 gm green bell pepper or capsicum, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 gm dhania or coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp maida or refined flour to make a slurry with a little water
  • Oil, for deep frying
  • Mayonnaise, for plating
  • Schezwan sauce, to serve

Method

  • Combine the paneer and cheese in a bowl.
    Add the chopped green chillies, fresh coriander, onion, bell peppers, capsicum and mix well.
    Add the coriander powder, salt for seasoning. Mix well.
  • Take a chapati and place stuffing mixture in the centre.
    Fold the chapati to form an envelope or lifafa and seal the edges with a flour slurry of refined flour and water.
  • Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed kadhai and deep fry the stuffed chapatis till crisp on both sides.
    Drain onto a plate lined with tissue or a paper towel. Cut into half and place on a serving plate.
    Drizzle mayonnaise strings on it and serve with Schezwan sauce.

Ganga Singh is the chef at Rasotsav, a vegetarian restaurant serving Rajasthani and Gujarati food in Mumbai.

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