Friday, October 17, 2008

Adventures in Indian Cooking

ural dal with yogurt sauce

I decided to make some lentils fritters after seeing Bee's enticing post last week. I commented on her blog and she was kind enough to email me and to tell me about an alternate way to eat Urad Dal Croquettes.

ural dal in pan

I purchased a special pan for the sole purpose of making the delectable fritters I have seen in various posts on Jugalbundi. I am a minimalist in the kitchen, moving will do that to you, but I am hoping to put that pan to good use.

I took her concept and messed with it a bit. I just can't help myself. The lentil batter screamed out for mango chutney and more spices.

Another confession-- I bought the pan two months ago and today was the first day I actually used it. I had visions of the most perfect little croquettes emerging from the egg shaped cavities of my new iron pan. Reality hits you hard when you are delusional. Bee must know something I don't because my little morsels of joy were not as pretty as hers but they were delicious.

urad dal croquettes in bowl

The double batch I made came in handy when halfway through, I experienced a case of fryer's guilt and wondered what would happen if I baked the rest instead. I set the oven on 500F to simulate the high heat you get from frying and opted for my muffin pan to shape the lentil batter into patties. It only took ten minutes to bake them and I have to say that the results were excellent.

urad dal patties open view

The fried croquettes were crisp on the outside and fluffy inside. The baked ones were more pancake like but still moist and flavorful. Either cooking method yields superb results, in my opinion, and goes so well with the yogurt sauce.

urad dal tower

Urad Dal Croquettes with Yogurt Sauce (serves 4)
Urad dal is white but it's really black lentils without their outer skins (available in any Indian food store).

1 cup of urad dal, soaked for 4 hours
2 tablespoons mango chutney
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp cumin seeds
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Oil for frying
Yogurt Sauce (see below)

Drain the dal but reserve about 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid. Put all the ingredients and the soaking liquid, except for the cumin seeds and cilantro, in a blender. Process until smooth then add the cumin seeds and cilantro and mix.

Fry in a pan by putting a well-rounded tablespoon of the batter for each croquette in the hot oil. Flip to brown on all sides.

Or to bake them instead:

urad dal patties baked

Preheat the oven to 500F.
Oil a muffin pan. Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full. Bake for about 10 minutes or until set and slightly puffy. The edges will look golden brown. Do several batches if necessary.

urad dal yogurt sauce

Yogurt Sauce

1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and serve with croquettes.

Artsy-Foodie's Tip:
The fried croquettes are wonderful fresh but don't make good leftovers. As time goes by, the oiliness comes out. If you want to make this recipe ahead of time consider baking the batter into patties instead of frying them. They'll keep longer that way.

Here are other Indian recipes for your enjoyment:
Pea Vine, Zucchini Patties with Yogurt Sauce
Halibut Curry


nicisme said...

Oh my, I LOVE these! I've been meaning to make something similar for a while and now after seeing yours I must!

VeggieGirl said...

Such cute little croquettes!! :0)

Stacey Snacks said...

I have a confession to make:
A New Yorker who has NEVER tried Indian cuisine! Can you believe it?
I know, that's odd.
Your fritters look excellent, and I will make that yogurt sauce for salmon!

Leonor de Sousa Bastos said...

ohhh!...I love indian food!:)
your "Urad Dal Croquettes" are soooo delicious with the Yogurt Sauce!...
I almost can feel the exquisite flavours in my mouth!:)

I love your tablecloth!

RecipeGirl said...

You're so brave. I haven't ventured AT ALL into Indian food. I don't think I've had all that much experience with it in restaurants, etc. so there's the reason for my hesitation. Will have to add it to the list of things to experiment with!

Your creation looks delicious!

Mary Ann said...

It's just not fair! I want to eat everything I see you post! I want to live in your house, so I can enjoy all these delicious things. I would be sooooo happy. Seriously, I would be in heaven. I wouldn't have to deal with the demands of picky people who love McDonalds! (I love them though and would probably miss them). Can we move next door? I am making your tofu in peanut sauce next week. Can't wait!

Passionate About Baking said...

Oh I love the sound of these. And the baked ones are making me do a jig. Yes, like all deep-fried Indian stuff, they are beast eaten hot. There's another thing you can do with these Alexa. Line them in a casserole, pour seasoned yogurt over them, repeat another layer of vadas if you like, & cover that with yogurt too. Chill & serve. That's knows as 'dahi vadas/badas' & taste quite nice too.

Fearless Kitchen said...

These look great! I'm especially grateful for the baked variety - it seems so hard to justify frying anything lately.

Alexa said...

I am glad you found them inspiring.

They are so yummy too.

Stacey Snacks,
Indian food is so lovely, full of fresh flavors and spices. I highly recommend it. :-)

My husband brought it back from a trip he took there when he was in University. I was glad to put it to good use because I love it too.

Exposure helps, but a sense of adventure is all you need and you definitely have that! Thanks for your nice comment.

Mary Ann,
I would love to be your neighbor! There are several homes on our street up for grabs right now, not quite next door but close (lol). Enjoy the peanut tofu!

Thanks so much for the serving suggestion. I will try it next time I make them. I love these type of dishes.

Kevin said...

Those croquettes look nice and moist and good. I have been wanting to explore Indian cuisine more and this looks like a nice place to start.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you can also shape the croquettes and freeze them, then fry or bake them as needed? That way you won't end up with a lot of leftovers but still enjoy those lovely looking croquettes.

Alexa said...

I think you would enjoy them. :-)

I guess you could try to pour the batter in muffin cups (1/4 full), then freeze them, pop them out when they are solid and use at a later date. I am not sure how they would come out since I have never done that. The recipe serves 4, so you could bake them and then freeze some. Next time, I make a batch I'll try to do that and see how they turn out. We ate our leftovers the next day for lunch and thought the baked ones were just as tasty a day later. I'm sorry if this doesn't clearly answer your question...

Holler said...

Mmmmmmm gorgeous! I don't mind which style you pass me, as long as I get one. What a great recipe idea :)

Katie said...

I love Indian food, but I rarely have it. Now I know what recipe to use when I am craving some.

Robin Sue said...

Alexa- I love fritters and I love the spices you put in these. The yogurt sauce is wonderful. It seems like a nice time of year to make fritters too!

Apples and Butter said...

Delicious! I am always wanting to experiment with Indian food and never seem to get around to it. The fritter pan looks somewhat similar to the filled pancake pan I've been lusting after at Williams Sonoma. I wonder if I could justify the purchase with a dual-use in mind!

CECIL said...

This is just awesome!! I am going to bookmark this - it's Diwali time and so far, we have four 'batches' parties. :D

Usha said...

Sounds delicious...loved the twist you gave to the recipe by baking it...will give this a try soon :)

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

"Frying" in a muffin pan? I think you just made my life so much easier. Wonderful-looking fritters! Thanks.

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