Dahin Bhallay (Lentil balls in yoghurt)

Dahin bhallay (dahin vada, dahin bhalla, dahin vaday) are known by many names and the dish is very popular as a snack in a lot of countries like India, Pakistan, Mauritius, Kenya and of course in Asian households around the world. 

There are a multitude of different recipes for making dahin bhallay, but by far the best one I have come across is the one made for us by my mum’s friend in San Jose, California.

The lack of too many ingredients in the bhallay will amaze you but the resulting bhallay soaked in cold flavoured yoghurt, drizzled with lashings of homemade tamarind sauce will make you drool and want to try out the recipe immediately.


  • 1 cup skinless mash dhal (white split lentils)
  • 4 cups oil for frying
  • 5 cups warm water with 2 tsp salt for soaking the fried bhallas
  • 2-2.5 cups Greek or any full fat yoghurt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin
  • 1 tsp chillie flakes
  • 1 tsp chaat masala (optional)
  • homemade or bottled tamarind sauce
  • 2 tbs freshly sliced coriander
  • 2 oz finely chopped onion


  1. Wash the dhal in cold water a couple of times and throw out the water. Then soak the dhal in lukewarm water for 3 hours.
  2. Drain the water and place dhal into a blender or a chopper, add 2 tbs of water pulse, and add another 2 tbs of water to ensure mixture is finely ground, take care not to over pulse, if a spoonful of batter easily drops back into the mixture, its done. 
  3. Remove the pulsed mixture into a bowl, add another tbs of water if the mixture has thickened. Gently beat the batter with a plastic spoon or a fork for about 50 times, then leave covered in a draft free cupboard for 2-3 hours (reduce the time if you live in a hot country). 
  4. Mix and beat the mixture again another 20 times so that mixture fluffs up and is light and airy. (FYI its not easy to get the consistency right, so well done for trying!) 
  5. Pour the warm water into a large deep platter, add 2 tsp salt and keep aside. 
  6. Heat the oil to medium in a deep karahi/wok, start dropping a table-spoon at a time of the mixture into the hot oil, if mixture doesn’t drop easily use your finger to slide it out, the shapeless blobs will turn into nice rounds in the oil. Fry in batches of 5 or 6 at a time. 
  7. Lower the heat and as the colour changes on the edges of the bhallas, turn them over one at a time, (do not be tempted to turn them over too soon as they will break into the oil). Cook until the second side is a nice golden brown. 
  8. Remove the bhallay onto some kitchen paper to soak up the excess oil, finish frying the rest of them. You will have 18 or 20 fried bhallas, we will use half for the rest of the recipe and the other half can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. 
  9. Now place half the fried bhallay in a single row in the bowl of water and let them soak right through (15 – 20 mins).
  10. Remove excess water from each bhalla by gently squeezing between the palms of both hands and place them in a single row in a wide deep serving bowl/platter. Save a cup of the water from the soaking of the bhallay to be added to the yoghurt and discard the rest. 
  11. Flavour the yoghurt with salt, cumin, chaat masala (if using) and chillie flakes, add half to one cup of the liquid saved from the soaking bhallay to thin the yoghurt and infuse it with the flavour from the oil. Beat well with a fork and keep the flavoured yoghurt and the dish of bhallay in the refrigerator. 
  12. An hour before serving, gently pour enough of the yoghurt mixture over the bhallay in the serving dish to fully submerge them, a little surplus will be good as they will soak up the yoghurt. Return the dish to the refrigerator. 
  13. Finally, when you are ready to serve, pour a generous amount of tamarind sauce over the bhallay, garnish with the fresh coriander and chopped onions and enjoy cold.


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About Me

I am Sabiha Khokhar, born in Kenya now living in London – a busy working mother, wife, published author and passionate cook. Despite having many interests in life, my greatest joy is FOOD!

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