It is monsoon season in Gujarat and it dalwadas galore! Gujaratis flock to eat this savoury snack — fried green gram dumplings — which are delicious, wholesome and yes, sinful too for anyone watching their calories. But these moong dalwadas do roaring business as the skies open up.
When it is drizzling, or it has just stopped raining, one can view serpentine queues outside roadside carts selling dalwadas, which is normally served along with onions and fried chillies and sometimes, with red and green chutneys. This simple, seemingly everyday snack has an unbelievable fan following among Gujaratis and also non-Gujaratis who reside in the state. It is so famous that people are ready to drive miles and stand in long queues at their favourite dalwada joints.
Speaking of her love for dalwadas, Vadodara resident Tuli Banerjee, a food and lifestyle blogger, tells me, “When it rains, the first thing that comes to mind is to queue up at places like Ambica Dalwada and Gujarat Dalwada to buy kilos of the snack to share and eat with my loved ones. It has been a decade and a half since, but the memories are still afresh of my friend and me, standing drenched outside Ambica Dalwada. We would get some packed and take it to our favourite hangout spot. It would be a date with hot and spicy dalwadas with green chillies and onions. Dalwadas are to Gujaratis what Khichuri and Papad are to Bengalis.”
The most famous shop in Ahmedabad for dalwadas is Gujarat Dalwadas, near the 150-year-old Gujarat Arts and Science College in Ellisbridge area. The shop was established by Mahesh Singh Yadav in 1982. While Mr Yadav owns the shop today, he started by selling his dalwadas from a pushcart. The pushcart is also still operational on the roadside close to Gujarat College.
Generations of people from Ahmedabad swear by his dalwadas and line up at his shop and cart.
Similar fried dumplings are made from various lentils in different parts of India. In South India, one can get vadas made out of channa dal and Urad dal, which is called Medhu vadas. In Bengal, one can get fried dumplings called Daler Bora — which is also made out of channa dal. In Delhi and other parts of North India, one can get Moong dal wadas — which are called Ram Ladoos. These are especially popular in shopping centres like Lajpat Nagar Market and Sarojini Nagar Market. These are served with spicy chutney as an accompaniment.
In Assam, there is Dal Pakoras and in Kerala, one can get similar fried lentil dumplings called Parippu Vada. In neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, one gets Mong Dal Bhajiyas.
Most states have their versions of fried lentil dumplings which are eternally popular.
Food writer Saumil Raval, who operates Hunger Hop, a successful food group on Facebook, explains Gujarat’s love for dalwada — “Dalwada is that scrumptious delicacy that Gujjus simply love to gorge on since from time immemorial, it is associated with the first drops of rain caressing the earth. That very moment, of a kind of newness and freshness, that brings out a craving for something uniquely ours — and that makes one rush to the nearest dalwada outlet.”
Here is a simple dalwada recipe for you to enjoy this monsoon.
Moong Dal: 200 gms (with or without skin)
Green Chillies: 4 or 5
Garlic: 8 to 10 pods
Green coriander leaves: 20 grams
Salt to taste
¼ teaspoon Soda Bicarbonate
Oil to fry
Soak the lentils overnight.
Grind and add garlic, salt and green chillies while grinding. Don’t add too much water — you want the batter to be of dripping consistency.
Wash, chop and add the green coriander leaves to the Moong Dal paste.
Add 2 or 3 pinches of Soda Bicarbonate and mix the batter vigorously to incorporate air in the batter.
After mixing for 5 minutes, the batter should become fluffy.
Heat about one cup of vegetable oil in a kadhai.
Drop a small lemon-size batter in hot oil using your hands or a spoon. Fry till crisp and golden.
Serve hot with sliced raw onions, fried green chillies and green chutney.
The dalwadas should be crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.
Of course, the rain is also an essential accompaniment!