Savory Chana Dal Fritters with Tomatoes and Spices

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Savory Chana Dal Fritters with Tomatoes and Spices

I don't typically deep-fry foods as I generally prefer baked versions of savory appetizers to keep the mess and grease down. But there are exceptions. Like these Indian spiced chana dal fritters for example. As it turns out, these light, crispy and spicy fritters weren't very oily at all, and I enjoyed them for lunch smothered with a homemade chutney. Crispy on the outside but delightfully moist and airy in the inside, these easy-to-make fritters are a treat indeed. And very addictive. They are best served warm and fresh out of the pan, but they do keep well covered in the fridge for a day or so. Simply heat them up covered with foil in the oven in a low temperature preheated oven and enjoy them again.

Chana Dal Fritters

I served these with a fresh coconut chutney with tamarind and cilantro.

Savory Chana Dal Fritters with Tomatoes and SpicesSavory Chana Dal Fritters with Tomatoes and Spices
Recipe by
Adapted from Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking
Cuisine: Indian
Published on May 4, 2015

A blend of chana dal, tomatoes and Indian spices turned into light, crispy golden-brown fritters — delicious served with a chutney for lunch or as an appetizer

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  • 2/3 cup chana dal, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ghee or other oil
  • 2 to 3 green chilies, seeded and minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, grated or minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • water as needed (about 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • peanut oil or other high-smoking point oil for frying
  • Soak the dal in enough water to cover for 5 to 6 hours. Drain, rinse again, and transfer to a food processor.

  • Heat the ghee or oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the chilies, ginger, coriander seeds and fennel seeds, and fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the turmeric, cumin, cayenne, and asafetida, stir a few times, and then add the tomatoes. Simmer, stirring often, until the tomatoes are reduced to a fairly thick paste. Set aside to cool a bit.

  • Add 4 tablespoons of water to the dal in the food processor and pulse for 3 to 4 minutes, stopping often to scrape down the sides as needed and also adding a bit more water as need. You want a smooth and airy batter. Add the tomato mixture, arrowroot and sea salt, and process for another 30 seconds. Scrape the batter into a bowl.

  • Heat 2 1/2 inches of oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or deep frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, drop a small bit of the batter into the oil. When the oil is ready, the batter should rise immediately to the top. Carefully lower several portions of about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil, taking care not to crowd the pan. When the patties begin to rise to the surface, gently move them around to brown evenly. This should take about 3 to 4 minutes, until crisp and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining fritters. They can be kept warm in a 225° oven until the fritters are finished. They can also be reheated for a few minutes under the broiler.

  • Serve hot or warm with your favorite chutneys and sauces.

Makes about 12 fritters or 4 servings

chana dal fritters with spices

Other Indian savories to enjoy:
Chana Vada (Chana Dal Peanut Patties) with a Tamarind Chili Sauce
Potato Patties Stuffed with Spiced Green Peas (Aloo Matar Tikki)
Vegetarian Samosa Cakes with Tamarind Chutney
Samosa-Style Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Audio Accompaniment: chirping birds


Srivalli said...

Thank you..those fritters look so yum!

Joanne said...

I'm highly convinced that if you fry things at the right temperature, they don't have to be oil! These look like such tasty bites.

janet elsbach said...

these were delicious!

Fareeda said...

This looks very interesting. I am thinking of baking these in a donut pan. Does anyone know what oven temperature to use?

Lisa Turner said...

Hi Fareeda. I don't know how they would work out if baked, but you try a 350 degree preheated oven. If you do try a baked version, I would be interested in hearing the results.

niki said...

wow these really look lovely and easy to make, I will try this recipe tomorrow, thanks again Lisa, as always a lovely recipe :-)

Lisa Turner said...

Let me know how they turn out for you Niki. xox