A deep-fried lentil dumpling that will keep your guests salivating for more, bara is a popular canape served at weddings, Hindu festivals, and casual dinner parties alike. Try it with a side of green chilli chutney for a spicy kick!
- 2 cups yellow split pea dhal (chana dhal) (see Note)
- ½ cup de-skinned urad dhal (see Note)
- 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 3 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ginger, ground
- 1 tsp garlic, ground
- 1 tsp green chilli, ground
- 1½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp fennel seed
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- ½ bunch coriander, chopped
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- red or green chilli chutney to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 8 hours
Soak the split pea dhal overnight in 1 litre water, and the ural dhal in 250 ml (1 cup) water, so that they expand and soften. In the morning, drain the dhals and process each in a food processor until fine. You may need a small amount of the soaking liquid to make them fine enough and so the mixture sticks together.
Heat the oil in a small pot or kadhai (an Indian cooking bowl) over medium heat. Care should be taken to maintain the temperature at a constant 140°C. Prepare a plate lined with paper towel near the stove.
While the oil is heating up, mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Dampen your hands with water so that the mixture won’t stick to them, then take a 50-cent piece size portion (1 flat tablespon measure) of the mixture into the palm of your hand and flatten to form into a disc (about 6 cm wide). Poke your forefinger into the middle to create a donut and slide gently into the oil.
Place four or five baras into the oil, being careful not to drop them in, or the oil will splash up and burn you. (If you’re using a kadhai, you can slide them down the side of the bowl without placing your fingers near the oil.) Fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain well against the side of the saucepan. Rest on the paper towel to cool, and continue with the remaining mixture.
Serve with red or green chilli chutney.
• You should be able to find the dhals in your local Indian grocery. Kadhais will be available to purchase at larger Indian grocery stores, or from an online shop.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Michelle Noerianto. Food preparation by Nick Banbury and Cynthia Black.