Daaler bora or lentil fritters are an evergreen accompaniment for a typical Bengali meal. These light and crispy balls of delight can take your run of the mill dinner to a new level, which is precisely why a Bengali will often use it to dress up a plain old lentils and rice meal.
These are so tasty on their own, you will be hard pressed to not finish them straight from the frying pan. Be sure to make a large batch any time you decide to make these. Serve them as appetizers, or as snacks to go with your drinks, alcoholic or even tea as we do traditionally. For a party, you can even make them in advance and reheat them in a snap in the oven. Nobody will notice because they will taste as good as new! And making them is a cinch, which means that if you happen to have a craving for them anytime, you don’t have to wait too long before you can indulge in them.
One can make these with any lentils, but red lentils are most commonly used and easiest to process.
RECIPE: Red Lentil Fritters or Masoor Daler Bora
Makes about 30 fritters
1 cup of red lentils – split and without skin
1 level tsp salt
1-2 tbsp very finely chopped onion
1 finely chopped green chilli (optional)
1 pinch nigella seeds (optional)
- Rinse the lentils in cold water two-three times, i.e. put the lentils in a bowl, fill the bowl half way with cold water, swirl with your fingers a couple of times and then slowly and carefully pour out the water. Repeat.
- In a large bowl, let the lentils soak in plenty of water. If you don’t have a heavy duty grinder or a rough and tough food processor, I would recommend soaking them overnight. Otherwise, an hour’s soaking should be enough. Since my Indian grinder bade me farewell a few months ago, I soaked mine overnight.
- Grind the lentils into a puree using as little water as possible. I used my Cuisinart food chopper, which I am sure was not built for such things, but did an admirable job nonetheless. I think this is because red lentils are rather tender anyway, plus the overnight soaking softened them even more. Add only just enough water to keep the blades moving, not more!
4. Add salt. Now beat in air! This is the most important step in this whole recipe and if you have a nice grinder or food processor, chances are that the pureed lentils will automatically get a lot of air beaten into them. In order to ensure that, let the machine run for a minute or so even after the lentils looked well pureed.
Otherwise, get to work with a whisk or a fork. The motion is clockwise, but at an incline, so that half the time your fork is in the air. Got it? Imagine that instead of folding in whipped cream, you are folding in air into the lentils. Yes…that’s the kind of movement you need to make. Your batter should feel fluffy. How do you know for sure?
Here’s how – let a drop of the batter fall into a bowl of cold water. The batter should not sink but float at the surface.
When in doubt add a pinch of baking powder.
5. Fold in the onion, chilli, and nigella seeds.
6. Heat enough oil for deep frying in a pan or pot. To check if your oil is hot enough, carefully let a drop of the batter fall into the oil. The drop should sink to the bottom and right away float to the surface while sizzling away. If your oil is not hot enough, your fritters will be greasy, so do follow this step!
7. Using a teaspoon, drop spoonfuls of the batter into the oil, very carefully. Do not overcrowd. Fry till golden brown at the edges and then flip over with a slotted spoon.
8. When golden brown on both sides, remove with the slotted spoon and lay on a baking sheet lined with kitchen paper. You can make the daaler bora several hours before you need to serve them. Once cooled down, you can store them in an airtight container. They will get soggy. No problem!
Half an hour before you are ready to consume them, heat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Arrange the fritters on a tray lined with baking paper and reheat for 20 minutes in the oven. Crispy, as good as new daaler bora!