Every mum has a special party dish. This is my mum’s. I’ve seen it come out at birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings, and there is a good reason for this—all our family and friends badger her to cook it. After frying, the fritters are traditionally dipped in water, covered in yogurt, and then coated in chutney. But I prefer my fritters crunchy, so (with Mum’s permission) I’ve left that step out.
NOTE: You’ll need a blender for the chutneys.
Makes 25 (serves 6 to 8 as a snack)
FOR THE FRITTERS
1 cup split urad dal, or white lentils
1½ Indian green chiles, roughly chopped
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1¼ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
canola or sunflower oil
FOR THE RED PEPPER CHUTNEY
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1/3 teaspoon salt
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 teaspoon ground red chile
up to 2 teaspoons sugar
FOR THE DATE CHUTNEY
¾ cup dates, pitted
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
2½ teaspoons tamarind paste (or to taste)
FOR THE YOGURT DRESSING
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
seeds of 1 pomegranate
2/3 cup cilantro, leaves picked and chopped
Wash the dal in a few changes of cold water until the water runs clear, then leave to soak for 6 hours or overnight. When the dal has finished soaking, make the chutneys. Place all the ingredients for the red pepper chutney in a blender and whizz to a fine consistency, adding a couple of tablespoons of water if need be. Transfer to a bowl. Then blend all the ingredients for the date chutney, along with ½ cup of water, and transfer to a bowl. To make the yogurt dressing, put the yogurt into a bowl, and add the sugar and salt along with 1/3 cup of water. Stir to mix. Cover and refrigerate both the chutneys and the dressing.
To make the fritters, drain the dal and place in a blender or food processor. Add the green chiles, ginger, salt, turmeric, and cumin seeds, and pour in up to ¾ cup of water, adding it little by little until the batter is a hummus-like consistency. Place a high-sided frying pan over medium heat at the back of the stove, then pour in 1¾ inches of oil. You’ll know it’s ready when you put a bit of the mix in and it floats to the top—or use a thermometer and wait for it to reach 350°F. Have a plate lined with paper towels standing by.
Scoop up a generous teaspoonful of batter and scrape it into the oil with another teaspoon. Move around with a slotted spoon for 2 to 4 minutes, until it turns an almond color, then drain and place on the paper towels. Taste for texture and flavor: it should be fluffy inside, so if it’s doughy increase the cooking time, and adjust the salt and chile as you see fit. Fry 10 or 12 at a time until you’ve used all the batter. Place the fritters on a large platter. Spoon over the yogurt, dot with the red pepper chutney, and follow with the date chutney. Finally, scatter over the pomegranate seeds and top with the chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.