Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Year's Eve Snacking

ডালের বড়া 
Daaler Bora or Lentil Fritters

My batch of NYE daal bora, all plated up for us to devour

Happy New Year everyone! To kick-off 2018, I'm posting a very traditional recipe for daaler bora, or lentil fritters. 

The daaler bora is very different from the other fritters I've written about for the blog. First of all, it has no flour - gram or otherwise - and the daal or lentil is what goes straight into the hot oil. Secondly, making a batch of them is a bit of a challenge: the lentils need planned pre-soaking, followed by blending and careful frying to avoid disintegration. Oddly enough, in generations past they were considered an easy enough snack to whip up. I assume this is because households would have lentils soaking anyway as part of their daily routine, and making daaler bora would just involve swiping some from that stash. Things have changed nowadays though, and in our family the daaler bora is usually bought from neighbourhood eateries - at least when we're in Bangladesh. It's much less frequently made at home, and usually only for special occasions like Ramadan, when it's an iftaar staple. In general, the daaler bora is a tea-time snack, though it can also be eaten as a side during a larger meal. The fritters are also the first phase of another dish called the doi bora, though I'm not a big fan.

The ingredients used vary from family to family, and change between Bangladesh and the rest of South Asia, as well as between Hindu and Muslim families. My family recipe is quite basic, using only one type of lentil, salt, chilli, turmeric and onion. Other families may use a mix of different lentils, and also add spices and herbs to liven things up. In the recipe below I've added coriander, but otherwise I've kept things pretty simple. I've also snuck in a bit of baking powder, something one of our chefs taught me to do, as it makes the boras stay crunchier for longer. This is really useful if you want to make them a little ahead, as I was doing to take to a New Year's party an hour away. Boras like these are usually served with dips and sauces. I served my most recent batch with sriracha, but tamarind-based sauces or ketchup are the more common accompaniment. The recipe below makes about 24 boras, each about 3.00 centimetres across. 


  • 150.00 g red lentils (moshurer daal)
  • 0.50 red onions
  • 1.00 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 0.50 teaspoons of baking powder
  • Coriander, a small handful
  • Chilli flakes, to taste
  • Salt, to taste

  • Leave the lentils to soak and soften for 2 hours. At the end of this process, the grains should break up easily, even when crushed by hand
  • Drain the water from the lentils and transfer to a blender. Blend into a smooth paste, then pour into a large mixing bowl
  • Alternatively, the lentils can be ground into a paste using a traditional stone shilpata. However, soak the lentils for 4 hours at least in this case, to ease the grinding process
  • Once the lentil paste is ready, finely chop the onion and coriander
  • Mix the onion, coriander, turmeric, chilli flakes, baking powder and salt into the lentil paste. Let this mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes. This allows the onion and coriander flavours to permeate the batter. If desired, taste test for salt at this point

The lentil paste with all the ingredients
mixed in

  • While the flavours mature, put a wok or pan on medium heat. Pour cooking oil into the pan, forming a half-centimetre layer
  • Once the oil is hot, scoop up a tablespoon of lentil batter and add to the pan, flattening out the patty quickly before it solidifies
  • Repeat this process, scooping up more patties and adding them to the oil - forming as many as the size of the pan allows. I usually aim for 4 in one go, but more get difficult for me to manage
  • Aim for patties less than a centimetre thick, as these will cook quicker and the end result will be a crunchier fritter

Patties frying in hot oil

  • Fry the fritters on medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes on one side, before flipping over and cooking the reverse sides for another 2 or 3 minutes
  • Both sides should be golden-brown when done, and cooking times will vary based on the thickness of the fritter and the temperature of the oil
  • Once a fritter is cooked, scoop it out of the oil and place on a paper towel. This should soak up any excess oil 
  • Keeping cooking the patties in this manner until all of the batter is finished, adding more oil to the pan as necessary
  • Fritters like these are usually served hot, straight from the pan to the table if possible. However, the baking powder will help these keep their crunch for a few hours, and they can be reheated in the oven if desired
  • Cold fritters are also fine to eat, and daal bora will in fact keep in the fridge for up to a week
  • Serve as a snack, or as a side as part of the bigger meal 

Additional Info:
As I've already discussed, add whatever spicing you prefer to the batter before frying. Traditional choices would be ground cumin and/or coriander seed - but I'm sure other spices would work, as would fresh herbs. In fact, a more richly spiced, bigger version of this could easily serve as the patty to a vegetarian burger. Finally, a note on the chilli flakes - these are an aesthetic choice of mine, and a more traditional recipe would call for chilli powder. 

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