Potato patties with chana dal is an easy Indian recipe that can be enjoyed as an elegant vegetarian appetizer or main course.
This traditional Indian recipe for potato patties with chana dal is adapted from the great Indian food writer, chef, and cookbook author Tarla Dalal.
Dalal got her start teaching cooking classes from her home in 1966, and went on to become one of India’s best-known cooking teachers.
She has authored over 100 books, and her website, tarladalal.com is a great resource for Indian food lovers around the world.
I found this recipe for potato patties with dal in her cookbook, “Mumbai’s Roadside Snacks.” The cookbook I had bought in a small store in Mumbai’s Chembur district.
I couldn’t resist buying the thin book. Who doesn’t want Indian street food, especially when you’re standing in a city famous for it?
Potato patties or aloo tikki?
In India, potato patties are commonly known as aloo tikkis.
Aloo tikki consist of mashed potatoes mixed with aromatic spices and herbs, which are then shaped into patties and fried in ghee.
You can find aloo tikki in the appetizer section of most Indian restaurant menus. It’s typically served with cilantro and tamarind chutneys and topped with fried crunchy bits.
What you need to know is that when aloo tikki is served with dal, the dish is called ragda pattice. Sometimes you will find this dish on a menu. In that case you will feel very smart right?
So street vendors in Mumbai especially like to serve aloo tikki with a side of chana dal, which is a mildly spiced stew.
Personally, I find the simplicity of the dal to be a wonderful accompaniment with the potato patties, which have a bit of a bite to them from the pungency of the garlic, ginger, and green chilis.
Overall, I feel this dish is easy to love, even if Indian flavors are new to you.
Gourmet Indian street food
I made this recipe as an appetizer for guests on my husband’s birthday, and I couldn’t help but admire its beautiful simplicity.
The golden orange and yellow color of the potato patty, accented with green mint-coriander chutney, and reddish-brown tamarind chutney, looked stunning on the white plates.
It looks incredibly gourmet, but it’s actually just Indian street food.
What is chana dal?
Chana dal, also known as bengal gram, are actually chickpeas that have been skinned and split.
You might be interested to know that the Hindi word for chickpeas is chana. You might have heard of chana masala, which is a popular Indian dish made from chickpeas that you can find on the Buttered Veg website.
So in the case of chana dal, the “dal” refers to the fact that the chickpea has been skinned and split.
Chana dal is one of the most popular ingredients in Indian cuisine.
Chickpea flour, which is known as gram flour in Indian cuisine, is made from chana dal.
>> You can buy chana dal on Amazon using this link.
Toppings and chutneys
You can always garnish your potato patties with a bit of minced red onion, fresh cilantro, and tomato, but cilantro chutney and tamarind chutney are Indian street food pairing classics.
You can either make the chutneys yourself, or purchase them at any Indian grocery store or online.
At an Indian store, you can look for chutneys in the fridge, freezer, or grocery isle.
I always keep a jar of tamarind chutney in my fridge, and frozen packets of coriander-mint chutney in the freezer.
You can make cilantro chutney from scratch using my recipe.
I also found a tamarind chutney on Amazon. It's sold by Pure Indian Foods, which is a company I trust 100 percent.
If you don’t have chutneys, a garnish of minced red onion, fresh cilantro, and tomato, would also do the trick.
A fresh lemon wedge, or any Indian pickle, such as tomato pickle or mango pickle, would also be nice.
I hope you give this recipe a try! It is quite easy to make.
Potato Patties with Chana Dal
For the potato patties
To cook the potato patties
- 2 tablespons ghee, for frying
To cook the dal
- ¾ cup split chana dal
- 2-3 cups water
- pinch salt
Method for the dal
- Soak the channa dal for 2 hours, or longer. Drain water and rinse well.
- Cook the chana dal: You can cook the channa dal in a pressure cooker or a regular saucepan. Combine channa dal with cold water and a pinch of salt. The pressure cooker needs 2 cups water and 10 minutes under high pressure. The saucepan will need 3 cups water and about 40 minutes to simmer. The dal is cooked when it is soft and starting to fall apart.
- Finish the chana dal: Heat a medium saucepan on medium-low heat and add oil and black mustard seeds. When about half of the mustard seeds have popped, add the optional asafetida and turmeric powder and sizzle for about 20 seconds. Then immediately add the cooked channa dal (along with the cooking water) and ½ teaspoon of salt. Stir, and mash slightly with your spoon. Simmer for 8–10 minutes.
Method for the potato patties
- Wash 3-4 potatoes (2 cups worth) and place in a saucepan. Cover with cold water by 2 inches, then place on high heat and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, partially covered, until a knife inserted into the potato comes out easily. Drain the water and set aside the potatoes to cool.
- Use your hands to crumble the potatoes as finely as possible, or a potato masher to mash the potatoes (or both).
- In a medium bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, rice flour, turmeric powder, red chili powder, garlic, ginger, green chili, and salt. Mix well.
- Roughly divide the potato mixture into 8 equal portions using a knife. Roll the first portion into a ball using your hands, then smush slightly so it looks more like a thick disk. Set on a plate or cutting board, then repeat with the remaining portions.
- Place a sauté pan on medium-low heat. Add half the ghee. Place the potato patties in the pan and fry until golden brown. Turn the patties over and add the rest of the ghee. Cook until both sides are golden brown. (If you like, sprinkle on extra spices before turning them the first time.)
- Place a quarter of the hot dal on a plate or in a wide bowl. Top with two potato patties.
- Garnish with minced red onion, finely chopped tomato, and/or coriander leaves. If you have the chutneys, you can spoon some on top of the patties just before serving.