Spiced Daal and Green Mango in Flaky Pastry
Deep fried starters; once you eat one, you’ll always go back for a second. Fact.
Kachori are like the forgotten little sister of samosa – the underdog starter that accidently slipped through the fingers of Western restaurateurs.
I cannot emphasise enough how good lentils are with sweet, hot and sour flavours. The addition of sour green mango cuts through the richness of the daal and spices and balances the deep heat of the chillies, ginger and cinnamon perfectly.
These kachori are inspired by those sold at the famous Bhagwanjis sweet mart in Mombasa, Kenya. My entire family raves about Kenya-style kachori and these, along with Bateta Vada, are guaranteed to put a smile on my dad’s face. And I can vouch that he has great taste.
Kachori come in all flavours, shapes and sizes. You can stuff the classic flaky pastry with crushed green peas, urad daal or even potatoes. They can be made into UFO-like patties and topped with yoghurt, chopped onions and tomatoes to make chaat, or formed into rounds and served with chutney.
Popular at weddings and parties, the dough and filling for these kachori can be made a day or two in advance, wrapped in cling film and kept in the fridge. Ensure they come to room temperature before forming them and chill again before frying. This will ensure they’re gorgeously crisp once fried.
I toast 1/3 of the mixed flour before adding it to the rest of the flour to make the dough. This will give the pastry added depth of flavour.
The trick to perfect kachori is to ensure the pastry is short, yet pliable enough to wrap thinly enough around the filling without creating holes which may break them whilst frying. Make sure your kachori are perfectly fried by tapping the pastry once they’ve had a chance to cool – they should sound hollow.
Mombasa-style Daal Kachori – Spiced Daal and Green Mango in Flaky Pastry
For the pastry:
155g plain flour
70g chapatti flour
40g coarse semolina
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp ghee, softened (replace with oil for vegan kachori)
Around 115ml cold water
For the filling:
100g mung daal, soaked for 2-3 hours in cold water
1 green mango, grated
1 tbsp ginger, minced
4 green chillies, minced
1 tbsp oil
500ml hot water
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp asafoetida
60g crushed sev or gathia (available in most Indian supermarkets. If you can’t find them, use 60g ground peanuts instead)
1 tbsp fresh coriander, very finely chopped
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
1. First make the filling. Place the soaked and drained daal in a blender with 60ml water and grind to a very coarse paste.
2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large, non-stick pan and add the daal, green mango, ginger, chillies, turmeric, 500ml water, salt and sugar. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick and burn. Once cooked, add the cinnamon, coriander and crushed gathia/sev or ground peanuts. The mixture should become like a paste. Allow to cool.
3. Next, make the dough. Mix together all the dry ingredients. Take 1/3 of the mixture and in a dry pan, toast until nutty and fragrant. Add back into the rest of the flour. Rub in the ghee and oil until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water to form a soft dough. If it’s too hard, add more water. Knead for 8 minutes until soft, smooth and pliable. Think pizza dough softness. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour or so.
4. Roll the daal filling into 25 balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Remove the dough from the fridge and give it another knead. Divide into 25 pieces. Remove the daal filling from the fridge. Take the first dough ball and using a rolling pin and a flourless surface, roll into a circle until around 4-5 inches in diameter. Place a ball of the daal filling in the centre and pull the dough around it, pinching the dough closed and removing some excess using the length of your index finger and thumb. Roll the ball gently between your palms ensuring there are no creases or holes in the dough, especially where you sealed. If there are, the kachoris will burst whilst frying and the filling will become really greasy. Repeat for the rest.
6. Refrigerate for around 20 minutes.
7. Heat enough oil in a wok to deep fry the kachori. Make sure the flame is low because they need to be fried slowly. Remove the kachori from the fridge and gently slide them into the wok. Don’t overcrowd it. Each batch needs to be fried for around 20 minutes until deep golden brown; move them around so they get even colouring. Remove from the wok and drain on a kitchen paper-lined colander. They should sound hollow to the tap.
8. Repeat the frying process for the remaining kachori.
I like to serve these with fresh coriander chutney, tamarind and date chutney or fig chutney.