Mombasa-Style Daal Kachori are crispy, pastry-covered daal and green mango snacks. This recipe is inspired by the hot and sour moong daal Kachori sold at Bhagwanjis sweet mart in Mombasa, Kenya.
They’re the snack of my father’s childhood and this is a recipe that together, we have developed over the years.
What are Kachori?
Deep fried snacks of flaky pastry and spicy filling. Filling options are endless but these moong daal Kachori are my favourite. 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 accidentally slipped through the fingers of Western restaurateurs.
What do Mombasa-Style Daal Kachori taste like?
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.
What are some other popular Kachori fillings?
Kachori come in all flavours, shapes and sizes. You can stuff the classic flaky pastry with onions, crushed green peas, urad daal or even potatoes. The filling is always strong and spicy. This heat is what give Kachori thie robustness.
The three bite-sized snacks can be made into UFO-like patties. Top them with yoghurt, sev, chopped onions and tomatoes to make Kachori chaat.
What do you eat with Kachori?
These Kenya-style Kachori are delicious with Tamarind and Date Chutney but you can serve them with any chutney you like.
In India, Delhi is the state most famous for Khasta Kachori. There, the flat-style of Kachori (usually filled with onions and/or potatoes, or peas) are served with a green coriander chutney or red chilli. Kachori are always a delicious accompaniment to serve with Masala Chai.
Can I make Kachori ahead of time?
Absolutely. They’re a popular weddings party snack so if you’d like to feed a crowd, they are ideal. Make the filling for these Kachori a day or two in advance. Simply wrap in cling film keep in the fridge.
Having said this, I recommend that you make the dough on the same day.
How to make Kachori ahead of time
You can prepare Mombasa-Style Daal Kachori in advance and keep in the freezer for easy cooking later. Half-fry the Kachori for around 6 minutes until light blonde in colour. Allow to cool on absorbent kitchen paper and then pack into a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 6 months. Cook straight from frozen.
How to cook Kachori from frozen
Heat oil in a pan suitable for deep frying. The oil temperature should be 175°C/350°F. Fry the Kachori in small batches until golden brown and piping hot, about 4 minutes.
To oven bake or air-fry half-fried Kachori
While these Kachori may not be suitable for baking or air frying, half-fried and then frozen Kachori can be reheated in the oven or air fryer. Cook from frozen at 175°C/350°F for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
Alternative cooking methods for Kachori
It’s possible to cook Kachori in an appam or paniyaram pan but the overall look and texture will be different to fried Kachori. I don’t do it but if you like, you can try that.
How to make perfect Kachori pastry
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 when you fry them.
Make sure your kachori are perfect by tapping the pastry once cool – they should sound hollow.
Toasted semolina will give the pastry a delicious depth of flavour.
Why is my Kachori pastry breaking?
Not enough oil/fat or the dough has not been kneaded enough. Kachori dough must be short so fats are imperative. Add too little and the pastry will be thick and doughy. Knead the dough for at least 8 minutes and then rest for 30 minutes so the gluten has a chance to relax.
Why is my Kachori dough thick and soft?
Not enough water. Water not ice cold. Ensure you add ample ice-cold water to the dough for a crispy finish. If your Kachori pastry is thick and soft, the water was not cold enough to create shortness and flakiness.
How to wrap Kachori
To form the Kachori, take a portion of dough. Press it out to flatten onto your palm, about 5cm wide. Place the formed daal filling in the centre and gently pull the pastry around the daal to cover.
Pinch the dough closed and remove excess dough using the length of your index finger and thumb. Try to use pull gently from the top so that gravity naturally pulls the Kachori down. This will give the Kachori a very thin and even coverage.
How to make vegan Kachori
Replace the ghee in the pastry for the same measure of vegan butter or oil. Then follow the recipe as directed.
Mombasa-Style Daal Kachori recipe
For the pastry:
- 450 g plain flour (all purpose/maida)
- 80 g coarse semolina (lightly toasted in a dry frying pan)
- 2 tsp fine salt
- 4 tbsp ghee (soft but not melted)
- 5 tbsp any flavourless cooking oil (I used rapeseed)
- 275 g ice-cold water
For the filling:
- 400 g moong daal (yellow, skinless)
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 225 g raw green mango, peeled and grated (about 2 mangos)
- 2 tbsp any flavourless cooking oil (I used sunflower)
- 110 g onion, very finely chopped (1 medium onion)
- 2 tbsp grated ginger
- 6 thin green chillies, finely chopped
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 125 g crushed sev or gathia
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
- 50 g sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 L any flavourless cooking oil for deep frying
To make the daal filling:
- Wash the moong daal in plenty of cold water. Drain and repeat 2-3 times. Allow the daal to soak in hot water for 2 hours.
- Drain the soaked daal and place in a pot filled with plenty of water. Add ground turmeric and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for around 10-15 minutes until al dente, about 90% cooked. Keep checking and remove from the heat when the daal breaks when pressed between your fingers. It shouldn't mash completely. Drain.
- Heat oil in a frying pan. Add finely-chopped onions, minced ginger and chillies. Stir well and sauté just until the onions have softened, about 2-3 minutes. The onions shouldn't brown.
- Add the onion mixture to the cooked and drained daal, along with the grated raw mango, ground cinnamon, ground fennel seeds, ground cloves, salt, sugar, sev and fresh coriander leaves. Stir the mixture well to combine. It might seem like a lot of spices, salt and sugar but Kachori filling must be strong. The daal is very bland by itself and requires this amount of seasoning to produce a good result.
To make the dough:
- Place the plain flour in a bowl, along with semolina and salt. Mix briefly to combine.
- Add the ghee and oil and use your fingertips to rub the flours and fats together, similar to making shortcrust pastry or a crumble. This process is called "moarn" in Hindi. The step is complete when the flour holds together in a solid mass when squeezed together. It should crumble under gentle pressure.
- Next, add the water and mix to form a shaggy dough. Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead the dough for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
- Pop the dough back into a bowl and cover. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
To assemble the Kachori:
- Once the daal mixture has cooled, mash it using a potato masher or pau bhaji masher. Whole daal should still be visible in the mixture but it should be mashed enough so that it holds together when you press it into a ball shape.
- Form the daal mixture into approximately 24g balls. They shouldn't be too large. Arrange on a tray or large plate.
- Divide the rested dough into 18g portions and cover again.
- To form the Kachori, take a portion of dough. Press it out to flatten onto your palm, about 5cm wide. Place the formed daal filling in the centre and gently pull the pastry around the daal to cover. Pinch the dough closed and remove excess dough using the length of your index finger and thumb. Try to use pull gently from the top so that gravity naturally pulls the Kachori down. This will give the Kachori a very thin and even coverage.
- 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 Kachori will burst whilst frying and the filling will become really greasy. Repeat for the rest.
To fry the Kachori:
- Heat oil in a pan suitable for deep frying. The oil should be at least 6cm deep.
- Once the oil temperature reaches 160°C/320°F, you're ready to fry the Kachori.
- Carefully place the Kachori into the hot oil, one at a time. Fry only a handful at a time depending on the size of your pan. If you add to many at once, the oil temperature will drop and this will affect how your Kachori cook.
- Try not to move the Kachori around too much at first. Once the outer coating of pastry firms up, you can begin to move them around so that they cook evenly. Use a perforated spoon or frying spider to bob the Kachori around in the oil. Don't increase the temperature. A low frying temperature is ideal so that they Kachori become very crispy. The semolina will ensure they don't absorb a lot of oil.
- The Kachori will take around 8 minutes over a medium-low heat. After this time, you can increase the oil temperature to 175°C/350°F for the last 2 minutes. The Kachori will turn a beautiful golden brown colour. Once they have reached this point, lift the Kachori out of the oil and place them onto a plate lined with kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil.
- Repeat the frying process for all of the Kachori, ensuring you allow the oil to cool down to 160°C/320°F before you fry every new batch.
- Serve the Mombasa-Style Daal Kachori with my Tamarind & Date Chutney (recipe linked below).