Crispy bites of pastry-covered daal. These kachoris are inspired by the ones sold at the famous Bhagwanjis sweet mart in Mombasa, Kenya. My entire family rave about these Kenya-style Kachori with moong daal and sour green mango.
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: African, Indian
Keyword: black daal, kachori, moong, pastry, snacks
For the pastry:
450gplain flour(all purpose/maida)
80gcoarse semolina(lightly toasted in a dry frying pan)
4tbspghee(soft but not melted)
5tbspany flavourless cooking oil(I used rapeseed)
For the filling:
400gmoong daal(yellow, skinless)
225graw green mango, peeled and grated(about 2 mangos)
2tbspany flavourless cooking oil(I used sunflower)
110gonion, very finely chopped(1 medium onion)
6thin green chillies, finely chopped
1tspground fennel seeds
125gcrushed sev or gathia
2tbspchopped fresh coriander leaves
2Lany flavourless cooking oilfor 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).
Make aheadYou 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.To cook Kachori from frozenHeat 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 KachoriWhile 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 methodsIt'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.