Prep the filling
- 200 g kalai’er dal (biuli’r dal or urad dal)
- 60 g water
- 35 g ginger
- 10 g green chillies
- ½ tsp salt
- 8 g mouri (fennel seeds)
Cook the filling
- 20 g vegetable oil
- ¼ tsp kaalo jeere (nigella seeds)
- ½ tsp hing (asafoetida)
- 28 g ginger + chilli paste
- 5 g mouri powder
- 26 g salt
- 5 g sugar
- 320 g kalai’er dal paste
For the dough
- 300 g maida
- 5 g salt
- 12 g sugar
- 20 g oil
- 15 g ginger + chilli paste
- 3 g mouri powder
- 130 g kalai’er dal paste
- 75 g water (approximate)
Sweet dreams are made of this. In Bengali cuisine kochuri refers to a wide variety of stuffed, deep-fried pastries. Kochuri can be stuffed with everything from different kinds of lentils, to fish and meat. But while other kochuris have very literal and prosaic names, this particular one stuffed with biuli’r/kolai’er dal has been bestowed a name that is at once poetic and divine. Fortunately the dish does tastes as good as it sounds! Serve this with alu’r dom or chhola’r dal and prepare to listen to your loved ones sing praises for your cooking.
- Wash, then soak the kalai’er dal overnight in plenty of water.
- The next day drain the water thoroughly, and transfer to a grinder jar. Add 60 grams of water and grind it coarsely. If it is too smooth, the radhaballabhi won't have any texture. If the grind is too coarse the kochuri will get punctured and won't puff up.
- Grind the fennel seeds quite fine in a mortar pestle, even better in a small spice grinder.
- Grind together fresh ginger and green chillies with half a teaspoon of salt until smooth.
Make the dough
- In a large mixing bowl weigh out the plain flour, salt, sugar, ground fennel, 15 grams of the ginger and green chilli paste, and 20 grams of vegetable oil. Rub the flour between your fingers to distribute the oil evenly.
- Next, add 130 grams of the ground kolai’er dal. Mix the dal well into the flour. This is important so you know how much more water to add to form the dough. Adding the kolai’er dal and spices to the dough is unusual, but will elevate your radhaballabhis to the next level — it's a tip we learnt from dinna (Saptarshi's maternal grandmother)
- Add water. We used 75 grams.
- Knead well continuously for five minutes (can be longer if you are making a larger batch) until the dough becomes smooth and soft.
- Cover the dough with a tight lid or a bowl and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Cook the filling
- Heat a korai or wok and add 20 grams of vegetable oil to it.
- Lower the heat and temper the oil with kalo jeere and hing.
- Immediately, add the rest of the ginger and green chilli paste and fry. You may add a splash of water to prevent the spices from burning.
- Add the remaining ground fennel and stir.
- Add the salt and sugar. Fry until the the oil separates and the sugar caramelises.
- Add the remaining ground kolai’er dal (320 g) and stir to mix. The dal needs to fry well in order to develop a nutty flavour. Keep stirring patiently, on low heat. You will need to scrape the sides of the korai because the dal is very sticky. A round bottomed wok (korai) and a flat metal spatula (khunti) are the best tool for the job.
- Eventually, the whole paste will form a dry lump. Transfer it to a bowl and spread it out to cool. This is your radhaballabhi filling.
Assembly and frying
- Using scissors and a weighing scale divide the dough into 45-gram portions. Form them into balls. Our recipe produces 12 balls.
- Divide the filling into 20 gram portions.
- Flatten the dough using your fingers until it forms a disk big enough to hold the filling. Place the filling at the center of the disk of dough. Use your fingers to push the dough around the filling so that the dough engulfs the filling. Seal the end. Roll it between your palms to smoothen out any seams. Coat well with oil (the dough is very sticky because of the dal in it) and store on a plate, covered. Watch the video to get a better sense of the exact process.
- Once all the dough balls are stuffed and ready, set vegetable oil to heat in a korai for deep frying.
- Grease your rolling surface and rolling pin with oil. Roll with a light hand into 14 cm disks (for 45 gram dough and 20 gram filling). It should neither be too thin nor too thick for the kochuri to have a crispy outside but a soft inside.
- Make sure the oil is very hot (200º C). If the oil is not hot enough the radhaballabhi won't puff up, and will turn out hard and greasy.
- Lower the kochuri into the oil. Gently press with the jhnajhri hata or perforated spoon until fully puffed up. Turn them over and fry the other side. The frying process won't take more than 40 seconds. Remove from oil and place in a perforated colander or jhuri to allow the steam to escape. Otherwise, the radhaballabhi will lose their crunch and become soggy.
- Serve at room temperature (yes, they are not served piping hot) with alu'r dom or chhola'r dal.
- Mortar and pestle or shilnora
- Korai or wok
- Khunti or metal spatula
- Rolling pin
- Jhnajhri hata or perforated spoon for frying
- Jhuri or colander