Chenna Magic: What Makes The Banarasi Dahi Vada So Unique
Image Credit: Chenna Dahi Vada

Take a walk down the lanes of any city in India, and you will find food carts lined up to serve you some of the most delectable food items. Delhi, for instance, is full of golgappa and chaat walas, while Mumbai vendors are busy sandwiching the vada between a pav. This reminds us of how intrinsic vada is to a range of regional street foods.

Vada is a crispy, fried South Indian doughnut that is usually savoury in taste, but there are many other ways in which it is made. The deep-fried delight can be served with sambhar and coconut chutney, but you’ll also find the same vada dipped in a pool of curd or dahi, known as dahi vada. This refreshing treat is drizzled with some tangy chutney and served chilled.

Now, the basic understanding of a dahi vada is that it is usually made with chana or urad dal, which is soaked in water overnight. But the Banarasis like to do things differently. Taking inspiration from the same dahi vada found elsewhere, they whip up a soft and mushy vada with chenna. Rightly called the savoury cousin of rasmalai, these small balls are made with chenna aka paneer mashed together with a few spices. This is then bound with some soaked bread pieces that hold it together.

The vada is deep-fried until it turns golden-brown and then thrown in a bowl of fresh dahi. The curd used is sweetened beforehand and then added to the vada. This vada not only tastes but also looks more like rasmalai than a vada. The delicious mix of sweet and sour flavours is all thanks to the addition of chaat masala, jeera and black salt. You can also drizzle some tamarind chutney to give it a kick. For garnishing, sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves and drop some fried boondi too.

The magic of chenna works wonders on the taste buds as one gets to dig into Varanasi’s popular take on dahi vada, called chenna dahi vada. This is not only a tasty street food item but also a light and refreshing snack that can be made at home during summers in a matter of just 15 minutes. The use of paneer in rolling the vada balls is what makes this dish so unique and different from the vadas found in other parts of the country.