Nuchinunde: Steamed, Herb-Flavoured Lentil Dumplings

Our fast-paced lives do not allow us to take care of ourselves and have driven us to be more conscious about healthy eating than ever. And what better way to start one than looking for options within our cultural treasure? Karnataka, for instance, is replete with steam-cooked healthy and savoury dishes like Nuchinunde, a dumpling made of toor and chana dal. The humble-looking snack is a storehouse of all the desired flavours, especially aromatic and pungent herbs like coriander, dill and curry leaves. Nuchinunde tastes unforgettably delightful when paired with yoghurt dip whipped up with roasted and powdered spices, coconut and coriander leaves.

Before knowing anything else, understanding the word Nuchinunde is important. The Kannada word is composed of Nuchi meaning broken bits and Unde meaning small balls, referring to small balls of broken lentil pieces. Although steam-cooked food is an indispensable part of Kannada food tradition, Nuchinunde is different from its counterparts as it's packed in proteins and is an extremely healthy meal. It's a popular breakfast meal which is eaten with coconut chutney or Majjige Huli. Traditionally made with soaked and ground lentils, toor dal and chana dal and dill leaves and spices.

Steam cooking is not just extremely healthy but also by far the most convenient method of cooking. Coming back to the health benefits, steam cooking helps in keeping the nutrients like some of the vitamins and minerals intact, that are lost in traditional cooking. These minerals include phosphorus, calcium and zinc and vitamins comprise vitamin B, thiamine, niacin, and vitamin C. Since this cooking method skips oil or uses negligible oil, it prevents us from consuming added fats or saturated fats that are responsible for high cholesterol and blood pressure. 

Include Nuchinunde in your list of steam-cooked food. With a great savoury and spicy blend of taste, and health benefits, they have the potential to replace regular deep-fried snacks. Yoghurt dip greatly adds to the overall experience of the snack.

Here’s the recipe for Nuchinunde.

Preparation time: 3 hours 40 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Servings: 5-6 dumplings


  • 1 cup pigeon pea lentils (toor dal) 
  • ¼ cup chickpea lentils (chana dal) 
  • 2 tsp chopped green chillies 
  • 2 tsp grated ginger 
  • 1 cup chopped dill leaves
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves 
  • 2 tbsp chopped curry leaves  
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 2 tbsp grated coconut

For the dip:

  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds 
  • 1-2 green chillies 
  • 2 tbsp grated coconut 
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves 
  • ½ cup of curd
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida


  • Rinse the toor dal and chana dal thoroughly and soak them together for 2-3 hours.
  • After they have been soft, grind into a coarse paste and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Add green chillies, grated ginger, chopped dill, coriander, and curry leaves to the lentil paste.
  • Then add salt, grated coconut and asafoetida to it. 
  • Mix everything well to form a uniform paste.
  • Take small portions out of it and make cylindrical balls out of it.
  • Arrange these dumplings in a steamer and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Check if these dumplings are cooked by inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean, dumplings are cooked.
  • For preparing the dip, dry roast mustard and fenugreek seeds in a medium flame on a pan.
  • To this add coconut and green chillies.
  • Transfer these into a blending jar and grind without water into a fine mixture.
  • In another bowl take curd and add water to it and whisk it into a smooth mixture.
  • Add the finely powdered spices to the curd. Then add salt and asafoetida to it. Whisk everything well.
  • Serve the dumplings with the dip.