Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kutchi Dabeli

Just under the wire, I'm sending in another entry to the CopyCat edition of the Blog Bites event hosted right here on One Hot Stove.

I wanted to bring a dish to a birthday party today and decided on a street food that I have not eaten in a while- Kutchi dabeli. This is a carb-lover's delight, a spicy mashed potato filling (along with assorted goodies like fried peanuts, tangy tamarind chutney, pomegranate seeds and bits of onion and cilantro) in an airy bread roll or pav.

For me, Kutchi dabeli will always be associated with trips to my aunt's home in a suburb of Pune. If I understand correctly, this snack originates in Gujarat (Kutch is the largest district in Gujarat) and can be found sold in street stalls wherever the Gujarati diaspora now resides. My aunt would bring home paper sacks stuffed with tasty dabeli that were a little too spicy for us kids, but we wolfed them down anyway, chasing the spice with large gulps of cool water.

Today, I decided to make it completely from scratch, which meant baking the pav, making dabeli masala, cooking and mashing potatoes, roasting and skinning raw peanuts, making tamarind chutney and so on. Go ahead and use store bought versions of any of these- I won't tell. The dish described below may or may not be authentic; it is simply my version of this street classic.

A. Pav. I tried Meera's recipe for laadi pav with incredible success. Check her post for proportions. I made smaller rolls- a feeble attempt at portion control.
1. In the food processor fitted with a dough blade, add the bread flour (I'm loyal to the King Arthur brand), salt, sugar, yeast, olive oil. Start processing and dribble warm water to make an elastic dough.
2. Oil the dough and let it rise for an hour.
3. Deflate the dough and divide it into 24 rolls (3 x 2 x 2 x 2).
4. Place rolls on baking sheets, cover and let them rise for an hour.
5. Bake at 400 F for 15-20 minutes.

Just look at these chubby little rolls! The texture and flavor was perfect. I'll be using these as mini burger buns in the coming months.

Next, for the dabeli, I used Tarla Dalal's recipe as noted by Ashwini of Food for Thought.

B. Dabeli Masala: you can buy this spice mix in stores but it is easy enough to make. There's a simple mnemonic to remember the formula for this masala: 5 Cs

Cinnamon, half stick
Cloves, 6-8
Chillies (dried red ones), 3-4
Cumin, 2 tsp.
Coriander, 2 tbsp.

Lightly roast everything together, then grind to a fine powder.

C. Fried peanuts: Heat 1-2 tsp. oil. Fry 1/2 cup toasted skinned peanuts in the oil until light brown, season with salt, black pepper and paprika.

D. Tamarind chutney: Recipe here. You need 1/4 cup or so.

E. Potato filling: Boil, peel and mash 3-4 large potatoes. Heat 2 tsp. oil and add 1 tsp. cumin seeds, pinch of asafetida and 1 tbsp. dabeli masala (or more to taste). Stir in the mashed potatoes and salt to taste, fry for a minute or two.

Cool the potato mixture, then add a handful of minced cilantro, 1/4 cup minced onion, and the fried peanuts and tamarind chutney previously made. Mix everything together. Now is the time to taste it and add more spice or salt or chutney as required to get the filling to be absolutely delectable.

F. We are almost there, hang on. To assemble the dabeli, cut each pav into half. Sandwich the halves with a generous amount of potato filling, pomegranate seeds (I use halved sweet grapes as a substitute when I can't find these) and sev (I skipped the sev because I had none on hand).

G. Finish line. Choose the biggest dabeli for yourself; you deserve it if you made it this far. Take a big bite and enjoy the medley of flavors from the warm spices, airy bread, sweet burst of grapes and the crunch of the peanuts. Nom nom nom.

My big tray of dabelis disappeared at the party. That's the proof of the pudding, as they say.

Entries for this event are being accepted for a few more hours; check back tomorrow evening for a tasty buffet of entries, and a chance to vote for your favorite post.


  1. Pav looks very yummy does Dabeli.

    I used eat it so many times in my college days. Love it yummyyyyyy.

  2. Looks super yummy Nupur. I love this street dish and make it every chance I get. Thanks for the masala recipe as I usually make it using store bought masala.

  3. My jaw just hit the floor.. you made everything from scratch!! The laadi pav looks just adorable :) I've tried Dabeli just once.. the peanuts and pomegranates make it very different from the other chaat items I've had.

  4. Kudos to you Nupur for doing this whole thing from scratch. Never had dabeli and this looks delicious.

  5. Aha, your post is now making me crave kutchi dabeli. It has been over many years since I last had it! and the laadli paav looks great; its tempting me to try paav baking at home now (which is saying something as the likelihood of my success in baked breads is always low :D)

  6. Yummy only if I could grab it off the blog:)

  7. Oh my goodness... :) Nupur, I've survived on Dabelis in Pondicherry. Whenever we went into town for anything at all, we stopped by Hot Bakers for Doughnuts and at this small place on Quai D'Ambour for Dabelis. And needless to say, we skipped dinner. I have to make this at home.

    And the pavs look awesome.

  8. Fiesta! Yum, yum, yum!

    NOM, NOM, NOM!

  9. Home made pav and masalas, this has to taste amazing. Just drooling over the pictures..

  10. Even though @ Parla there are loads of Gujjus, Dabeli was not a common snack but from the time I've shifted here in Pune it is most fav evening snack.

    Never tried @ home, may be cos get it just below our home, but your post has inspired me to try once, btw i think we can also get dabeli masala @ sabzi mandi rt ?

  11. Dabeli is one of my favorite chat items, always have on my trip from Pune to Bombay, i love those chubby ladi pav!

  12. Wow! Everything from scratch!!!

    I don't like dabeli because it's sweetish but I just figured I could follow your recipe and delete the sugar everywhere.

  13. wow Nupur. that's incredible. never had Dabeli but these look super tasty.

  14. i encountered my first kacchi dabeli on 17th december 1994. It was my cousins birthday and kacchi dabeli was relatively new in Pune..i was full in one serving..(was a kid at that time)

    Kacchi dabeli later became a staple street food (after vada pav) mainly because it had all the ingredients of vada pav (pav and batata), pav bhaji(stripped down batata bhaji) and bhel (shev, chinch, hirvi chatny) sort of 3-in-1 combo..

    I love it. :)

  15. Dabelis look perfect & delicious. It has been so long I have almost forgotten how they should taste! Will try this version.
    Had to miss the event this time but I will wait for the next announcement :)

  16. that looks delicious. If possible, could you please post witloof soup recipe. I have tried it couple of times but no sucess so far.......For me its the most challenging vegetable to deal with. Thank you for such a nice blog.......

    Best regards,

  17. Hi
    Yum yum..I have also had a version of this with the stuffing made from boiled peanuts and potatoes..I was just wondering..when you assembled it for the party..didn't it get soggy because of the chutney?
    Thanks for haring the recipe.

  18. chaklere- Yes, street food and college days seem to go hand in hand :)

    Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal- Oh yes, I've seen dabeli masala in the stores too, and I bet it is great. I just didn't want to run out and buy it when I had all the ingredients in my pantry.

    Inji- I agree, the peanuts and pomegranates add a special texture and taste.

    Red Chillies- Well, doing from scratch was out of pure laziness, not wanting to go hit the stores for various things ;) but it worked out.

    PJ- It has been decades since I tasted store bought dabeli too, but I remember the taste very well. Please do try Meera's pav recipe at home; it is easy and really fool-proof.

    Anjali- I am waiting patiently for blogger to put in that feature, where we can just lift food off the screen.

    Raaga- Ooh, Pondicherry is one place I have always wanted to visit. Hearing your memories of great food makes me want to go there even more :)

    musical- My sentiments exactly! :D

    Madhu- It tasted pretty good!

    Kanchan- Yeah, what is it with Pune and dabeli? Yes, dabeli masala is easily available in stores.

    Parita- Thanks!

    Simran- I love it precisely because it is sweetish :)

    sayantani- It is a tasty snack, for sure!

    Harshad Joshi- Wow, you remember the exact date? Incredible, that dabeli made quite an impression on you :)
    I love the way you describe it as a 3-in-1 deal.

    bhagyashri- The next announcement is coming up in a couple of days and I sure hope you will participate!

    ruchita- I had never heard of witloof before but did a web search and I guess it is the same vegetable that I know as Belgian endive, right? I'm not very familiar with it either, but know that it is generally used for salad and to scoop up dips with. I did spot this soup recipe:

    Krishna- No, actually, the dabelis were sitting around for 3 hours or so, and they did not get soggy in the least. I think it was because the chutney was thick to begin with and the filling was moist but not soggy by any means. So I would say, as long as you use thick chutney you should be fine.

  19. Those little rolls got my attention right away! The filling is new to me, and I look forward to trying it.

  20. Hi Nupur,
    I tried numerous times to email you through your 'contact' link without success...the 'word verification' was not accepted even though it was repeatedly typed correctly.
    My question is...
    Cinnamon sticks are available in many sizes here...when a recipe calls for them without quoting a size, what would be the 'normal' length to use?
    Thanks kindly, Barbara

  21. *a* birthday party?? :D
    way to keep it on the low, girl!
    much love from NYC - hope you're having a great one - I'm gonna make some dabeli in your honor!!


  22. What a delicious presentation and the pavs are so very tempting. Your kitchen must have had a heady aroma. Did neighbor's find an obscure reason visit you? I love the name more than anything else and I am sure the taste is sure to top it all. I have never tasted the dish though. I have been meaning to pavs again and this will be the reason.

    Did you watch Food, Inc?

  23. Nupur,

    Great recipe! I am going to try it. Also, I tasted Katachi Amti, which was made with roasted onion and coconut. It was very spicy and if I remember correctly made Khandeshi style. Would you have a recipe for that amti? Thanks! Shriya

  24. Love the rolls and everything looked so delicious once assembled. Love to help myself to one.thanks

  25. This looks yummy can't wait to try it out

  26. I love dabeli and yours look just perfect.

  27. Nupur these look so good. In my first attempt, I will just make the Dabeli masala and the potato filling.

    Also your tam chutney has been in my TBD for a while now

  28. Happy Birthday To My Favourite Food Blogger aka Nupurdi!!!Many Many happy returns of the day!!
    The Kutchi Dabeli looks great!Can't wait to try them soon!!

  29. Pav looks incredibly delicious! and the the kutchi dabeli is mouth watering..

  30. Oh I love kutchi dabeli! My Maharashtrian friends introduced me to this dish and I love it! I think I would be content in life if I could just survive on street food.

    PS: Misal is still my most favorite dish! And of course, I used your recipe as a base :)

  31. gosh Nupur,your dhabeli has me drooling this afternoon. Pav buns have come out so perfect , for some reason I am never able to bake bread, your recipe gives me hope to give it a try.

  32. wht can be more delicious thn this

  33. Tanmaya Kulkarni- Yes, but I did not grow the wheat or potatoes ;)

    Lydia- The little rolls are very versatile; I'll be making them often.

    Barbara- Sorry about the comment form; it is temperamental! To me, the normal length of a cinnamon stick is 2.5 inches, but speaking for my own recipes, the amount of cinnamon is quite flexible so use whatever length cinnamon you have on hand.

    Lukasz- No, no this was indeed a birthday for someone else, the child of friends of ours :) I did not have a big birthday bash but did enjoy a lovely lunch with friends!

    indosungod- Oh my neighbor drops in to dinner on an almost daily basis! Do try this recipe, I think you will enjoy it.
    I did not watch Food Inc. in its entirety. To me, it is a little bit like preaching to the choir because I do try and practice good food methods, so to speak, on a daily basis. Plus some of the images would have given me nightmares for sure, I am a wimp. V did watch the whole movie, and I am glad because he can now see where I am coming from.

    Shriya- I don't know about Khandeshi style at all, but I do like katachi amti the way we made it in Western Maharashtra. I'll try and find a good recipe and post it in the coming weeks.

    starry- Thanks!

    Piya- I hope you enjoy it.

    Rajee- Thanks!

    Bong Mom- They are pretty darn addictive too ;)

    raat-jaga-tara- Thank you, what a nice thing to say!!

    myspicykitchen- Thanks!

    Sharan- I agree, I could live on street food forever too :)

    Sreelu- Meera's recipe is a very good one and really easy, do give it a try!

    notyet100- I don't know :)

  34. Nupur Pav picture is tempting me to bake some for myself! Mumbai street vendors offer butter dabelis in which they roast the pav in amul salted butter slightly prior to filling it. (Chk Meera's post on Kutchi Dabeli which inspired me to make some few weeks ago..result was amazing! Even TD's Dab. masala proportions were enough for the entire recipe.) I truly enjoyed reading your style-ABCDEFG! Truly drooly pics! Tks again!

  35. last time I made pav, it was a diaster- I got burnt stones out of the oven...but I am craving for these dabeli...will make it this weekend and let you know how it comes out!

  36. Lovely dabeli's... i love them as well... great effort in making them from scratch

  37. Wat is bread flour, n can u please shatr the measurements for laadi paav

  38. Hi Nupur,
    I tried making the buns 2 times now. The taste is really good, but they get burnt from the bottom. I tried baking tray and corningware containers, but both same results. Any tips?

    Thanks in advance.


    1. Meghana- that is probably a quirk of your oven- some ovens have uneven heating. Try changing the position of the oven rack maybe? Also try turning down the oven temperature by 25 degrees and baking for longer if necessary. Good luck!!

  39. Thanks Nupur, I will try your additional tips.

  40. Hey Nupur,

    I lowered the temperature of the oven and that gave much better results. The entire family was raving about the buns. Next time I will go even more lower to produce buns like your pictures.

    Thanks once again.



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