It is no secret that I adore Gujarati cuisine, the beautiful balance of mild heat, slight sweetness and perfect tartness that it manages to achieve. Dabeli ranks right up there in my list of most favourite dishes from the Gujarati cuisine. Today, I am going to share with you all the recipe for Gujarati Dabeli, the way I make it.
What is Dabeli?
Dabeli is a sort of sandwich, if I may, with an absolutely delicious potato filling in between a ladi pav or bun. The filling, when made right, bursts with flavours, making the Dabeli a veritable treat to the tastebuds.
It is believed to have been invented by a certain Keshavji Gabha Chudasama of Mandvi in Kutch, Gujarat, in the 1960s. The Dabeli quickly became popular and, today, it is a famous street food that is available everywhere in Gujarat. Dabeli from Kutch – called Kutchi Dabeli – still manages to retain pride of place in the Indian culinary world. I grew up eating wonderfully delicious Dabeli off the streets of Ahmedabad.
There are many different components of Dabeli, which can be prepared well in advance. Once you have these components prepped and ready, assembling the Dabeli is a very simple affair.
The components of Dabeli
– A good Dabeli must have a very flavourful potato filling, as I was saying earlier. Traditionally, a freshly ground spice mix called Dabeli Masala is used in the filling – made using spices like coriander seeds, cinnamon, cumin and fennel, this masala is honestly the soul of the dish that makes all the difference to it. However, I have found that a mix of garam masala, chaat masala and amchoor powder works just as beautifully. If you want the real deal, make the Dabeli Masala at home (I’ll share the recipe shortly) or buy a brand like Badshah or a small home-grown one like Chandubhai Bhanushali online.
– Soft ladi pav or buns constitute the outer covering of the Dabeli, the shell within which the potato filling is contained. Small-sized buns with a sweetish tinge to them are ideal, however don’t choose ones with tutti frutti, dried fruit or nuts in them. Slices of bread work in a pinch too, but using buns or pav is highly recommended.
– Pomegranate seeds are absolutely crucial in Dabeli – for me, Dabeli cannot be Dabeli without them. The beautiful pink pearls not only add visual appeal to the dish, but also provide a crunch factor and elevate it by several notches with their sweet-sour taste.
– Masala peanuts are another thing without which I simply cannot imagine Dabeli. To make masala peanuts, roast raw peanuts in some oil till crisp, then toss with salt and red chilli powder. Congress Kadlekai, widely available in shops in Bangalore, works just as well.
– There are three different types of chutneys that go into a typical Dabeli – 1. a spicy green chutney made using mint, coriander and green chillies, 2. a sweet chutney made using dates and tamarind, and 3. a pungent red chutney made using garlic. I do away with the red chutney altogether, as I use a generous amount of garlic in my green chutney itself. Also, I make my sweet chutney using tamarind and jaggery, minus the dates.
– Fresh coriander, finely chopped onion and fine sev or omapodi (preferably the very thin variety that is also referred to as ‘nylon sev‘) are important toppings in a Dabeli. Try looking for the Garden brand of nylon sev – available in a few stores in Bangalore and online too, this is very fine sev that’s really brilliant in something like Dabeli.
– I have seen coconut being used in Dabeli, either freshly grated or the dried, powdered version. I often do away with the coconut entirely.
– Last, but not the least, good-quality salted butter is crucial, to toast the pav or buns used in making Dabeli. You may use a bit of oil instead too, but butter is what is really recommended. I use Amul or Akshayakalpa butter.
Gujarati Dabeli recipe
As you can see above, I have substituted a few ingredients traditionally used in Dabeli with different ones, to make my life easier. Hence, I do not insist that mine is a completely authentic recipe for Dabeli. However, I can definitely assure you that it tastes fabulous and is very, very close to the real deal from Gujarat.
Here is how I make the Dabeli.
Ingredients (for 6 dabeli):
For the filling:
1. 4 medium-sized potatoes (boiled, peeled and mashed)
2. 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds
3. 1/2 tablespoon oil
4. 1/2 teaspoon cumin (jeera)
5. Salt to taste
6. 3/4 teaspoon of garam masala
7. 1 teaspoon of amchoor powder
8. 1 teaspoon of chaat masala
9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
10. Red chilli powder to taste
11. 2 tablespoons of sweet chutney or as needed
12. 2-3 tablespoons of masala peanuts or Congress kadlekai
13. 1 small onion, finely chopped
14. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
For garnishing and serving:
1. Finely chopped onion, as required
2. Masala peanuts or Congress kadlekai, as required
3. Finely chopped coriander, as required
4. Pomegranate arils, as required
5. Sweet chutney, as required
6. Spicy green chutney, as required
7. Fine sev, as required
8. 6 ladi pav or small buns
9. Oil or butter, as needed to toast the pav or buns
1. We will start by preparing the filling for the Dabeli. Wash the potatoes clean, ensuring that no mud remains on them. Then cut all the potatoes into halves and place in a wide vessel. Add in enough water to cover the potatoes fully. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker and allow 4 whistles on a high flame. Let the pressure release naturally.
2. Once the pressure from the cooker goes down completely, get the cooked potatoes out. Drain out all the water from them – you may reserve this water for later use. Allow the cooked potatoes to cool down completely, then mash them.
3. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the cumin seeds and let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
4. Turn the flame down to low, and add in the mashed potatoes. Add salt and red chilli powder to taste, turmeric powder, garam masala, chaat masala and amchoor powder. Mix well. Cook for a minute.
5. Now, add 2 tablespoons of sweet chutney to the pan or as needed. Still keeping the flame low, mix well. Then switch off gas. Let the mixture cool down to room temperature.
6. At this stage, add the finely chopped onion to the pan, along with the pomegranate seeds, masala peanuts and finely chopped coriander (as mentioned in the ingredients list above under ‘For the filling’). Mix everything well together, but gently. The potato filling for making the Dabeli is ready.
7. Now, we will start assembling the Dabeli. Toast the ladi pav or buns using some butter – if using buns, cut them into two from the middle, horizontally.
8. Spread a generous amount of the potato filling on the bottom part of one of the toasted pav/buns. Place some chopped onion, coriander, masala peanuts and pomegranate arils on top of the filling. Drizzle some spicy green chutney and sweet chutney on top of this. Close using the other half of the pav/bun. The Dabeli is ready. Serve immediately.
9. Use all the potato filling and pav/buns to prepare Dabeli in a similar manner.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!