Bara is a much loved snack in many homes and is an Indian fritter made from ground split pea lentils, chillies and spices. Bara has a crunchy texture with a moist centre and a delicious aroma of spices. In India it is commonly called Dhal Vada, but in Fiji it has evolved to a similar sounding word to vada, ‘bara’. In many Fijian homes, it is common for the family to have an afternoon snack with their tea and bara is one of the go-to snacks.
Prior to making bara, the lentils (dhal) needs to be soaked for 2 hours. Any less than 2 hours and the dhal will not grind to a paste. Any more than 2 hours and the dhal will soak up a lot more oil when deep frying. It is also important make sure the oil is hot before frying the bara or it will also soak up massive amounts of oil (you can do this by placing a wooden spoon into the oil – if bubbles form, the oil is hot and ready to go).
- 2 Cups Moong Dhal
- 1 Inch Piece Ginger
- 4 Cloves Garlic
- 10-12 Curry Leaves – Chopped
- 1 Large Onion – Finely Diced
- 2-3 Large Red Chillies or To Taste – Sliced
- 1 Tsp Chilli Powder (Optional)
- 1/4 Tsp Hing (Asafoetida)
- 1 Tsp Saunf (Fennel Seeds) – Optional
- Salt – To Taste
- Oil -To Deep Fry
- Soak the dhal for a minimum of 2 hours prior to making the bara so that it becomes soft. Once soaked, wash the grains and drain the water. Blend to a coarse paste in the wet mill attachment of the blender along with ginger and garlic cloves (add water in small amounts if the dhal is not processing as desired)
- Transfer the grainy paste to a bowl and add the curry leaves, onions, chillies, chilli powder, hing (asafoetida), fennel seeds (saunf) and salt. Mix them together with your hands and set aside (Note: The hing regulates the effects of gas formation in the dhal – it is an optional ingredient)
- Heat oil in a deep pan or a deep fryer till it is hot (Note: If the oil is not hot enough, the bara will soak up lots of oil)
- With wet hands, create flat disc like patties and gently place into the oil making sure that the fryer is not over crowded
- Use a wooden spoon to turn the bara in the oil (metal spoons get hot quickly) and cook on medium heat till golden brown
- Drain the excess oil on paper towels and serve hot with tamarind chutney and tea.