July 23, 2013

The quintessential Cuttacki fare - Dahi Vada Aloo Dum aau Guguni Chaat aka "Dahi Bara Aloo Dum"

The name itself conjures up thousands of memories and for anyone who’s ever
been to Cuttack or hails from the same, needs no intro to this legendary street food – Dahi Bara Aloo Dum and Guguni, mostly known as “Dahi Bara Aloo Dum”. But for the uninitiated, this lip-smacking street food is the combination of Dahi Vada topped with aloo dum and guguni (yellow peas curry), served generously garnished with cut onions, coriander leaves and sev. The savory tartness of the dahi vada perfectly complements the spicy aloo dum and guguni and all of it wonderfully comes together with the crunchiness of the onions and the sev. It’s truly a wonder how all three distinctly different dishes with strong flavor character of their own can meld together in this unique, indescribable way.

But despite its iconic status within the state, it’s a pity that outside Odisha hardly many people know about it. In my past one year of blogging, I must admit that I have never shared anything as authentic and true to Cuttack than this. Every nook and corner of Cuttack beams with a Dahi Bara (a short name for the trio) vendor these days and despite the growing fervor for “westernized” fast food, I can very gladly say that little has changed as far as its popularity goes. Quite aptly put, it’s the “Vada Pav” of Cuttack in the nature of which it has its way into people’s hearts and their everyday lives. I have known people eating this street food for all three meals for several days together. But unlike the Pav Bhaji or the Vada Pav, it really hasn’t received the limelight it rightly deserves. But I am sure....absolutely sure that all this needs is a little bit of promotion and there’s no doubt it can stand tall or even exceed many iconic street foods in their lovability quotient.

Now, having grown up in Cuttack, my love for this street delicacy has been truly innate and absolutely justifiable. For me, it represents festivity and all such happy times when as kids we would savor every bite of the street food we were occasionally allowed to eat. It conjures up memories of joyous occasions and brings back cheerful childhood memories of springing towards the gate as soon as the vendor rang his cycle bell and drummed the container to attract attention. It was difficult to contain the excitement of holding the “thola” (the container made leaves) in our hands. Yes, sometimes managing the thola in our tiny hands did get difficult, but that never discouraged us from gulping it all down and not to forget the last desperate plea for some more dahi paani (“tike dahi debe bhaina”) or some crunchy seu.

So just like every other delicacy we have loved, my Ma has tried her hand many a times at making this dish and well, after a few failures got it right for us. Now with my Ma around I had the privilege and the luxury of her teaching me this iconic, street food. We had a total blast making this and yes a memorable time eating it too. I am sure this is going to be made on many such occasions when I feel the need to go back to Cuttack in an instant. My own quick time travel you see :) 

(Clockwise from the left) Guguni, Dahi Bara, Aloo Dum, Plate of chopped onions, cilantro and sev and the final "Dahi Bara Aloo Dum" plate. 

  Dahi Vada (Dahi Bara)

Dahi Bara (Dahi Vada)
Savory and tangy fried lentil donuts soaked in a thin yogurt base forms the heart of this street food. Light and fluffy, it forms the perfect neutral base the to complement the spicy additions.

(Makes ~ 12 medium sized vadas)

1 C Whole Urad Dal
¾ C Rice flour
1 tsp baking soda
Oil for frying

For the dahi
½ C Yogurt
¼ C Water
Salt to taste
Black salt to taste.
Cumin and red chili powder (Optional)

For the tempering
1 T Oil
½ tsp Mustard seeds
2 nos. Dry red chillies.

1. Soak the whole urad dal overnight in luke warm water (6-8 hrs).
2. After the dal is perfectly soaked (it will feel light and puffed up), grind to a smooth batter. Keep it aside for ~4-5 hrs for fermentation in a dark, warm place.
3. The batter rises up and the surface has many small bubbles. Now slowly mix in the rice flour and baking soda. Keep it aside overnight.
4. For the dahi: In a small vessel,thin out the dahi with some water. Add salt to taste, black salt and jeera powder.
5. Heat up the oil. Wet your palms and make a donut shaped batter. Slowly slide the donut shaped batter into the oil. Fry till golden brown.
6. In another bowl, add some salt to iced water and keep aside.
7. Soak the fried vadas in the salted water till soft and fully soaked.
8. After the vada becomes soft, gently squeeze out the water and place it in the dahi.
9. For the tadka: Add oil into a pan, splatter some mustard seeds, curry leaves and dry red chillies. Then, pour the tadka on the dahi vada.

Guguni and Aloo Dum

Guguni (Left) and Aloo Dum (Right)

Aloo dum
Spiced potatoes in a thick tomato gravy provides the necessary spice for this chaat. Can also be eaten by itself with poori or even with rotis.

½ lb Small potatoes (Regular sized potatoes will also work)
2 T Oil
¼ tsp Turmeric powder
½ C Onion and ginger garlic paste
½ C Tomato puree
¼ tsp Red Chilli powder
1 tsp Curry powder
¼ tsp Garam Masala powder
¼ tsp Sugar
1 C Water
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro leaves to garnish.

1. Boil potatoes. Peel and keep aside.
2. In a separate pan over medium heat, lightly sauté the boiled potatoes with salt and turmeric powder. Take it out of the pan and keep aside.
3. In the same pan, add the onion, ginger and garlic paste to oil. Add in salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder.
4. Then, add in tomato puree little at a time and sauté the masala till the oil floats.
5. Now add in curry powder, sugar, garam masala powder and the potatoes. Add in the water and bring it to a boil till oil separates. When oil floats at the top, it is done.
6. Sprinkle chopped coriander and keep aside.

Spiced yellow peas curry is the necessary add on to this dish. This also can be eaten just by itself along with rotis or pooris.

¼ lb Yellow peas
2 T Oil
¼ tsp Turmeric powder
½ C Onion and ginger garlic paste
½ C Tomato puree
¼ tsp Red Chilli powder
1 tsp Sambhar powder
¼ tsp Garam Masala powder
¼ tsp Sugar
2 C Water
Salt to taste

1. Soak the yellow peas overnight in lukewarm water.
2. Boil the soaked peas in a pressure cooker with a pinch of salt and turmeric powder. Take it off the stove after a whistle from the pressure cooker.
3. In a separate pan over medium heat, add in the onion, ginger and garlic paste to the heated oil. Mix in salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder.
4. Then, add in tomato puree little at a time and sauté the masala till the oil floats.
5. Now add in sambhar powder, sugar, garam masala powder and the boiled yellow peas. Add in the water and bring it to a boil till oil separates. When oil floats at the top, it is done.

For the garnish
Chopped Onions
Chopped Cilantro
Chopped Mint (Optional)

Assembling the Dahi Bara Aloo Dum and Guguni.

In a bowl, place 2-3 dahi vadas and a little bit of dahi. Then scoop in some aloo dum and guguni. Then add in some more dahi and sprinkle some black salt and cumin red chilli powder. Garnish the dish with cut onions, coriander leaves and sev. Now dig into it and savor every bite!

Like they say, there's nothing more effective than food and music to conjure up happy memories of time well spent. 

Here's to more such happy times!

I am submitting this recipe to:
- "Monsoon temptations" hosted by Manasi
- "Walk through memory lane" hosted by Manju and Gayatri
- "Chaat and Chutneys" hosted by Cooks Joy
- "Diwali Bash-2013" hosted by Vardhini from Cook's joy
- "Anniversary Celebrations" by Cook,Click and Devour
- "Let's Cook with yoghurt" hosted by Nayna
Monsoon Temptations - Food Blog EventChaat and Chutneys


  1. This is drool worthy recipe. never had it in this combination but am loving every bit of it. not a big fan of dahi vada but the addition of alu dum makes it finger licking.

    1. Hi Sayantani..Thanks for your compliments :) This is a traditional street food of Cuttack and has been around for a long time..I am sure you would love this too!

  2. Hi Jagruti..i jst luv dis dish..will definitely try it at home..but is the rice flour that u mentioned "chaula chunnaa" or "chaula sooji"?

    1. Hi Reela..Thanks! :) Am glad you liked it. The rice flour mentioned here is chaula gunda/ fine rice flour

  3. Your meanu looks so good, feels I tasted everything.. Thanks for linking this to my event.

  4. I love the recipes you're creating.

  5. Drooling over the chaats. Delicious and thx for linking.

    Event: Chaat & Chutneys + GIVEAWAY

  6. Wow Jagruti seems like u have become a perfect cook!.. thanks for sharing such lovely recipe i had bin craving since long...

  7. This brought back memories of my trip to Bhubaneshwar where I had it for the first and only time and it was sold by a vendor who went around in a cycle and he had the pots tied to his cycle. Am definitely trying this out some day.


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