Sunday, June 1, 2014

Recipe of the month: Dabeli

Dabeli is a very popular street food snack which originated in the Kutch region of Gujarat. It is also called as Kutchi Dabeli or Kachchhi Dabeli. It is popular throughout Gujarat, Maharashtra, parts of Rajasthan and several metropolitan cities across India. Basically, dabeli is a spiced potato & pomegranate sandwich.

I am obsessed with potatoes so if I come across any recipe that makes use potatoes, it immediately catches my attention! 

Now this is a recipe I never thought would feature on my blog. Why, you ask? Well, considering I had only a foggy idea of what dabeli was and had never even tasted it before, it seemed an unlikely recipe candidate. This recipe was suggested to me by my sister-in-law who is somewhat of a culinary goddess in our circles 😊 As soon as she mentioned dabeli, it did ring a bell somewhere. I envisioned something that looked like vada pav (Indian burger) but I wasn't quite sure. A quick search on google made the picture did indeed look like a fancy, decked-up vada pav. She asked me if we get the ready-made spiced powder (called dabeli masala) in Singapore. I had no idea since until then, I had never gone looking for such an ingredient.

After a few days of that conversation, I was shopping in Mustafa in Little India and I happened to pass by an aisle of masala powders. I wasn't particularly paying any attention to it but something caught my eye. I stopped and did a double take. Sitting prettily on the shelf was a clearly labelled packet of dabeli masala. Even though at that point in time I had not done any recipe search for dabeli and neither did I have any immediate plans of trying it out at home, I picked up the dabeli masala. I made sure to buy a pomegranate and two packets of pav (Indian version of burger buns). I ardently hoped that I would have the rest of the ingredients at home (which I did....thank goodness for that!). 

Here is the recipe which I have adapted from a cookbook. I must admit I took a few short cuts by using ready made dabeli masala and date-tamarind chutney. But I have provided the recipe for both these two items in case you would like to prepare it yourself. After I prepared the potato filling, the green mint chutney, the spicy chilli garlic chutney, slightly diluted the store bought date-tamarind chutney, roasted the pav until golden and arranged the garnish ingredients in bowls, I started carefully assembling the sandwiches. Me and hubby thoroughly enjoyed the delicious dabeli with its balanced flavour profile and interesting textural elements. The soft buns with the spiced potato filling smothered in a medley of sweet tangy, spicy minty and fiery garlic sauces, garnished with crunchy peanuts, sev and finally the juicy sweet bursts from the pomegranate seeds....what can I say except it is a raging party in your mouth!

If this dish is new to you, I would recommend making it as a snack on a rainy day with a steaming cup of masala chai or even as a main course for a pot-luck party, especially if it is chaat-based theme. It will be a guaranteed hit!

I dedicate this post to my sister-in-law Reshma. I hope this post inspires you to try it just as it inspired me 😊


Prep Time: 45 min; Cooking Time: 25 min; Total time: ~70 min
Makes: 12 sandwiches; Serves: 4
Recipe type: Snack
Recipe level: Moderately Easy
Recipe Source: Adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries


For the Dabeli Masala:
4 cloves 
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
4-5 dry red chilies, stems removed
4 blades of mace or ¼ tsp ground mace, Optional
1 whole star anise
1-2 dried bay leaves
1-2 black cardamom pods, use only the seeds
½ tsp ground ginger 
pinch of turmeric powder

For the Potato Filling:
3 large potatoes (preferably Russet or Yukon Gold), peeled, boiled and mashed
1/2 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
a pinch of asafoetida/hing
1 small red onion, finely chopped 
1 tbsp dabeli masala
2 tbsp date-tamarind chutney (see ahead for recipe)
½ tbsp oil
Salt to taste

For the Date-Tamarind Chutney:
1 lemon sized tamarind pulp, soaked in water
6-8 dates, pitted
½ tsp red chilli powder
4-6 tbsp jaggery (adjust acc to taste)
Salt to taste

For the Green Mint Chutney:
1 packed cup fresh mint leaves
½ packed cup fresh coriander leaves
4-6 green chillies (adjust acc to taste)
½ tsp jeera/cumin seeds
1-2 tsp jaggery (or you could use sugar)
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste

For the Spicy Chilli Garlic Chutney:
4-5 dry red chilies (I used badige chillies) – soaked in warm water for 30 min
2-3 garlic pods, chopped
 ½ tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste

For assembling the Dabeli:
12 ladi pav/mini burger buns
Unsalted butter for spreading on the buns
1 large red onion, finely chopped
Seeds from 1 medium-sized pomegranate
½ cup plain or spicy roasted peanuts (I used the plain variety)
½ cup sev
1-2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped


For the Dabeli Masala (makes about 2 tbsp of dabeli masala):
Dry roast the ingredients (except the ground ginger and turmeric powder) for a few min on low heat until aromatic. Take utmost care not to burn them. Place all the ingredients in a spice blender or coffee grinder and grind to fine powder. Store it in an airtight container till needed. Note that the shelf life is about 2 months.

I mentioned earlier that I used store-bought dabeli masala. It looked like this...

For the Potato Filling:
1. Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. Wait for it to sizzle.

2. Add the finely chopped onion. Sauté it on medium heat till onions turn translucent, about 2-3 mins.

3. Add the asafoetida and fry for a min.

4. Add in the mashed potatoes, dabeli masala, date-tamarind chutney and salt. Stir until all the ingredients come together.

5. Keep this potato mixture aside.

For the Date-Tamarind Chutney:
Grind all ingredients listed to very smooth paste adding very little water at time. This paste should be slightly thick and not watery.

This is a picture of the store-bought date and tamarind chutney which I slightly diluted. Just keep this as a visual reference if you are making your own at home.

For Green Mint Chutney:
Grind all the ingredients listed to smooth paste adding very little water at time. Adjust the number of green chilies according to taste. Take care not to make the chutney too watery.

For the Spicy Chilli Garlic Chutney:
Soak the red chilies in warm water for 30 min. In a wet grinder, add the soaked red chilies, garlic, lemon juice and grind to a smooth thick paste adding water if required. Keep this red garlic chutney aside.

To assemble the Dabeli:
1. Heat a griddle or skillet over a medium heat. Cut the ladi-pav or sandwich bun in half and apply a little butter on the cut sides. Place this bun, buttered side down, on a skillet and cook until they are golden brown, 1-2 mins. Remove the bunds from griddle and keep aside.

2. To make the sandwich, first arrange all the items required for assembling.

3. First spread some butter on the inner surfaces of the buns

4. Then spread a tsp each of the date-tamarind chutney and the spicy chilli garlic chutney on each side of the bun. You can adjust the quantity chutneys depending on your liking.

5. Next, place 1/6th of the spiced potato mixture. You can make a medium lime sized potato ball, flatten it a bit with your palm and place it on the bun.

6. Add a few dollops of green mint chutney, sprinkle a tbsp of juicy pomegranate seeds, followed by a tbsp of roasted peanuts, ½ tbsp finely chopped red onion and a tbsp of sev.

7. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves on top, cover it with the other half of bun and press down slightly.

8. Enjoy!

  • If you notice that you don't have a few ingredients in the dabeli masala spice powder, you can skip them. The important ones are cumin seeds, coriander seeds, dry red chillies, cloves and cardamom
  • If you don't find dabeli masala in the stores and don't feel inspired to make it at home, you can use pav bhaji masala as a replacement
  • If you don't like to use raw onions for garnish, you can skip it
  • Dabeli Masala stays best when refrigerated, in an airtight jar



  1. Stumbled upon your blog through reshma. She Is a good friend of mine. Enjoyed reading every bit.

  2. Thank you Vasudha. Good to make your acquaintance :)

  3. Looks soo yummy and authentic. Now I have to poke my gujju wife to not take shortcuts and make me one :D

  4. Looks very yummy. Nangu beku :)


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