Dhaler Bora – Lentil Fritters

Dina Begum, author of the Brick Lane Cookbook has shared her recipe for these very moreish fritters!

See more of Dina’s recipes and cooking tips on her website, or by following her on Twitter or Instagram.

This recipe is based on my mother’s and is super addictive. Ground lentils are mixed with onions, green chillies, spices and fresh coriander to make a batter, which is dropped very quickly by hand into hot oil to make these irresistible fritters.

If you’re around Brick Lane during Ramadhan you’ll spot some of the Bangladeshi cafés with their shopfront windows opened up so you can look in on large pans of fritters being fried – a real treat to watch.

There’s something so comforting about the smell of frying onions and spices that I’m always hard pressed to avoid buying a brown paper bag full of dhaler bora and tucking into them straight away.

SERVES 4-6 • Vegan – Wheat Free – Gluten Free
  • 200g red split lentils, soaked 30 minutes
  • 2–3 green chillies, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, quartered and finely sliced
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
  • 4 heaped tablespoons gram flour
  • 3 tablespoons chopped coriander
  • 500ml vegetable oil, to deep fry
  1. Drain the lentils and coarsely grind them with the green chillies using a hand blender or food processor.
  2. Put the sliced onion into a bowl along with the salt and mix together thoroughly with your hand. Add the turmeric, cumin, chilli powder, gram flour and coriander and scrape in the ground lentil mix. Switch to a spoon and mix thoroughly to form a batter that is loose enough to drop off a spoon – if the mix is too thick, loosen it with a dash of water.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan over high heat. Once hot (test with a tiny bit of batter – if it sizzles and floats to the surface, the oil is hot enough), reduce the heat to medium and use your hand to carefully drop small golf ball sized portions into the oil, a dozen or so at a time. You can use a tablespoon instead of your hand if you aren’t feeling confident but you won’t get the distinct rounded shape.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and cook for six or seven minutes, turning regularly until the fritters are deep golden all over.
  5. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a dish lined with kitchen paper. Continue cooking in batches until the batter is finished. Serve immediately with some sliced red onions and chopped fresh chillies.

Cook’s tip – it’s important to keep an eye on the heat as you cook the dhaler bora. Turn heat up to medium-high as you drop the batter into the pan (the temperature drops once the batter falls in); then, once you have a full batch frying, turn the heat to low. This will help them become fully crispy.