Punugulu or lentil Fritters are a common street food in Andhra Pradesh. They are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. It is a favourite deep fried snack for children and the aged as it is soft and not spicy. It is made of urad dal or split black lentil and rice batter usually. I have grown up on these punugulu and can never have enough of them. As they are ubiquitous I make them at home very rarely. They are sold along with spicy chilli fritters; if punugulu are bland the chilli fritters are fiery hot.
Most local homes in Andhra make them with leftover idli/ dosa batter that fermented batter while others make them with fresh batter. The other day a friend called to say she was dropping by and I being single didn’t have anything much in the pantry to serve. I went into the kitchen and my eyes fell on the split black gram I had soaked for idlis in the morning. I hadn’t soaked any rice yet and I went ahead and quickly ground the soaked dal with two green chilis in the mixer and fried these divine golden balls.
The recipe for preparing the batter is quite flexible but the consistency should be thick enough to drop in hot oil and it has to retain its shape. Punugulu can be made with urad dal batter or idli/dosa batter or even with moong batter. You can make them with fresh batter or the fermented one; depends on individual choice What you add to the batter is also your choice, you can just make them plain with just a pinch of salt or add chopped green chillies, onions, cumin seeds and coriander leaves like I did.
Recipe for Punugulu or Lentil Fritters
1 cup urad dal soaked
Salt to taste
Oil to deep fry as needed
2 green chillies
1 large onion (finely chopped)
½ tsp cumin
Fresh coriander leaves
¼ tsp red chilli powder
Wash urad dal a few times till the water looks clear. Soak it for at least 4 hrs. Wash urad dal a few times till the water looks clear. Soak it for at least 4 hrs.
Grind dal to a smooth batter with just enough water so that it is thick and of dropping consistency. I added the green chilli while blending itself. Transfer the batter to a bowl and add salt. If your batter is thin then don’t panic as you can add a spoon or two of regular Maida or all purpose flour.
Beat the batter with your fingers for a few minutes as this would make your Punugulu turn out softer and fluffier. Add the cumin, finely chopped onion and coriander leaves and red chilli powder and mix nicely with your hand. Now adjust the consistency, if required, you may add a little water or go ahead if the consistency is right. Heat oil to hot, adjust the flame to medium high, it must not be too low and not too high.
Heat the oil. Once the oil is hot wet your fingers and drop the batter into small balls in the hot oil.
Fry the balls till they are golden in colour and drain on paper towels.
Serve them piping hot with your favourite chutney.
As I was caught unawares I didn’t have any chutney ready. I didn’t want to serve the delicious punugulu with ketchup. I took a little tomato pickle and added it to two tablespoons of fresh yoghurt and I had a great dip ready. Try it, it’s great!
My friend doesn’t relish fried food much and I gingerly served her four of them. She polished them off the Punugulu or Lentil Fritters in a minute and asked for a second helping and a third!
Cooking for family and friends is not a chore but a real pleasure. For me, it is a way to show family and friends that I care about them. I connect to food through memories of my family dinners. I have all my memories of childhood and revisit them by cooking a dish my mom would cook. I totally believe in the old saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and I am sure I made a place in my late husband’s heart and my son’s through my cooking.
If you like this Recipe for Punugulu or Lentil Fritters do try it out and share the pictures.