Mitha (sweet) Dhai wara / dahi wara – an exceptional delicacy and perfect tea time treat! For those of you who don’t know what these crispy but soft pastry-like concoctions are, let me introduce you to each other. Dhai wara is essentially a dough made with yogurt that is fried and then coated in a saffron-y and cardamom-y sugar syrup called chaansni! Sounds delicious already, right? These little pastries are so moreish that you won’t be able to stop yourself from grabbing another one!
P.S. these Dhai wara are not to be mistaken with the savoury North Indian dish of Dahi Vada / Dahi Bhalle – even though both are equally delicious!
Dhai wara basically means ‘of yogurt’, plurally. There are many variations of mitha dhai wara. This recipe is my grandmother’s, which has finally been tuned to have measurements (with the help of my mum). This is the East African Indian version, within which I am sure many must also make it differently. It’s also a common sweet treat for South African Indians too, but I believe their recipe is more different than similar to this one, but the idea is pretty much the same.
Mitha Dhai Wara pairs perfectly with a good cup of chai! If you’re vegan / dairy free, check out my vegan masala chai recipe. I have yet to try making dhai wara using vegan yogurt, I assume the result would be pretty similar! If you do try making it vegan, let me know how they turned out in the comments below!
I made this dough by hand, as it’s a small recipe that only requires one cup of flour. My deep bowl mixer wouldn’t have been able to properly combine the dough (trust me, it’s been tried and tested). It was super easy to bind by hand, I just hope you don’t mind getting your hands messy!
A QUICK TIP I would share, especially if you’re using a stand mixer would be to make sure that the ghee and the flour have been very well incorporated. When I tried to make this one cup recipe in my stand mixer, the ghee didn’t properly combine with the flour and I ended up having lumps of ghee in my dough as shown below. But when I did it by hand, I was able to make sure all ghee lumps were rid of using my fingers.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, don’t forget to leave a rating and let me know how yours turned out in the comments!
- 1 cup plain all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp melted warm ghee use a regular table spoon measurement, not a measuring spoon tbsp
- Half tsp cardamom powder
- 4 tbsp plain yogurt use a regular table spoon measurement, not a measuring spoon tbsp
- Oil for frying vegetable oil
The Sugar Syrup
- 0.5 cup caster sugar
- 0.5 cup water
- 3/4 tsp cardamom powder
- 1-2 cardamom pod de-shelled
- 1/2 tsp saffron
- A dash/small drop of orange food colouring I used powdered food colouring
For the topping
- Flaked almonds or pistachios, or both!
- Place the plain flour and half tsp cardamom powder in a wide steel plate or clean surface.
- Make a well in the centre and add the 2 tbsp of melted, warm ghee.
- Rub this mixture in your hands for a good few minutes to ensure the ghee is fully incorporated with the flour. Make sure there aren't any lumps of ghee in the mixture.
- Add the yogurt and knead vigorously using your palms, you can also punch the dough (lightly) with your knuckles. Knead until yogurt is completely incorporated and your mixture has come together to form a soft dough.
- Bring the dough together into a round shape and cover with a cloth / cling film to sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Flour a clean surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until it is 0.5 cm thick. You can keep it slightly thicker depending on how soft/crispy you like your dhai wara.
- Use a cookie cutter to cut out round circles of the dough. Keep rolling the dough out until you have cut out as many circles as you can.
- Use a butter knife to make 4-5 slits on each of them.
- Note: While your dhai wara is frying you can start preparing the sugar syrup!
- Fill a medium sized wok pan or deep frying pan with oil to half way. Allow to heat on a medium-high flame.
- Once heated, reduce the heat to a low – slightly medium flame and begin to place your dhai wara into the hot oil. Make sure not to over fill the pan.
- Once the bottoms of the dhai wara begin to brown, flip them over using a skimmer or long metal turner.
- Keep turning them over often until golden brown on both sides. Then remove from oil and place on a plate lined with a kitchen towel sheet.
- Meanwhile, in a pan, add all the sugar syrup ingredients and place on a medium – low high heat. Stir occasionally to ensure bottom of pan does not burn.
- The sugar syrup will be ready once it has slightly thickened and keeps bubbling.
- When it is done, reduce to a low heat and add some dhai wara into the sugar syrup, cover and coat completely then place on to serving plate. Top with flaked almonds/pistachios immediately as the sugar syrup will get dry and sticky very quickly.
- Repeat with the rest of the dhai wara and you're done! The dhai wara is ready to devour.