Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bhapouri, Baphouri or steamed dumplings... desi lentil dumplings ...

There are a few old recipes which have been favorites since childhood. I think this one was made quite frequently as it was my mom's favorite as well. She used to make a large batch of it and then some would be eaten warm as steamed dumplings , some would be refrigerated to be fried for the time snacks and some would be curried just like any other kofta curry.

My mom liked it in all three forms and we also liked it just because this thing was praised so much. I think this is a very important tool when we want our kids to like the healthy versions of snacks or home made food. They start liking what we praise and what we eat with delight. Happy moments are associated with good food, tasty food. So if we all enjoy an ice cream and expect a kid would not eat it, behaving like a good girl/boy, we are being unfair.

What do you think?

Coming to this healthy snack or meal recipe, this is a quick cooking one to. Although it looks like extensive work, with a steaming device and a grinding gadget used, the cooking time is not much.

Thirty minutes is not much of a time when 5-6 portions can be prepared if you start from scratch. For the two of us, it results in snacking 3 times or 2 day's worth of snacks and a curry. Good enough.

I used to make it quite often sometime back, almost always using an idli steamer, the dumplings would be in the shape of idlis and would be deep fried sometimes for guests. Always a nice tea time snack.

Sometimes it would be a breakfast too. The shallow fried whole idlies, with slightly crisp spots here and there, will be submerged in a thin green chutney (coriander, mint and green chillies with lime) and that would make a hot-spicy-tangy start to the day.

This time I decided to make it the way my mom used to steam them. Just for the blog as I wanted an authentic looking Bhapouri here :-)

So Bhaap is steam in Hindi and the dumpling is called Bhapouri or Baphouri in regional accents.

The preparation is quite simple and you can steam them even if you don't own a steamer. I always steam all my Momos and Fara (goojha) and dumplings this way and have not felt a need to buy a fancy steamer to clutter my kitchen. Which it already is.

The idli steamer I have and have reduced using it already. Simpler utensils work better most of the times.


To make a paste...
dhuli masoor daal (skinned red lentils) 1 cup (soaked for minimum 2 hours or overnight for convenience)
cumin seeds 2 tsp
ginger roughly chopped an inch piece
garlic cloves 5-6
dry whole red chillies 2-3 or to taste
turmeric powder 1 tsp

To mix in the paste...
diced onions 3-4 to 1 cup
chopped coriander greens 2-3 tbsp (optional)


It's really quick if you have soaked the lentils beforehand. Keeping the paste ready is also one step ahead to a quick snack.

So make the paste with all the ingredients listed. A coarse paste is intended.

Mix the chopped onions and greens if using, to the paste.

And while you are doing the blending and mixing, put a pan with water to boil. Place a perforated plate over the rim of the pan and place a muslin cloth to line he perforated plate. I use a square cotton handkerchief.

If using a proper steamer, you know what to do.

The paste of lentils has to be dropped like Vadis (or Badi) , small round dumplings using a spoon or your fingers, into the lined perforated plate.

Then cover the plate with a lid and let it steam for about 10 minutes on medium flame.

Note that I have used a regular Indian Kadhai and have placed a deep perforated plate (steel chhanni) which fits the rim of the kadhai. We all have a few pans of different sizes and lids of different sizes and such an arrangement can be done every time if you plan to steam something. I find it more practical than a steamer.

The dumplings get cooked and the color changes a bit. Becomes a dull yellowish brown. Flip one of the dumplings using a spoon or a knife, it should not be sticking to the cloth or the surface of steamer. Flipping easily, it indicates it is cooked.

These can be had immediately with or without a green chutney. If you are planning to have it with masala tea, which takes about 10 minutes to boil and get ready with milk, you can steam these dumplings on the side if you have the lentil paste ready. Or just quickly stir fry or deep fry the dumplings if you the leftovers in the fridge.

The dumplings keep well in the fridge and can be reheated, fried or curried later. You can always use other lentils for making these dumplings , which would result in different taste and texture. These red lentil,ones are traditionally made for their light texture, probably due to quick cooking property and because they are really tasty too. I have tried making them with other lentils but always found them inferior to these ones. So if you are thinking of Chana daal (split chickpeas) or even split yellow peas, why not making another version called Beasn Katli which involves a slightly different cooking technique and the taste and texture is really great.

Different ingredients need to be treated differently I feel. To make the best of them :-)


  1. Lovely; thanks for sharing Sangeeta

  2. Very nice recipe i'm going to try this soon

  3. A nice traditional recipe. Should try it.

  4. Sangeetha u asked at my blog about , Mezhukvaratti , it is from Kerala

    1. Thank you Nisha. I like using the traditional names myself :-)

  5. sounds very yummy. Can I do this steaming in a idli mould?

    1. Glad you liked it Anita. Yes you can steam them in an idli steamer, in fact I do the same most of the times as stated in the post. Steaming this way is the traditional way so I wanted the post this way :-)

  6. I am definitely going to make this. I love the idea of this not being fried

  7. That's yum as it is not fried....

  8. Hi Sangeeta,

    Let me first congratulate and more importantly thank you for this excellent blog. I live alone in the US and miss home cooked food made with as much love as deftness by my mother. Since I mostly home cook my food, it has made me appreciate hours that my mother would spend in her kitchen (that too in Indian summer). Your blog has inspired me to pick that thread and in way I connect to my home again( My maternal house is at Banaras)

    Coming back to the recipe, I found it strangely easy for something that tastes so good (I have forwarded your recipe to my mom...let’s see how it goes for her). One thing I would like to confirm is the texture of the cooked bhapouris. From the picture that you have posted it looks much drier (like nuggets, bari). Mine however was a bit soft (though cooked completely). Is this "acceptable”?

    And finally a request. I am very keen on starting baking, and for some strange reason what to cook Nankhatai first. Since, you are my sole gourmet chef, can you please post a step-by-step process to them? Would be very grateful.

    Thanks again and looking forward to all your posts.

    1. Thanks Rohan. Reading such stories is heartwarming :-)

      The texture of these Bahpouris is not dry. These are wet on the surface but the pictures are night time artificial light ones so it's not very clear. A little wetter or softer Bhapouris are perfectly okay as long as they hold their shape.

      Naankhatais will be up very soon. It is colder weather now and I might bake them this weekend itself.