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The Timeless Taste of Rajasthani Kanji Vada

Updated: Jun 7

Rajasthani Kanji Vada
Rajasthani Kanji Vada

There are many regions of India where Mustard Oil isn’t used solely as a cooking medium; it also plays the role of a delightful taste agent, contributing to the overall flavour of the dish. You can experience this facet of Mustard Oil in the cuisines of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Bengal and Kashmir (especially, the legendary Wazwan cuisine of ancient Kashmir).

Our culinary journey today takes us to the regal state of Rajasthan which has used Mustard Oil to create and accentuate the flavours of its traditional cuisines for thousands of years. Even today, Rajasthan is an important region in the mustard value chain because it cultivates the best mustard crops and produces high quality mustard oilseeds. In fact, it accounts for more than 40 per cent of the mustard oilseeds that India produces.

The dish that we will be making today is called Kanji Vada. This is a preparation of black lentil dumplings (Vada) in mustard-flavoured water (Kanji). The Kanji lends a unique taste to this recipe and is also known as “Rai ka paani” (Rai refers to the mustard seeds that are used to infuse water with a warm mustard flavour). Kanji Vada is a much loved snack, and in some cities and towns of Rajasthan, it is also a popular street food item.

Let’s start by gathering the ingredients that you will require.

Ingredients for Rajasthani Kanji Vada

  1. Black Lentils (Urad Dal): 60 grams

  2. P Mark Mustard Oil: 4 tablespoons

  3. Mustard Seeds (Rai): 2 tablespoons

  4. Ginger (Adrak): 1 half-inch piece

  5. Green Chillies: 2

  6. Fennel (Saunf) Seeds: 1 teaspoon

  7. Asafoetida (Heeng): Just a pinch

  8. Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder: 1 tablespoon

  9. Coriander (Dhania) Seeds: 1 teaspoon

  10. Coriander (Dhania) Leaves: 2 tablespoons

  11. Salt: to taste

The quantities mentioned above are for preparing four servings. Adjust the quantities proportionately to suit the number of servings that you require.

Preparation for Rajasthani Kanji Vada

Soak the black lentils in water for at least four hours.

Coarsely grind the mustard seeds.

Peel, wash and chop the ginger.

Finely chop the green chillies.

Grind the fennel seeds.

Grind the coriander seeds.

Coarsely chop the coriander leaves.

Cooking Method of Rajasthani Kanji Vada

Let’s start by making the Kanji – the mustard flavoured water that is the essence of this dish. Take 500 millilitres of water in a pan and heat it till it becomes warm; you don’t need boiling hot water for the Kanji, just warm water will do.

Add the ground mustard seeds to the warm water along with the asafoetida, Kashmiri red chilli powder and salt to taste. Stir to mix well and then keep aside.

Let’s move on to preparing the batter for the dumplings (Vada). Drain the water from the soaked black lentils. Transfer the black lentils to a blender jar. Add the ginger, green chillies and salt to taste. Be careful with the salt – remember, you have already added salt to the Kanji.

Blend the contents into a smooth paste. You don’t have to add any water to make this paste. The residual moisture in the soaked black lentils will suffice.

Place the paste in a mixing bowl and add the ground fennel seeds and the ground coriander seeds along with the chopped coriander leaves. Mix well.

The batter for your Vada is now ready and we can proceed with the frying of the Vada.

Heat the Mustard Oil in a pan on a High flame till the oil reaches its smoking point. The arrival at the oil’s smoking point will be signalled by aromatic streams of white smoke rising slowly from the surface of the hot oil. Reduce the flame to Medium.

Carefully drop small palm-sized portions of the batter into the hot oil and deep-fry till the batter pieces turn golden brown in colour. Fry the Vada in batches so that the dumplings don’t get burnt.

When the Vada is done remove them from the oil and keep them aside in a bowl. Let them cool down to room temperature.

Take a large glass jar and place the Vada in this jar. Then pour the Kanji into the jar.

Leave the jar aside for two days, allowing the contents to ferment slowly. Keep the jar covered to prevent insects from getting into the jar.

Your traditional Rajasthani Kanji Vada is now ready. There are so many ways to savour and relish this dish! You can have it as a side dish with your meals; or you can make street food-style Chaat with it. It is an excellent accompaniment for meals because it has very good digestive properties.

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