Nucchina unde (nuchinunde or steamed lentil dumplings) is a healthy breakfast dish and snack popular in the state of Karnataka made using a mix of lentils. ‘Nuchu’ means broken and 'unde' means a ball or dumpling. In this recipe, the dal is broken by coarsely grinding it and is then shaped into dumplings and steamed in an idli stand.
These guilt-free dal dumplings are easy to make and taste very similar to deep-fried masala vadas or ambode. Nuchina unde tastes great with majjige huli, which is a yogurt-based curry. This traditional dish is also made during festivals and is served with ghee and coconut chutney.
The type and quantity of lentils used vary from region to region and every household has its favorite combination. This nucchina unde recipe was passed down to me. It uses four varieties of lentils along with some basic spices and herbs.
Why you will love this recipe?
✅ These healthy and wholesome steamed dumplings are grain-free and protein-rich. They can be served as breakfast, snacks, or even be served as a side dish with main meals.
✅ Nucchina unde is vegan and gluten-free. Lentils are a good source of plant-based protein if you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet.
✅ These dumplings are freezer-friendly and can be very handy to fuel up on busy weekday mornings. Just reheat them in a steamer, microwave, or air fryer.
Lentils: I use a mix of toor dal (arhar dal), chana dal, moong dal, and urad dal which needs to be soaked for a couple of hours.
Masala for grinding: Cumin seeds, fresh coconut, green chili, and ginger.
Other ingredients: Onions and cilantro (coriander leaves).
Soak chana dal, toor dal, moong dal, and urad dal together for 2-3 hours. Rinse well using fresh water. Grind the soaked dal with grated coconut, ginger, green chilies, and cumin into a coarse paste without adding any water (or using minimal water). Add onion, cilantro, and salt to the ground dal. Mix well.
Take a lemon-sized mixture and shape it into a dumpling. Lightly grease idli plates and place the dumpling on them. Steam for 15 minutes in the idli steamer.
Once they are steamed, let them sit in the stand for another 5 minutes before taking them out of the molds.
It is important to grind the dal with minimal water. We should be able to scoop and make oval-shaped dumplings easily without the batter falling apart.
Let the steamed dumplings sit in the idli stand for 5 minutes before taking them out. Slightly cooling them will make it easy to remove them from the mold.
Other ingredients that can be added to the batter are curry leaves, dill leaves, green onions, and grated carrots. For this recipe, you will need around one cup dill leaves.
Serve nuchinunde hot as they tend to get a bit hard when cold. These dumplings taste best when served with a generous amount of ghee.
Storing and Reheating
These lentil dumplings can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. They also freeze well and can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat them, place them in a steamer and reheat them for 4-5 minutes.
I also love to air fry them to add a crunchy top layer. Brush a little bit of oil on them and place them in the air fryer basket. Air fry at 390 F (200 C) for 5-7 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Steamed masala vada when air-fried tastes very similar to deep-fried masala vada.
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Steamed Lentil Dumplings (Nucchina Unde)
- 1 cup toor dal pigeon pea
- ¾ cup chana dal Bengal gram
- ¼ cup moong dal yellow lentils
- ¼ cup urad dal split black gram
- ¼ cup coconut grated
- 1 inch ginger
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 3-4 green chili or as per taste
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust as per taste
- Soak chana dal, toor dal, moong dal, and urad dal together for 2-3 hours. Rinse well using fresh water.
- Grind the soaked dal with coconut, ginger, green chilies, and cumin into a coarse paste without adding any water (or use minimal water).
- Mix onion, cilantro, and salt into the ground dal.
- Take a lemon-sized mixture and shape it into a dumpling.
- Lightly grease idli plates and place the dumpling on them.
- Steam for 15 minutes in the idli steamer. Once they are steamed, let them sit in the stand for another 5 minutes before taking them out of the molds.
- Serve hot with coconut chutney or chutney of your choice.
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