Vegetarian Appetizers To Make At Home: Dal Arancini

This recipe was made using the Dal Tadka Masala from Spice Box Organics

What is arancini?

Arancini is a traditional snack from Sicily, Italy. The word itself means ‘small oranges’ which represents how these delicious deep fried risotto balls should look like. This Sicilian staple is most often stuffed with cheese and served with a rich tomato sauce.

This recipe unifies the Sicilian snack with an Indian household staple, making an aromatic, zesty and spicy dal filled arancini.

How to cook the dal arancini

I cooked a simple dal recipe using Spice Box Organic’s Dal Tadka Masala blend and used that in replacement of broth for the risotto.

If you’ve never made risotto before, it’s important to know that you don’t cook risotto like regular rice. Risotto needs to be constantly stirred in order for the grains to rub against each other, release the starch and turn the dish perfectly creamy. The risotto is cooked by constantly stirring for 20-25 minutes. It is a pure labour of love.

There are many flavours of risotto, typically white wine is used, then broth is added along with some mushrooms. I’ve kept the white wine in this recipe to add some extra sweetness to the aromatic flavours of the spice blend.

Sicilian risotto balls spiced with dal tadka masala from spice box organics

Assembling the dal arancini

I first cooked the risotto until it was quite starchy, and until all the liquid evaporated. The arancini was easier to shape this way. In the palm of my hand, I flattened about 1 tablespoon of the risotto mixture and stuffed the center of the risotto with some dried spiced lentils. I then folded the risotto together and shaped it into a ball. I coated this with breadcrumbs and baked this for about 10 minutes.

The tadka

In typical dal style, there needs to be a tadka for extra flavour. I crisped up some garlic in melted butter and added some saffron for extra aroma. I then poured this over the freshly baked arancini.

You must serve this warm, or bake it before serving. It won’t taste as good when it’s cold, just like dal.

Dal Arancini

The Veggie Wifey
This beautiful appetizer is perfect to make when hosting at home. This dal arancini made of lentils, risotto and garnished with buttered garlic tadka (crispy garlic) over a vegan aioli sauce.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Indian, Italian
Servings 10 Arancinis


For The Dal

  • 1 cup masoor dal (red split lentils) This is what you need to prep first. The dal needs to be washed until the water comes clear, and soaked in water for the duration of your prep to soften and shorted cooking time.
  • 20g solid ghee or unsalted butter if your ghee is liquid, use about 2 tbsps of liquid ghee
  • 1/4 medium white onion chopped
  • 10 yellow cherry tomatoes you can use red as well. I used yellow to add a bit of sweetness to the aromatic dal.
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1 tsp ginger grated
  • 1 red birds eye chilli chopped
  • 1 tbsp Dal Tadka Masala from Spice Box Organics
  • 1/4 tsp salt or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  • 2.5 cups water room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt to add after the water is added (see detailed recipe method below)

For The Risotto

  • 1 cup risotto carnaroli I used carnaroli for this recipe instead of arborio risotto because of the starch content in carnaroli. I wanted this arancini to be thicker and creamier to hold the taste of the dal. If you don't have access to carnaroli, you can certainly use arborio.
  • 1/2 cup white wine I used a medium body, dry and more acidic Sauvignon Blanc for this recipe. I wanted to balance out the sweetness of the tomatoes with something crisp. You can certainly try a sweeter wine with this. You can also try using red!
  • 1 cup water

Assembling The Dal Arancini

  • avocado oil
  • breadcrumbs

For The Garnish (Tadka)

  • 2 tbsps minced garlic
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • a pinch of saffron

For The Sauce

  • 25g coriander chopped
  • 20 mint leaves chopped
  • 4 tbsps vegan aioli You can use vegan mayo and add some garlic oil or minced garlic in this as well. The point of this is to create a creamy, light sauce to balance out the intensity of the dal arancini and garnish


For The Dal

  • In a large cast iron pot, melt the butter over medium heat
  • Add the onions and sauté until translucent
  • Add the ginger, garlic and red chilli. Sauté this until fragrant.
  • Now add the tomatoes, and stir this mixture until all the water evaporates from the tomatoes.
  • Make sure all the water is removed from the soaked dal, and pour the dal into this mixture. Sauté the dal with the tomatoes for a minute
  • Sprinkle the Dal Tadka Masala over this, add the lemon juice and 1/4 tsp of the salt. Mix this thoroughly.
  • Now, the flavoring of the dal is complete. You would need to divide this mixture into half. Place one half of the mixture in a bowl and set aside. The other half of the mixture should remain in the cast iron to make the liquid dal for the risotto.
  • With the remaining dal mixture in the cast iron, add the water, salt and and mix it all together for about 30 seconds.
  • Place the lid on the pot and let this cook for 10 minutes on LOW heat.

For The Risotto

  • In a large nonstick pan, add the risotto and whisk it for 30 seconds over medium heat
  • Add the white wine and whisk it in the risotto until it evaporates
  • Now, you can add the liquid dal bit by bit, constantly stirring the risotto until it thickens, and cooks. This will take about 20 minutes.
  • Sometimes the dal soaks up all the water, so you will need another cup of water to fully cook the risotto. Pour that bit by bit until the risotto is cooked. You have to constantly stir the risotto to cook it. The reason for this is because the creaminess of the risotto comes from the grains of rice rubbing against each other to release more starch. Additionally, it adds air to the risotto and prevents it from burning at the bottom of the pan.
  • Adding more water to the risotto dilutes the flavour a little bit, so you may need to sprinkle a little more salt, and Dal Tadka Masala to enhance the flavours to your taste. Feel free to add a little more lemon juice in this too. I love dals with a zesty spice.
  • This mixture needs to be starchy before you begin forming the arancini.

Assembling The Dal Arancini

  • Oil your hands with avocado oil
  • Add 1 tbsp of the dal arancini mixture, and flatten it in your palm
  • Using your finger or the back of a tsp, create a small center of the flattened dal aracini and add in the dry dal mixture for the filling. Add about 1 tsp of it in the center
  • Now gently wrap the edges of the flattened mixture together, to create a ball shape. Roll your palms together to enhance the sphere. Add more oil if you need to to ensure the rice does not stick onto your hands and break the ball apart
  • Roll the ball in a plate of breadcrumbs and place onto a parchment covered baking tray
  • Repeat this for the remaining of the mixture
  • Bake this for 10 minutes at 175 degrees Celsius

For The Garnish (Tadka)

  • In a small cast iron saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat
  • Add the garlic and gently stir until golden brown
  • Add the saffron and take it off the heat.
  • Pour this mixture right before serving the arancini to enhance all the flavours

For The Sauce

  • Mix all the ingredients together

To Serve

  • To serve, smooth over a spoonful of sauce in a coin-sized circle and gently place one dal arancini on top. Sprinkle with a few more crispy garlic pieces from the tadka, and fresh saffron.
  • This tastes best hot, so ensure its warm when you serve this
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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