Dhokla - 1, Chana Dal & Rice Savoury Steamed Cakes
Dhokla - 1, Dal-Chawal ka
Dhokla is a kind of savoury steamed cake that is made from a fermented batter, made of various types of lentils, rice, chickpea flour and even bread. It comes from Gujarat region of India originally, but these days, it is served at many gatherings all over India and abroad. It can be prepared in advance and it is easy to re-heat.
To cook this dish, you have to decide a day in advance, as ingredients need to be soaked for a few hours, then ground and then allowed to ferment. However, you can use ready-made dhokla mixes available from Indian stores or bypass the fermenting process by adding ENO fruit salt or similar fruit salts, easily available from the chemist.
You need to have a steamer to be able to make it properly or a wok with a lid and a trivet (the sort that comes with pressure cooker) to place at the base. Special dhokla steamers bowls are available from Indian stores but I often use a round cake tin. Microwave dhokla steamers are also available these days, but you have to be very careful not to overcook, which can happen even if you give only 30 seconds too much cooking time, making them dry and leathery. Serve 4
Recipe re-written July 2013
100 gm. Basmati rice (1/2 cup)
200 gm. chana dal-skinless (Bengal Gram) (1 cup)
Enough natural yoghurt/dahi to grinds the dal and rice mix to a batter
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. fresh coriander leaves chopped
2-4 green chillies(as per taste), finely chopped
1 level tsp. soda bicarbonate
1-2 tsp. lime/lemon juice
2-3 tbsp. water
1-2 tbsp. sugar, depending upon how sweet you want your Dhoklas
1 tbsp. cooking oil of choice
1 tsp. mustard seeds
A pinch of asafoetida
1-2 green or dry red chillies, broken up
A few curry leaves (not bay leaves)
1 tbsp. desiccated coconut (optional)
Clean, wash and soak dal and rice together for 3-4 hours or overnight. Drain.
Grind coarsely (grainy, semolina like texture) with a little natural yoghurt, enough to give a batter like consistency.
Add salt and mix thoroughly. Ferment it by leaving it in a warm place for 5-6 hours. This may take a bit longer in cold weather. The batter rises and develops spongy texture, which makes them light like a sponge cake. Some cooks bypass this fermentation process by adding 1 teaspoon of a fruit salt like ENO/Andrews to the batter, just before cooking. It helps to give dhokla it's spongy consistency normally achieved by fermentation.
Heat a cup of water in a Dhokla steamer or a wok. If using a wok, place an upturned, small trivet or a metal bowl (katori) at the bottom. It will allow the steam to rise inside the wok without drowning the dhokla batter in boiling water. If you have a pressure cooker, it is usually supplied with a steaming plate with raised edges. Place this plate at the bottom of the wok.
Place about an inch or an inch and a half of batter in the greased dhokla or cake dish. Place this dish in the steamer/wok on top of the trivet/upturned dish. Cover with a lid. The lid should fit tightly to keep the steam inside.
Steam cook for 10-15 minutes, until spongy to touch (like a cake) and the mix does not 'come off' on your finger. Just like cake, when you insert a skewer or knife, it should come out clean.
Take off the heat and cool.
Mix water and lemon/lime juice and sugar.
Sprinkle over the cooked dhokla evenly.
Cut into diamond or squares. Keep aside.
When you are ready to serve, heat the oil in a frying pan or wok on medium heat.
Add mustard seeds, asafoetida powder, curry leaves and green/red chillies. Cover, to avoid mustard seeds jumping all over your kitchen, until spluttering stops.
Add dhokla squares and fry very gently, turning them over frequently. Non-stick wok is good for this.
Place in a serving dish and decorate with desiccated coconut and chopped green chillies. You can garnish with a few chopped coriander leaves too.
Serve with Serve with Green Mango Chutney.
Also see Chat Selection.