March 16, 2013

The Gujarati Kitchen – A Review & Daal Dhokali (Indian Style Spiced Pasta In Split Pigeon Peas)

ndia probably has the largest number and greatest variety of vegetarian dishes in the world. After my traditional cuisine and other South Indian vegetarian food, my next best vegetarian food is that of Gujarat and Rajasthan.  Actually, I would have a tough time choosing between the two.
So when Westland sent me a copy of The Gujarati Kitchen – Family Recipes for the Global Palate by Bhanu Hajratwala, I was sure the book would have some recipes I would love trying out. The first thing that struck me when I went through the book, was that it had a lot of non-vegetarian recipes! I always thought of Gujarati food as being vegetarian for some reason, but there’s no reason why Gujaratis would not cook non-vegetarian food. After all, Gujarat is home not just to Hindus or Jains, but also to Muslims and a small Christian population who are traditionally non-vegetarian.

The book starts with a rather long but readable introduction by the author about her life and the influences on food in her life, and how she went from someone who was not interested in cooking to being known as “the Martha Stewart of Gujarati cooking” amongst her family and friends!
Then the author offers generaltips and advise about the ingredients used in the book, how to prepare them, cookware, details of a well-stocked Gujarati pantry, measurements, oven temperatures, etc. There are also recipes to make the different spice blends/ masalas used in her book.
The recipes are categorised as expected under Starters, Main Dishes, Breads, Rice, Accompaniments With Rice, Sweets, Chutneys and Relishes, Pickles, Favourite Teatime Snacks, Drinks and even one for “Mukhwaas” or the mouth fresheners that typically round off every meal.
One thing I liked is how every chapter has separate sections dedicated to vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes. The recipes are concise but detailed enough to follow easily. Most of them are accompanied by the author’s notes and also variations that one can make with the given recipe.


Many of the recipes have rather long ingredient lists, but are actually not difficult to make. They are all traditional Gujarati recipes naturally, but seem to show the influence from Ms. Hajratwala’s having lived outside India all her life, in the recipes and the pronunciation of many of their names.
The recipes include common favourites like Doodhina Muthia (Bottle Gourd Fritters), Khandvi (Gram Flour Rolls, Batatanu Sukhu Shaakh (Dry Potato Curry), Oondhiyu (Upside-Down Vegetables), Bhakri & Thepla (Flatbreads), Khichdi (Rice with Lentils), Ghugara (Sweet Dumplings), Naankhatai (Surti Shortbread) and others like Khajoor Pak (Healthy Date Fudge), Hing Aamliwali Daal (Peasants’’ Daal), Vaddhoo (Mixed Legume Curry), Bhaakarina Laadwa (Whole-wheat Sweets), Kachoomar Athanu (Mixed Fruit & Vegetable Pickle).
There’s even a recipe for home-made Tadee (Toddy/ Palm Juice)!

I have seen quite a few cookbooks on Gujarati cooking but this is the first one I’ve seen that includes non-vegetarian recipes. Even though I’m vegetarian, there are enough recipes in here to keep me happy for a while. I would definitely recommend this book as one to add to one’s collection. The only thing that I’m unhappy about, are the number of photographs that are in this book and their rather lack lustre quality. The photographs in the book certainly will not sell it to someone who’s browsing through it.
About the author:

Bhanu Hajratwala was raised in a traditional Gujarati family in the Fiji Islands and grew up eating authentic homemade Gujarati fare. When she moved to the United States after marriage, she learned to improvise while trying to maintain authentic flavours, as a lot of the traditional ingredients were not available.
 She has since compiled several cookbooks for community organizations, recipes for worship during ceremonies, and writes a Women’s Corner column in her community’s Gujarati magazine. She has also conducted cooking demonstrations and classes throughout the United States and in New Zealand, Fiji, India, and Australia. Currently she lives in San Francisco Bay area in California with her husband.


I had book-marked a few recipes to try out and one of them was her Daal Dhokali (also known as Daal Dhokli). Many Gujarati households serve this dish on Sunday mornings, and it can be served either as a one-dish meal or else as a gravy preparation with rice.
Daal Dhokali is a sort of lentil soup that’s a perfect balance of salty, spicy, tangy and sweet flavours.It is made by simmering spiced “Dhokalis (diamond shaped whole-wheat pasta) in a “Daal (Lentil Soup/ Gravy)”.  The “Dhokali” are usually added to the gravy and cooked just before serving so they don’t become soggy. The lentil gravy differs from cook to cook and there are many variations. Some recipes use tuvar dal while others use a mix of lentils, some add jaggery while others keep it savoury, and so on.

The Dal Dhokali is topped off with a tempering, some lemon juice, chillies and fresh coriander leaves. It is a very popular Gujarati/Rajasthani dish and you’ll find variations of it all over the place. Some recipes make it just with toor dal, others like to mix up different lentils. Some add besan(chickpea flour) to their dhokli’s while others stick to wheat flour. Some add sugar/jaggery whereas others just keep it savory.
Daal Dhokali goes well with rice, mango pickle, papad, and an Indian style Onion, Tomato and Cucumber Salad/ Salsa
This recipe uses tuvar dal, jaggery, lemon and kokum, and peanuts. Don’t let the long ingredient list scare you. It’s just a matter of organising all the ingredients in one place and the cooking up this lentil preparation isn’t all the difficult.
I know when one is reviewing a recipe, it’s a plan to stick to the recipe but I deviated just a little. I added some chickpea flour (besan) to the “Dhokali” dough because I ove the taste of it. I added 1  1/2 tbsp of chickpea flour  topped up with whole-wheat flour to make up the required measurement.
I don't use shortening so substitued for it in the Dhokali dough with a little more oil.

The other thing I must mention is that since the reipe says it serves 4 to 6, I decided to halve the recipe since I didn’t want us eating Daal Dhokali through next week also. The halved recipe was enough to serve 4 to 6, in my opinion so you might want to take a call on that if you’re making this.
Other than that, we like it. Well, I should say that I liked it very much while my husband and our daughter decided they preferred the “Daal” part of the dish and would prefer to give the “Dhokali” a miss. It’s all a matter of taste, really.
Daal Dhokali (Indian Style Spiced Pasta In Split Pigeon Peas)
(Reproduced with permission from The Gujarati Kitchen by Bhanu Hajratwala)


For the Daal:

1 cup husked, split pigeon peas (tuvar/ arhar dal), soaked overnight
1 large tomato
2” -3” piece sweet potato, peeled and halved
2” slice aubergine (baingan)
1 tbsp salt
4 cups + 6 cups water
1 tsp fresh masala*
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tbsp cumin powder
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp sugar or 1/4 cup grated jaggery (gur)
4 kokam (optional)
1/4 cup peeled and skinned fresh peanuts (optional)
1 tbsp fresh grated coconut (optional)
6 fresh green chilles, halved lengthwise
10 -12 curry leaves 

For The Dhokali: 

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp shortening
2/3 cup + 2 tbsp water
1 tsp oil 

For Tempering: 

2 tbsp ghee
4 dried chillies
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder 

To Serve:

1/4 cup fresh chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp ghee 

*For the fresh masala grind together the following into a paste - 2” fresh ginger  + 4 garlic cloves  + 8 fresh green chillies or red chillies + 2” fresh yellow turmeric/ 1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder + 1 tbsp oil + 1 tbsp lemon juice. This makes 3 tbsp of fresh masala which can be refrigerated for 6 to 8 weeks or frozen in small single use quantities for longer.


Start the Daal. Wash the soaked daal and drain.
In a medium covered pan, add the daal, tomato, sweet potato, aubergine, salt and 4 cups water.
Bring to a boil. Cook covered, on moderate-low heat for about 30 minutes, till the daal is completely soft. Remove from heat. (If using a pressure cooker, add only 3 cups of water and cook for 10 minutes).
Mix with a hand-held or electric mixer till the daal and the vegetables are well blended and smooth.
Stir in the fresh masala, turmeric, chilli, coriander, cumin powders. Add the lemon juice, sugar/ jaggery and 6 cups of water. Mix well.
Add the kokam, peanuts, and coconut (if you wish), fresh chillies and curry leaves, and then set aside.

Make the Dhokalis next. In a medium bowl combine the flour, chilli and turmeric powders, carom seeds and salt. Mix well. Rub in the shortening.
Add the water and knead to make a pliable dough. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Lightly oil a rolling board and rolling pin.
Roll one portion of the dough thinly into a large circle, 10” – 12” in diameter. Cut into strips in two directions, creating diamond shaped pieces about 1 1/2 “ wide.
Transfer the Dhokali to a tray or wax paper. Repeat with the remaining 5 portions of dough.

Now make the Daal Dhokali. Bring the Daal to boil, lower the heat and let it simmer.
Carefully add the Dhokali pieces to the simmering Daal. Stir gently, but frequently. After the Dhokali has been added, raise the heat and let it boil for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
The consistency of the Daal Dhokali can vary from family to family. For a thicker consistency, boil for a longer time. To make a thinner one, add 1/2 cup water or more as desired. Remove from heat.

Temper the Daal Dhokali. Put the ghee in a small covered pan on moderate-low heat.
When the ghee is hot, add the red chillies, fenugreek and mustard seeds. Cover the pan till the mustard seeds pop and the fenugreek seeds turn light brown.
Add the cumin seeds and let them brown. Sprinkle in the asafoetida powder. Pour this mixture into the Daal Dhokali, and cover to prevent splattering.
Add the coriander leaves and mix. Top with ghee and serve hot with yogurt and papad. This recipe serves 4 to 6 people.