Easy Vegetable Khaman Dhokla - Steam Cooked Savoury Indian Cake (V)
Dhokla is a steamed savoury cake. This healthy and low fat dish from Gujarat is usually served as a snack at teatime, or as part of a Gujrathi thali (an Indian style meal made of many different dishes all served together on a large steel plate). Traditonally, dhokla is made by soaking rice and lentils (the types of lentils depend on the variety of dhokla you are making) overnight and grinding this into a batter which is then steam cooked.
Dhokla made from Bengal gram lentils/ chana dal (or the yellow coloured dhokla) is referred to as Khaman Dhokla whereas that which is made from black gram lentils/ urad dal and uses yogurt (curds) which gives it a tangy taste is called Khatta Dhokla. Dhokla comes in many varieties (depending on what's in them) such as Moong Dhokla, Corn Dhokla, Methi (Fenugreek Leaves) Dhokla, Sooji (Semolina) Dhoklas to mention just a few.
This version, using chickpea flour, isn't very authentic but doesn't take much time or effort to make and the result is very crumbly and tasty dhokla. I wrote this recipe down, a long time back, from my cousin and the additions of carrots and beans are mine though I have seen a similar recipe in Tarla Dalal's book, so maybe that's where it originally came from.
For the batter:
- Mix all the ingredients given for batter, except the Eno's fruit salt, using enough water (about 1 1/2 cups – this is just an estimate) to make a thick batter. The batter should thickly coat your spatula. Keep aside for about 15 minutes. The semolina will absorb some of the water in the batter, so the batter will become thicker after standing for 15 minutes. Adjust the consistency with a couple of spoons of water before steam cooking.
- On the stove top, get your steamer (whatever you use for steam cooking food) ready. Once the water is boiling and the steam is rising well from the steamer, add the Enos' fruit salt to the batter. Sprinkle a little water over the fruit salt. It will start bubbling and frothing.
- Stir the batter well enough to mix in the fruit salt. Pour the batter into a well oiled round (9" or 10")or square cake tin (8" by 8") or a thali (a round steel plate with high sides) and steam cook for about 10 to 12 minutes or till a skewer comes out of the dhokla clean.
- For the tempering, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they start to splutter, add the sesame seeds, chopped chillies, asafetida and curry leaves. Add the 1 tbsp of water and pour this over the steamed dhokla. Garnish with coriander and coconut.
- Cut the dhokla into squares and serve warm or at room temperature with green chutney or if preferred with tomato ketchup.
Note : This recipe calls for Eno's fruit salt which is normally available in India at most pharmacies, in single use sachets or bottles. It is supposed to be effective as an antacid, but I really have no idea whether this claim is true. However, Eno's does work magic in this recipe and is preferable to baking powder here.
What is Eno's fruit salt? ccording to this source, it is a mix of Sodium Bicarbonate (46.4%), Citric Acid (43.6%), Sodium Carbonate (10%). GlaxoSmithKline makes this product. It is not as sensitive to food formations as straight Sodium Bicarbonate plus it does not have that "aftertaste" that Sodium Bicarbonate has.