Thursday, December 20, 2007

Khaman Dhokla

There are many types of Dhoklas. The most popular are khatta dhokla which is white and khaman dhokla which is yellow. Then, there is Nylon Khaman Dhokla which is made from besan (chickpea flour). And of course, there are numerous permutations and combinations with Toor daal dhokla, Moog daal dhokla, green peas dhokla, mixed daal dhokla, Wheat dhokla, Sandwich Dhokla, Rawa Dhokla or even lilwa tuvar dhokla.

My mother-in law sends me a yearly supply of "Khatta Dhokla" flour. It's a homemade coarse flour of urad daal and rice. It is fermented using sour buttermilk or yogurt. Because of that sour taste, it is called Khatta Dhokla. Nylon Khaman Dhokla is readily available in most of the Farsan Marts. The readymade, instant dhokla packets that I have tried are Gits, Chitale Bandhu, Tarla Dalal, & Ramdev. My most favorite is Ramdev and close second is Tarla Dalal brand. I am not sure if Ramdev is available at the Indian stores in United States.

When you travel towards Gujarat from Mumbai, you get "Shree ji khaman" in the train. That's the best dhokla I have ever tasted. The following recipe is my attempt to create that taste. Why the soaked chana daal? You are right. It's not mandatory. But it gives a nice bite to the otherwise smooth batter of the Dhokla. If you don't care for it, or have simply forgotten to keep a spoonful away, don't worry about it. Proceed with the rest. You will get the same results.

Note - Most of the Gujarati households refer to this dish as just "khaman" rather than "Khaman Dhokla" as referred elsewhere.

Khaman Dhokla
1 cup rice
1 cup + 1 tbsp chana daal
1 cup urad daal

1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp oil
salt to taste

2 tsp green chili-ginger paste

1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp buttermilk or water
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
A generous pinch of asafoetida

2 tbsp chopped cilantro/coriander leaves
1 tbsp grated coconut (Optional)
2 chilies, slit (Optional)

1. Soak the daals and rice overnight.
2. Grind to a coarse paste except 1 tbsp chana daal.
3. Cover and keep for fermenting, in a warm place for at least 8 hours. Refrigerate the remaining 1 tbsp chana daal.
4. Mix buttermilk, oil and baking soda. Make sure that the buttermilk is at the room temperature. Add this mixture to the batter. Add salt, ginger chili paste and 1 tbsp refrigerated chana daal. Mix well. Add more water if necessary to make idli batter like consistency.
5. Grease thalis (metal plates) or cooker containers. Heat water in the pressure cooker.
6. Equally divide the batter in plates or containers. Steam without pressure for 20 minutes.

7. Open the pressure cooker. Let dhokla cool down a little. Cut into squares.
8. Heat oil in a small saucepan. Add mustard seeds, sesame seeds, asafoetida. As they splutter, switch off the gas, add buttermilk or water and pour on the dhokla evenly. 9. Garnish with coconut, cilantro and green chilies.

Note -
1. Urad daal and rice can be ground together (dry) and kept in an airtight container. So when you want to make dhokla, you can just add plain yogurt or buttermilk for fermenting. But I feel that, the soaked daal dhokla tastes better.
2. When you add water to the batter to adjust the consistency, make sure it is lukewarm.
3. You can sprinkle a dash of freshly crushed black pepper or paprika over the dhokla batter in the thali, before steaming.
4. You can use brown basmati rice instead of white basmati rice. It will give a slight brown shade to the dhokla.
5. This Dhokla has a pale yellow color so I haven't added any turmeric powder. The pale yellow color is given by the chana daal. If you want a bright yellow shade, you can add turmeric powder.


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