Friday, October 23, 2009

DHOKLA , .............ઢોકળા,


DHOKLA , ....ઢોકળા,

If Gujaratis were to be known with any other name, it can be with their flagship dish called "DHOKRA" also known as Dhokla.Origin of Dhokra is mired into as much controversy as Idli is. I quote this piece from a blog called "Controversial history".

The Dukkia is first mentioned in AD 1068 in Gujurati Jain literature, and dhokla appears in AD 1520 in the Varanaka Samuchaya. Besan flour is fermented overnight with curd, and steamed in slabs which are then cut into pieces and dressed with fresh coriander leaves, fried mustard seeds and coconut shreds. A coarser version is khaman and both are popular breakfast and snack foods in Gujurat. But we have to note that Gujart was ruled by chalukyas and Rastrakutas for many centuries before that and Idada may be from iddalige. Since we dont find references to that before that.

Indonesia origin

Achaya notes:
The use of rice grits along with urad dhal,the long fermentation of the mix, and the steaming of the batter to fluffiness. Only after 1250 AD are there references to what seem to be idlis as we know them. Achaya’s contention is that this absence from the historical record could mean that idlis are an imported concept — perhaps from Indonesia which has a long tradition of fermented products, like tempeh (fermented soy cakes), kecap (from where we get ketchup) or something called kedli, which Achaya says, is like an idli. This is plausible enough given the many links between Southeast Asia and South India, through rulers and traders. Achaya also adds many legendary stories ,but there is no basis for them. When we look forward to literary evidences in Indian literature , Achaya does not give any in Indonesia.

Heuan tsang says no steaming vessels south india in seventh century.But steaming vessels are not required for steaming dishes , steam can be produced using cloth over the vessel, still this method is used in south India.

My own contention on the above subject matter is somewhat in agreement with Sri Achaya. But I must hasten to add that Gujarat and Tamilnadu had very ancient maritime history. Gujaratis were on a long time trade relationship with Jawa, Sumatra(Indonasia)and Siam in olden days. So were the Nattukottai chettiars who belonged to Shreshthi( Chetti) community.

Both Gujaratis and Chettiars must have been influenced by Indonesian food and I am sure that they imported into India both Idli, Idada and Dhokra.Indonesian kings when on visit to Tamilnadu, also have been reported to have brought their cusine.Dhokla and Idada are two such things that Gujaratis took very much to their heart for ever.
They made experiments and still continue experimenting with recipes but the basic name remains the same. "DHOKLA"

Gujaratis prepare traditional Dhokra using a 0.25:1 ratio mix of Chnna Dal:Rice or Blackgram Dal and Rice.I prefer to use Idli rice and Gujaratis use either Khichadiya chokha or any rice on hand. Idli rice gives best results.Use any one dal to make Dhokla or Idada as explained as under in Ingredients list.

A quickfix form of Dhokla is prepared using just the Chickpea flour (Besan) and soda bicarb and of course other ingredients to prepare spongy Dhoklas. That is a modern version and not very healthy one due to the usage of a lot of soda bicarb.Soda renders the dhokla dry and gives it an earthy taste which many people do not like.
I prepare Spongy dhokla using fruit salt. This is much more healthy and it does not spoil the taste.




Idli rice (Par boiled)...2 cup
black gram dal (urad dal) ..1/2 cup (if you are making Idada)
Chick pea dal (Channa Dal) ...1/2 cup (If you are making Dhokla)
Chick pea flour (Besan)...2 Table spoons
Fenugreek seeds.....1/4 tsp
yogurt ....1.5 Cups
ginger 1" thumb thick piece
green chili peppers 2 to 3
Cooking oil .....1 oz
Fruit salt/Eno.....1 Tsp
cilantro/coriander leaves....few for garnishing
Curry leaves 1 sprig
Salt to taste
Chili powder for sprinkling (few pinches)
water .....1 litre
Mustard seeds... 1.5 tsp
Sesame seeds....1.5 tsp


Sok both Dal and rice for couple of hours and then drain and dry under fan till fully dry. Powder the dal and rice mix to Rawa (semolina) consistancy. Do not make fine flour. Set aside.

Take fresh curds ind mix dhokla powder to it. Add Fenugreek seeds . Add enough water to make thick runny paste. Add salt to taste and then mix thoroughly in to uniform paste. Let it rest over night at about 28 to 30 C temperature . You can use a preheated oven too. I preheat the oven for about 5 minutes till temperature reaches about 30 C. Then I switch off the heaters and put the fermenting batter in oven and leave it over night.

When you are ready to steam the Dhoklas, make a rough paste of Ginger and Green chili peppers and mix in batter.

Take a pan and add Fruit salt/Eno with a spoon of cooking oil and make fine uniform white liquid. Add Chickpea flour to this. If need be, add a little oil again . Mix thoroughly. Divide this mix into two parts.
Mix one portion to the Dhokla batter and besan mix. Using a ladle, mix them vigorously within about 10 seconds and pour the batter in a pre oiled plate of the steamer.Sprinkle red chili powder on top for decoration. Close the lid and steam cook the dhoklas for 20 minutes . Open the lid after 15 mts and check. If your finger tip sticks and removes the batter, it is not cooked yet. Generally it takes 20to 25 minutes.You can repeat the process for the second plate as above.

When done, remove the plate , let it cool a bit and then cut into diamond shapes. Garnish with cilantro and tempering of Mustard seeds and curry leaves. I also use sesame seeds along with mustard.
Traditionally Dhoklas are eaten dipping in peanut oil laced with salt and red chili powder. They are also eaten with Garlic Chutney.

KHAMAN , literally means powder. Dhoklas are once again crumbled into cooked powder and garnished as above and eaten. This is the khaman form of Dhoklas. I do not fancy that.


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