Recently, I got presented with a dhokla maker by my husband’s aunt and I am beyond thrilled! Having lived in Mumbai for many years, fluffy white fermented rice cakes were things that my palate took so well to and I really missed them when I came up north. So when presented with the apparatus, I went on the internet for some ideas and got down to it in a big way. Not that you need a specific dhokla maker to make these, one can adapt with anything but the gift just spurred me on somehow.
I’ve since made these three times in just a week, and with the size of my household and the many people I keep sending my culinary creations to, I made big batches, so adapted to a larger vessel. I now use my massive momo/dumpling steamer to save time and gas for these and they come out brilliant. The dhokla maker will get used for smaller quantities.
These Khatta Dhoklas are generally made with the same batter used to make Idlis (fermented rice +urad dal combination), so instead of the time-consuming effort to make the batter from scratch, I use the cheats’ version – ready made idli batter in vacuum packs from the store – and they come out brilliant! I served these as appetisers at a small dinner party and they got gobbled up. You can make them as spicy or bland as you like (I like them a bit spicy) and have them with a coriander/mint chutney. The recipe can be halved with exact proportions. So easy. It’s best to use Eno’s fruit salt to get the leavening and bubbles. Eno’s is a combination of baking soda and citric acid, which contributes to the ‘khatta’ or sour taste of the dhokla along with the yoghurt. If you simply can’t get a hold of Eno’s, you can try replacing it with the same quantity of baking soda and some lemon juice.
Dhoklas, originated in the western Indian state of Gujarat are generally three types with many variations and combinations but the basic ones are Khatta Dhoklas, which are either made with this rice/urad dal combination or semolina (suji) and the Khaman Dhokla which is yellow in colour and made with chickpea flour (besan). I favour the rice one and these days it is just so easy to get readymade idli batter so it cuts down your making time by a whole day!
If you don’t have a steamer, use a large deep saucepan or pot with a lid which will hold your dhokla thali/dish well within. You need to overturn a steel bowl into the pot and fill with water halfway up the bowl, or use a wire stand in the pan or pot and place the plate with the dhokla on it. Make sure the water when bubbling does not touch the bottom of the dhokla thali/dish. Leave enough gap between the water and the dish. Okay now, without rambling further, one delicious dhokla recipe coming up.
1 kg (4 cups) readymade fresh idli batter (found in stores)
2 cups thick yoghurt (500 gms)
1 tablespoon ginger paste (15 gms)
2 large green chillies really finely chopped
2 tsp salt
2 packets Eno’s fruit salt (5gm each)
½ tsp Kashmiri mirch powder (sweet red mild chilli powder)
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1½ tbsp vegetable oil
¼ cup loosely packed coriander leaves (dhaniya patta)
Two 10-inch steel thalis or any baking dish with raised sides. Whatever fits in your steamer.
2 tsp vegetable oil to brush all over the dishes
A large steamer/ dhokla maker/
*This recipe can be exactly halved.
Get Started (pictorial steps below)
- Brush 1 teaspoon of oil each all over two 10-inch round thalis (flat round steel plates with raised sides). If you don’t have thalis you can even use baking tins of any shape or glass dishes.
- Add 3 inches of water to your steamer and start heating it over the stove. Make sure it comes to a boil then turn the heat to medium.
- In a large bowl add the idli batter, yoghurt, ginger paste, salt and green chillies and mix well.
- Then add the Eno’s fruit salt and mix just enough to fully incorporate. The batter will foam up and almost double. Immediately pour the batter into the thalis or the dishes about ¾ inches high and put the thalis into individual sections of the steamer. Tightly cover the thali on the lower section with clingfilm as huge drops of water will fall on it from the section above. This saves it from getting soggy. Cover the top of the steamer and steam for 20 minutes.
- Remove immediately from the steamer after 20 minutes, take off the cling film and allow the dhokla to cool. The batter will seem wet but don’t worry, it will firm up.
- Once slightly cooled, sprinkle the Kashmiri mirch powder all over the surface of the dhoklas.
- In a small ladle, heat 1.5 tablespoons of vegetable oil and when hot, add the mustard seeds to it. It should start spluttering immediately. Remove from heat and sprinkle all over the dhoklas. You can use the oil brush to evenly brush the oil and the mustard seeds all over.
- Then sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves over the dhoklas.
- Loosen the edges of the dhokla from the dish with a knife and cut them into whatever shape you like. I like the diamond pattern.
- The dhokla can be eaten warm or cold. To heat, you can put them in the microwave for 30 seconds. Enjoy.