Friday, 13 February 2015


Practice patience and more practice makes one perfect. This is true not only in case of cooking but in every spheres of life that calls in for a little challenge. My experience of making dhoka is somewhat similar.
Dhoka or spicy lentil cakes is traditionally made from split chana dal (bengal gram/split chick pea lentils), is smeared in mildly spiced aromatic curry. We call it Dalna, a thin curry which gets aromatic from the use of ginger, hing or asafoetida , cumin along with few other ingredients and spices.
Dhoka or lentil cakes have always been one of my favourite vegetarian dishes since childhood. It is infact after significant trial and error that I have mastered the art of making prefect dhokas. And when you can create your favourite things after a lot of hardwork and patience especially miles away from home it is indeed a milestone. A Very Happy me! Simply delighted to share my experience of making these delicacies with you all and I know, you can do it too!
So the plan is to take one step at a time. I have split the post into two parts. In first part ,we will learn how to make perfect Dhokas or Lentil Cakes using step wise pictures until the next post where we will learn more about making the curry or the dalna and smearing these deliciously spicy cakes and savouring them.

If you are doing it for the first time or think it's too hard then take a deep breath, keep calm and follow the steps with picture demonstration. Take it easy and I can promise that with some practice and patience you will get it right just as I did.

The only twist that I added to these traditional cakes are the green peas. The combined taste and flavour of the green peas and the lentils is to die for. However, you will follow the same technique to make traditional dhokas that uses lentils alone. 

To make my version of  Green Pea and Lentil Cake or Koraishutir Dhoka you will need :

2 cups Chana dal/cholar dal (Bengal gram/spit chickpea lentils)- soaked overnight
11/2 cups of Green peas (if using frozen soak them in lukewarm water)

3-4 green chillies
2 dried red chillies
1/2 a bunch coriander leaves chopped (stems included)
few pinches hing or asafoetida

ginger 3/4 of the thumb size grated or sliced
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
few pinches of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
4-5 tablespoons of mustard oil for cooking the batter.
extra mustard oil for deep frying (you may use any other oil)
Salt to taste
Sugar to balance ( I added lil under 1/4 teaspoon)


Step 1:Put all ingredients mentioned above (except hing or asafoetida) in a blender. Adding very little water (just enough to help with blending) blend all ingredients into a paste like consistency. It is important to have few whole grains of lentils into the mixture while the spices and herbs are broken down completely. So do not worry about making a very smooth paste.

The batter should look something like the picture below. Remember we are not talking very runny consistency here so please add water judiciously while blending. The little whole grains of the dal still remaining (after blending) will help us to achieve the right texture of the cakes by letting oil into and helping them to cook through while deep frying making them light and crunchy.

If your paste turns very smooth you may throw in a few grains of split lentils (just about 1 tablespoon) you have used. Mix with the batter. Don't worry as they will cook through when you fry them.. that's a cheeky trick that I sometimes do if my batter turns out to be very smooth in the blender :P:D

Step 2:Take a thick bottomed pan preferably a wok and heat oil on medium flame. Add hing or asafoetida.(see picture below). The right amount of oil is very necessary at this stage. It will help the batter to cook evenly and keep it moist and of perfect texture. So use your eyes to measure the amount you will need.. not too less and not too much.

Step 3: Lower the flame. Add the lentil and green pea mixture into the hot oil. Lower the flame and slowly start cooking the mixture moving it from the bottom of the pan upward and vice versa. Leave it for awhile uncovered but do not forget to stir it at frequent interval to avoid burning or the batter drying out too fast.
Step 4: After about 5-6 mins this is what you will achieve.(see picture below) Although the moisture has evaporated, it still needs some more cooking and sautéing in order to bind together into  a moist sticky mixture or a ball.(time may vary depending on the cooking technique and utensils used).Keep the flame low and have patience.
keep scraping the bottom of the pan preferably with a stainless steel spatula (wooden ones are fine too) to scrape out the sticky bits and blend them with the rest of the mixture in the pan that is still moist.
Step 5
After about another 5-6 mins of cooking here is what you will get.(picture below) The watery bits have gone and the mixture looks quiet sticky but yet moist. Remember scraping the bottom of the pan and bringing everything together in the form of a ball.

Step 6:Grease a rimmed stainless steel bowl or a plate with little oil.

Step 7:Pour in the cooked batter.

Step 7:With the help of a spatula or preferably your hands press the batter around side of one edge of the plate just as in the picture. Allow to cool completely and if you have time in your hand refrigerate (even it is for half an hour, the more the better). This will help the batter to set well, prevent breaking and help you to cut out neat slices. 
STEP 8: Remove from refrigerator and cut out neat slices. Any crumbs from the slices or sticky bits from the pan you may preserve to add to the curry later.
Step 9: Heat oil in your deep fryer or a deep bottomed pan. The oil will have to be red hot and of right temparature. To test throw in a tiny peace , if it immediately floats on top your oil is ready for frying. Note that if the oil is not hot enough your cakes will break and crumble.
Fry the lentil squares one or two at a time. When they look golden on one side flip and fry the other end. It should take 1-2 mins each side. Remove from hot oil and drain in a paper towel.
Repeat with the rest of the cut slices.
Always remember the oil needs to be very hot everytime you slide in the cakes. If they brown too fast or burn reduce heat to medium and crank up the heat to achieve the right temp before the next batch goes into the oil.
Fry only one or two at a time, else the temperature of the oil will fall and the cakes may break apart.

Transfer these crispy crunchy golden beauties into a serving bowl. Savour these munchies as is  or preserve them to dunk into the 'dalna' or the curry. Recipe of the curry will be shared shortly! 

Till then stay with us.
Let me know how you like my recipes. Take a moment to leave a feedback. Thank you for your time and visit. "LIKE" my page on facebook. for regular updates. See you soon with some more mouth watering delicacies.Take care , eat well and be happy!

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