Pratibha’s Dhokla

In honor of my visit to Nani’s Kitchen (literally), Nani’s Kitchen is back!  Dhokla is a savory, fluffy, cake-like breakfast/side dish that our family has been making for generations–it is a gujarati specialty.  Nani remembers learning how to make it from her mother and mother-in-law back in Kenya, and all of her daughters continue to make it.

The interesting twist in this particular recipe is the main type of flour it uses–semolina, or cream of wheat.  For generations our family, including Nani and her daughters, used to use dhokla flour instead, which required soaking rice and split peas overnight and then grinding it.  These dhoklas were good, but did not always rise properly, and did not have the grandchildren asking for thirds and fourths, as they do now (let’s be honest, we always take seconds).

But one day about ten years ago, one of my mom’s best friends, Vasantimasi, was in town and introduced my mom to semolina flour dhoklas.   With semolina flour, dhoklas require less time generally, and they come out consistently soft, spongy, and fluffy.  Mummy has used this recipe (with some tweaks) ever since and it is slowly spreading in our family.

Perhaps the only thing that has prevented me from making dhoklas in the past is the requirement of some sort of deep container where water can boil, and where the dhokla mix (in a tray) can be elevated above the water and steamed.  However, these are so easy to make that I am willing to get creative (pressure cooker with a steel bowl perhaps?) until I upgrade to a steamer with dhokla trays, like Nani and her daughters use.

Servings: 4-6 people

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups semolina flour (coarse yellow) sooji [Note: cream of wheat works just fine]
  • 1.5 cups yogurt (plain, non-fat is fine)
  • 3 heaping tsp. crushed ginger
  • 1.5 tsp. crushed green chili (add more or less depending on the strength of the chilies)
  • 3 large serving spoons of canola oil
  • 2.5 large serving spoons of lemon juice (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp. haldi (turmeric)
  • 1 3/4 tsp.  salt
  • 1 cup water (may be less based on consistency)
  • 2 1/4 tsp. Eno (fruit salt) – used as a rising agent
  • Optional: chopped cilantro – anywhere from 2 tbs. to 1 cup

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl add all of the ingredients in a bowl, EXCEPT for the Eno (which is added right before you put the dhoklas in the steamer). 
  2. Mix and let sit for 5-10 minutes, if you have the time.  If not, continue to step 3. 
  3. In the meantime prepare your steamer.  Add enough water so that it will sit at least 1/2 an inch below your steaming trays, and then bring to a boil.
  4. Add the Eno and the cilantro to your mixture and mix.
  5. Grease the bottom and sides of the trays you’re using for steaming with about 1/2 tsp. oil.
  6. Add the mixture to the trays and sprinkle with red chili powder (hey, nothing like a little kick in the morning).
  7. Put the filled trays in the holder and place in the steamer (making sure that the water will not touch the trays).  Cover and let cook on high for 20 minutes. 
  8. When finished, cut diagonally and then diagonally again (Mummy is very particular about this–I have gotten in trouble many times for not cutting these correctly!). 
  9. Serve hot with chutney or oil with some garlic-chili mixed in. 
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