Thursday, April 21, 2011

Delicious Dal Dhokli

Chilly temperatures always call for especially delicious treats and comfort foods. And last week, while it was snowing like no tomorrow, I decided to treat us to some hearty Dal Dhokli. While Dal Dhokli is basically a Gujarati dish, similar dishes are made in Rajasthan, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh too. The seasoning in the various versions differs, and I will blog other version @ Annarasa too!! Dal Dhokli was particularly popular in Mumbai where I spent part of my childhood.

I tasted Dal Dhokli the first time when I visited a school friends home. One taste and I was hooked! On my insistence, the dish was cooked every so often at home. Much as I enjoyed eating Dal Dhokli, I never had the chance to cook it in India. But my passion for food ensured that I carried the recipe with me. Yet, that's really no good - as I hardly ever follow a recipe. I work the ingredients available or from a combination of memory and taste. Memory of my Mum's kitchen (did I tell you she is a superlative cook!) and the taste of food I've enjoyed. I tend to innovate, tweak recipes to improve flavour, and taste all the time. I believe my version is somewhat different from the usual preparations of Dal Dhokli - you will see why :)

2 cups toor dal (pigeon peas)
2 tbsp moongphalli  (raw peanuts)
1 onion, finely sliced
1 tomato, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger, freshly grated
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp imli (tamarind)
2 tsp gur (jaggery)
11/2 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)
1/2 tsp lal mirch, peesi (red chilli powder)
Salt to taste

For Dhoklis:
1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour)
1/2 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
1/2 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)
1/2 tsp lal mirch, peesi (red chilli powder)
1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
1/2 tsp zeera (cumin seeds)
2 tbsp Kasuri Methi (Dried Fenugreek Leaves)
2 tsp oil
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp ajwain (carom seeds)

For Tempering:
1/2 tsp rai (mustard seeds)
1/4 tsp zeera ( cumin seeds)
2 lavang (cloves)
1/2" piece dal chini (cinnamon stick)
1 tej patta (bay leaf)
2 lal mirch,sabut (dried red chillies)
1/4 tsp hing (asafetida)
1 tbsp Ghee (clarified butter)
6-8 kari patta (curry leaves)

To Season:
2-3 nimboo (key limes), cut into halves

  1. First wash the dal and peanuts and cook them in water with 1/2 tsp turmeric and a pinch of salt. Allow the dal to cook itself into a soft mush.
  2. While the dal cooks prepare the dhoklis. Mix the flours, spices, kasuri methi, and salt together. Rub the dough with both your hands so that all the ingredients are well mixed.
  3. Add the oil to this mix, and using hands rub it into the flour as you would for pastry.
  4. Add just enough water to knead this mix into a semi-hard dough. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into 6 smaller portions and roll each out into thin chappatis.
  6. Cut the rolled dough into squares or diamonds. Set the dhokli aside.
  7. Heat the ghee in a wide bottomed pan. Add all the tempering ingredients, and stir until the mustard seeds pop and you begin to get the mellow fragrance of blended spices.
  8. Add the sliced onions and fry till they turn golden brown. Now add the tomatoes, ginger, green chillies, cilantro, and stir for a few minutes. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, jaggery, and tamarind paste, and blend all the ingredients well.
  9. Add 3 cups of water to this mix, and simmer for at least 10 minutes. Next add the dal and bring to a boil.
  10. Lower the heat on the dal, add the salt, and then start adding the dhokli to this mix. Add only one at a time and stir as you add them. This will stop them from sticking to each other.
  11. Once all the dhokli are added, cook the dal dhokli for around 10 minutes, stirring continuously. The dal will thicken and the dhokli cooking in this delicious mix will soak in sweetness of the jaggery and the piquant flavour of the spices and tamarind.
  12. Serve steaming hot with key lime juice!
Vegan Substitute: Skip the Ghee in this recipe to get a delicious vegan version of Dal Dhokli.
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