Yes, it’s true this is one of the easiest things you’ll make and also one of the most different. It is also completely wheat and gluten-free which is why I made it today. I’ve just been eating way to much of these Spanish white bread rolls here and felt I needed a break.
Sometimes, I really catch myself wanting great new finds to be harder, more complicated, something that only a chef with the skills could execute. But more than wanting this acclaim I have always wanted more to de-mystify the process of cooking to show that it is a lot simpler and quicker than most people think.
If this didn’t keep my ego in check, it’s lucky I have Theresa. Who needs attempts at humility and self-reflection when you have a woman by your side to do it for you? For example, after watching Gordon Ramsey’s latest series I noticed that he demanded all other chefs working in his kitchen to pretty much always answer him “yes chef”. I rather liked this and hesitantly asked Theresa if she would agree to follow suit. It wasn’t well received.
I think of Dhokla as kind of between a cake and a bread consistency though it couldn’t so much be compared to either. The closest comparison I know would be a moist cornbread. At least that’s what I thought when I first bought a piece from an Indian stall at Broadway Market in London. I have to say, at first I was disappointed. The chickpea flour doesn’t render the sweetness of a cornbread which is kind of muffin-like at it’s best. However. all you need is the right curry for the Dhokla’s much more savoury and complex flavours to come into their own. Something saucy; I had it with a kidney bean Rajma which I would say was pretty much perfect.
Dhokla (12 pieces) adapted from Lord Krishna’s Cuisine by Yamuna Devi
3/4 cup chickpea flour
2 Green chillies (seeded and minced)
1″ piece of ginger (peeled and minced)
1/4 tsp tumeric
Pinch of asafoetida
2 tbs ghee or oil
2/3 cup yoghurt or buttermilk
1/2 tsp brown sugar or jaggery
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 Tbs coconut (grated fresh or dry)
1 tbs fresh chopped coriander
1. Sift the chickpea flour with tumeric, asafetida salt and pepper. Add the yoghurt, chillies, ginger, sugar and 1 tablespoon of oil. Mix well. You should have a very thick batter at this point. Cover and leave outside in a warm place overnight or for at least 8 hours.
2. When you are ready to steam the Dhokla set up the apparatus for steaming. Basically, you need something to hold a Cake Pan inside a large Saucepan with a lid. I actually use a steamer and rest the pan on top of this – but it does mean you need quite a deep pan.
3. Fill up the pan 1″ deep with water and bring to the boil. Grease the dhokla tin with the remaining oil. As you are doing so, stir in the baking powder into the dhokla along with the water. Stir in one direction until the batter starts to fizz with the yoghurt reacting with the baking soda.
4. Pour the batter into the tin and place in the saucepan. Cover and steam for 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the dhokla when tested. You may need a few minutes more or less. Check after 8 minutes.
5. Take out the finished bread and set it aside, loosely covered with a tea towel for 10 minutes more. Whilst you are waiting, heat another tablespoon of oil and when hot fry the mustard seeds. Pour over the dhokla and then sprinkle over the coconut and coriander. Cut into wedges and serve hot or at room temperature.