Indian

Khaman Dhokla (Fermented Chickpea Flour Cakes) From Maneet Chauhan & Jody Eddy

by:
March 10, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by LINDA XIAO
Author Notes

Dhokla is one of the most popular street snacks in the state of Gujarat, reflecting the vegetarian principles of the Jain religion. The fermented chickpea batter results in a light and airy snack that is as comforting for breakfast as it is as a midday pick-me-up. It’s important to allow enough time for the batter to ferment properly in order to guarantee dhokla’s signature fluffy texture and slightly pungent flavor note. This recipe calls for citric acid. If you have trouble sourcing it, substitute an equal amount of baking soda.

Reprinted with permission from Chaat by Maneet Chauhan and Jody Eddy copyright © 2020. Photographs by Linda Xiao. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

For more from Chef Maneet Chauhan on her love of chaats, tune into this episode of our food-meets-music podcast Counterjam. —Food52

  • Prep time 9 hours
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 8
Ingredients
  • Dhokla
  • 1 cup chickpea flour (besan)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons semolina
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pinch hing (asafetida)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped green chiles
  • Garnish
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 12 fresh curry leaves
  • 5 green chiles, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut, for sprinkling
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Make the dhokla batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour and semolina. Whisk in the sugar, ginger, hing, salt, 2½ tablespoons of oil, citric acid, and chiles. The batter should resemble a slightly fluffy sponge cake batter. If it’s too thick, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it has an airy texture. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside at room temperature for 8 hours to ferment. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 11×7-inch cake pan with oil.
  2. Fill a roasting pan that is big enough for the cake pan to fit into with 1 inch of boiling water. Pour the dhokla batter into the greased pan and use a spatula to spread into an even layer. Cover with foil, carefully place in the water bath, and transfer to the oven. Oven-steam the dhokla until it has risen, the texture is light and airy, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the garnish: In a sauté pan, heat the mustard oil over medium heat until it glistens, about 3 minutes. Add the brown and black mustard seeds, and once they begin to pop, after about 2 minutes, reduce the heat to low, add the curry leaves and chiles, and sauté until the chiles are tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, turmeric, lemon juice, sugar, and 3 tablespoons water. Remove the pan from the heat and stir until the sugar dissolves, then season to taste with salt. Use a knife to separate the dhokla from the edges of the pan. Carefully invert it onto a clean, flat work surface. Cut into 1×2-inch squares and then pour the garnish on top. Sprinkle with cilantro and coconut and serve warm or cold.
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11 Reviews

txchick57 November 11, 2020
OMG. My favorite food in the world. This would be my last meal if I were going to the electric chair tomorrow. Try them. And use the hing. They're not good without itl
 
RocketScience November 11, 2020
Something's not right with this recipe. In Step 1, it tells you to mix the dhokla batter, but with no water. That amount of oil is nowhere near enough to even moisten that amount of chickpea flour, so I can only assume there's some amount of water needed that was omitted from the recipe. So I proceeded by adding water 1 tbsp at a time as instructed until it vaguely resembled a cake batter. But though I added citric acid as instructed, it did not have an "airy" texture as described in the recipe. So I fermented it for 8 hours in hope of getting some "airiness". I did see a few bubbles here and there in the batter, but I'm not sure the fermentation really worked - it looked nothing like my fermented dosa batter, which usually develops tons of bubbles. I oven-steamed as instructed and came out with a very dense, flat cake with no airiness or volume.

It does taste good, what with the hing and the flavorful spiced topping. However, it looks like something is missing in the directions, because I saw no sign of "airiness". Maybe I'm wrong, because I've never had dhokla before, but I got a much denser result than I was led to expect by the recipe. I'm also inclined to question why the recipe suggests substituting baking soda (an alkali) if you don't have citric acid. They are very different substances with opposing pHs. Perhaps if I'd used baking soda I would have achieved some volume (though I would have neutralized the acid and after leaving it for 8 hours the gas would probably have dissipated).
 
RocketScience November 11, 2020
Something's not right with this recipe. In Step 1, it tells you to mix the dhokla batter, but with no water. That amount of oil is nowhere near enough to even moisten that amount of chickpea flour, so I can only assume there's some amount of water needed that was omitted from the recipe. So I proceeded by adding water 1 tbsp at a time as instructed until it vaguely resembled a cake batter. But though I added citric acid as instructed, it did not have an "airy" texture as described in the recipe. So I fermented it for 8 hours in hope of getting some "airiness". I did see a few bubbles here and there in the batter, but I'm not sure the fermentation really worked - it looked nothing like my fermented dosa batter, which usually develops tons of bubbles. I oven-steamed as instructed and came out with a very dense, flat cake with no airiness or volume.

It does taste good, what with the hing and the flavorful spiced topping. However, it looks like something is missing in the directions, because I saw no sign of "airiness". Maybe I'm wrong, because I've never had dhokla before, but I got a much denser result than I was led to expect by the recipe. I'm also inclined to question why the recipe suggests substituting baking soda (an alkali) if you don't have citric acid. They are very different substances with opposing pHs. Perhaps if I'd used baking soda I would have achieved some volume (though I would have neutralized the acid and after leaving it for 8 hours the gas would probably have dissipated).
 
RocketScience November 11, 2020
Something's not right with this recipe. In Step 1, it tells you to mix the dhokla batter, but with no water. That amount of oil is nowhere near enough to even moisten that amount of chickpea flour, so I can only assume there's some amount of water needed that was omitted from the recipe. So I proceeded by adding water 1 tbsp at a time as instructed until it vaguely resembled a cake batter. But though I added citric acid as instructed, it did not have an "airy" texture as described in the recipe. So I fermented it for 8 hours in hope of getting some "airiness". I did see a few bubbles here and there in the batter, but I'm not sure the fermentation really worked - it looked nothing like my fermented dosa batter, which usually develops tons of bubbles. I oven-steamed as instructed and came out with a very dense, flat cake with no airiness or volume.

It does taste good, what with the hing and the flavorful spiced topping. However, it looks like something is missing in the directions, because I saw no sign of "airiness". Maybe I'm wrong, because I've never had dhokla before, but I got a much denser result than I was led to expect by the recipe. I'm also inclined to question why the recipe suggests substituting baking soda (an alkali) if you don't have citric acid. They are very different substances with opposing pHs. Perhaps if I'd used baking soda I would have achieved some volume (though I would have neutralized the acid and after leaving it for 8 hours the gas would probably have dissipated).
 
txchick57 November 11, 2020
They come out sort of like cornbread. Looking at that recipe, I'd cut the sugar just bit.
 
txchick57 November 11, 2020
you can also use something called Eno Fruit Salt, available at any Indian grocer .
 
txchick57 November 11, 2020
I know what's missing. Yogurt. That is what adds moisture. I use half yogurt and half sour cream. That was a trick I learned at Kalachandjis, a restaurant run by the Krishna Temple. They make the best dhoklas on planet earth
 
RocketScience November 11, 2020
Thanks for the restaurant recommendation. Mine definitely did not come out like cornbread - it was almost like a dense clay, very little crumbliness and no lift at all. Adding yogurt & baking soda sounds like it would give the texture you describe. I'll try that next time - do you have any suggestions about the amounts?
 
txchick57 November 11, 2020
a third cup of yogurt and same of sour cream

When made correctly they are quite light and fluffy If someone gave me one like concrete, I would toss it

https://showmethecurry.com/appetizers/khaman.html
 
txchick57 November 11, 2020
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKDZjKDph64
 
Nancy November 11, 2020
Thanks for the recipe reference, yogurt & sour cream info & site link...looks and sounds very good