Dhoka – Fried Lentil Cakes

Dhoka - lentil cakes

I am back! Two long months  went by in a wink and we are here with plenty of memories and experiences to last for a life time. The time fleeted by quick, almost like a dream… changes and familiarity, reconnecting with the cultures, and traditions, the joys of meeting and the tears of the farewell but with the promises to make it happen again, visiting new places which took us back in time, many many years back and getting cozy in the known corners of our lives – a beautiful amalgamation of emotions made even prettier memories.

The colors

Chittorgarh - rajasthan

Temple in Chittorgarh Fort

Kumbhalgarh - Rajasthan

Kumbhalgarh Fort at night -Above Photo by Arjun


Kolkata Park Street

Kolkata Park Street, West Bengal

rajasthan - kumbhalgarh fort

Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan

Victoria Memorial Kolkata

Victoria Memorial – Kolkata, West Bengal

kolkata collage

Dakhineshwar, West Bengal

and the music

rajasthani music

rajasthani music

will linger and satiate us until “next” time…

brass pots

terracota water pot

For now our hearts are still back home, while we are trying to fight the jet lag, unpack and get used to this awful Texas heat. Today’s recipe is from back home, made by my aunt. It is going to take me some to start cooking with the blog in mind, so I have come here today with a little piece from India.

Dhoka- bengali recipe

Dhoka is a quintessential recipe from the Eastern regions of India. This is a traditional Satvic dish which uses no garlic or onion, as widows in Bengal were (and still are in certain places) barred from eating onion and garlic. Pure vegetarian food in Bengal is usually the Satvic kind – pure, wholesome food usually practiced in yogic and religious diets.

The cakes are made with ground lentils and spices and most of the times simmered in a vegetarian gravy/sauce. When made into a curry, it is known as the Dhoka’r Dalna. I will write the curry based recipe another time. Today it is only going to be the fried cakes, and this is the way I love it best, hot from the wok as it comes our crisp and golden. I remember the special occasions on our family when the home brimmed with guests and the porch would be occupied by the cooks preparing food in really enormous amounts. We little ones would sneak up and indulge on the hot Dhoka’s as the cooks kept them aside for us.

I have to admit here that till date I have not dared to make the Dhoka myself. As delicious as they might taste, it always was the kind of recipe that I stayed away from, fearing that the cakes would not “form” right and imagined them crumbling down in the oil. This recipe is from my aunt. While at home in India this time, I made sure I had this recipe right not just for the blog, but for myself too.

Dhoka - traditional bengali lentil cake

I stood by her as she cooked and much to her frustration asked for every measurement in spoons and cups.  However she answered them all very patiently, careful more than ever when she realized that this was going to be posted in eCurry.

Watching her make the Dhoka this time, has eased my fears a tiny bit, and hopefully I will try it soon at home.

Excuse my photographs, for they were taken on the spur of the moment with no props or set up  that I am used to doing for the blog! Pure vegetarian these cakes might be, but the meaty kebab like texture will take you by surprise. Firm, but lightly spongy – Dhoka makes the perfect mouthwatering “pick me ups” to snack on.

Dhoka - recipe/how to make

Dhoka – Fried Lentil Cakes

Ingredients: (makes approx. 15 squares depending on the size they are cut into )

  1. 1 cup chana dal/split Bengal gram lentil
  2. 1/2 cup motor/matar dal/yellow split peas
  3. 2 green chili pepper
  4. 1.5 inch fresh ginger, peeled
  5. salt
  6. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  7. a generous pinch of hing (asafoetida)
  8. 2 tablespoon dry spice mix ((recipe below*)
  9. 1 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
  10. 4 tablespoons oil + more to lightly coat a plate/tray
  11. oil to deep fry

* Dry Spice Mix:

  1. 3 teaspoons red dry chili powder
  2. 2 tablespoon cumin seeds, very lightly roasted and ground into a powder

*Note: This above spice mix will make more than needed for this recipe. Store in a dry covered container for later use.


To make the dry spice mix, combine the above two ingredients and store in airtight container.

Wash and soak Bengal Gram Dal and the Yellow Split Peas in water for 4-6 hours. Drain water and grind the lentils, ginger and green chili pepper into a paste with as little water as possible. You will need less time to cook the lentils, if you use less water while grinding.

Combine the dry spice mix, turmeric powder, red chili powder if you are using and salt with the lentil paste.

Heat the oil in a wok/kadhai/pan. Add the hing/asafoetida to the hot oil and add the spiced lentil paste and cook until the mixture is  soft and sticky, but not dry. It should take about 5-7 minutes depending on the water content in the ground lentils. The consistency should be that of a  sticky paste with no extra/dripping water. The mix should easily leave the sides of the pan when done.

Coat/smear a plate or tray with some oil. Spoon of the  cooked lentil paste and spread it evenly on the plate while pressing lightly with a spatula to even out and flatten the top. The spread should be about 3/4 inch thick.  The spread should be smooth with no cracks. Allow it to cool and if needed put it in the refrigerator for half an hour, uncovered for it to get firm and have the extra water dry up if any left.  Once cooled, slice the spread into square or diamond shapes.

Heat up enough oil in a pan to deep fry the cakes. Fry at medium heat in batches in required till they are golden brown. You know you have it right when the cakes do not break or crack. Drain on paper towels and serve them hot or set aside to use them in the sauce to make a curry.

Dhoka- fried lentil cakes

My Legume Love Affair #37 proudly kicks off the 4th year this month! This is one blog event I heart and try to participate every month. The round up is always a beautiful diverse array of healthy mouthwatering dishes from around the world, which will inspire you to eat healthy and cook more often with the legumes that nature provided us with so abundantly. Dear Susan, the mother of this affair is hosting the event herself this month and this is my little contribution.

Related Posts:

Sukhi Dal/Warm Lentil Spread

Roasted Tomato and Lentil Dip

Bhaja Muger Dal/Roasted Mung Soup

Onion Pakoras/Fritters

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31 comments to Dhoka – Fried Lentil Cakes

  • Amazing consistency. I would have never guessed these were made of lentils.

  • Welcome back,i know how it feels after coming back from India,..
    pics are so colourful,..:-) and this recipe is new for me thanks for sharing..;-)

  • I have always always wanted to visit jaipur but it never happened. May be sometime later 🙂 I first thought you made dholka and I then i saw those lentils and got more confused .. then I realized you wrote Dhoka. My Mami makes awsm dhoka and it taste so good.. all the time!

  • Happy to know that you had a wonderful time back home. I was curious to know how you fried the lentils paste in beautiful squares and loved the way it is done. The pictures are beautiful and reflect the warmness of our soil.

    Hope you settle down quickly and delight us as always.

  • Welcome back Soma! The Rajasthan pictures are as gorgeos as the place itself. such vivid recollection of all your emotions and experience. great that you enjoyed it to the fullest. love. sayantani

  • I think those pictures are beautiful – even without the props or setup!

  • ohh! Soma never had Dhoka but i can just imagine the flavors! and those beautiful beautiful pictures of Rajasthan makes me so nostalgic.

  • Soma love love everything abt this post.. Cannot say which is good, so natural..awesome shots. Rajasthan pictures r simply superb. Hope u had wonderful vacation.. me too still settling to normal routine after the vacation.

  • what a great post !!! love it 😀 your photography is superb soma :)) really enjoyed reading this ….

  • Welcome back dear. Totally awesome pics, love the east and west pics together. Love this delicious dhoka recipe, amazing 🙂

  • Welcome back, SOma..nice to hear that u had a gr8 time in India. We always have gr8 time with known people except kids falling sick etc. Beautiful pics….dhoka looks too good

  • Excellent post with beautiful pictures…….enjoyed your fried dhoka and am sure it must be utterly delicious to relish, cheers, sonia !

  • anh

    welcome back Soma! Ah, and what beautiful pictures!

  • anh

    Not sure if my previous comment has disappeared?? Just wanna welcome u! 🙂

  • Welcome back Soma 🙂

    Your post and the photos made me nostalgic ‘coz both these places are very close to my heart. Great Photography!

    Fried lentil cakes looks yumm.

  • Welcome back, Soma to the foodies world…missed you a lot on twitter and FB! Those pictures say a lot about your trip. Lovely pictures. The dish look perfect and made me a bit nostalgic..

  • Nice to see you back Soma. These look so very tasty.

  • Welcome back and i loved the beautiful pictures you have captured when you wer ein India.

  • Welcome back Soma! Great pictures from your trip 🙂 Dhoklas look delicious!

  • Welcome back and thank you for sharing this lovely post. I have always enjoyed your writing not only for the recipes and photographs but also for the cultural notes.

    Thank you for for the Mango Love!

  • Welcome back! Glad to hear you had a good break with your family.

  • So glad to have you back! What wonderful images in this post, Soma.

  • Mmmm you’ve totally sucked me in with these delicious snacks and gorgeous gorgeous travel photos — welcome back!

  • Welcome back Soma beautiful beautiful pics, never have had dhoka, would love them something from roots of india 🙂

  • Welcome back dear Soma! Next time you go, please, preserve a tiny corner in your suitcase for me. Your text made me miss India even more…and the pictures. Your aunt’s dhokla looks fantastic: rustic and wholesome. When the winter comes, I will try it.

  • So good to see you back, Soma!! I make something similar but it did not have a name till now.:D I wish I could have met up with you.. maybe next time! Lovely pictures and a tasty recipe.

  • elcome back Soma and what treats you brought back with you. Vivid photos and a treat. Funny we were talking about this very dish on twitter a month or two back so Yay!! Now I got the recipe. Love all the ingredients in it and happen to have them in my pantry!

  • Beautiful pictures! And that dhoka looks delicious!

  • What delicious, savory treat bars! I love how you drain them on newspaper; it gives it a very casual touch, like fish and chips. Thanks, Soma, for adding this to the MLLA 37 round-up coming soon.

  • Archana

    Hi Soma,The recipe looks delicious, thanks for sharing ! I am allergic to Channa dal, wondering if we can use masoor dal instead of channa dal/ just use all of matar dal instead of channa dal in making Dhokas ?

    Hmmmm.. i have never used all matar dal or even masoor dal. But I do not think it will go wrong. The main taste of the recipe comes from the flavor of the chana dal and also its meaty texture. But I am assuming either masoor or matar (or a combo of the two) should work. It will not taste exactly the same, but hey what the heck! 🙂 If you try it please let me know, (or leave comment) so others in your situation might know what to do! Thank you!

  • Archana

    Thanks for your quick response, Soma. Really appreciate it ! Sorry if I am asking too many questions but also wanted to check if the dhokas can be pan fried instead of deep fried ? Sure, I am going to try these variations, will let you know how they turn out 🙂

    Don’t apologize please!!

    I just confirmed from the author of Bongmom’s Cookbook. You can use all Matar dal if you want to.

    If you do not want to pan fry, first bake to get them tightened and firm and then pan fry them. If you pan fry them straight after slicing them, they might break. This was confirmed by the above too 🙂 I have never tried it this way, but when I asked if it could be done, she mentioned that she had tried it and it works.

    Hope it helps.

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