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.
Temple in Chittorgarh Fort
Kumbhalgarh Fort at night -Above Photo by Arjun
Kolkata Park Street, West Bengal
Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan
Victoria Memorial – Kolkata, West Bengal
Dakhineshwar, West Bengal
and the music
will linger and satiate us until “next” time…
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 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.
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 – Fried Lentil Cakes
Ingredients: (makes approx. 15 squares depending on the size they are cut into )
- 1 cup chana dal/split Bengal gram lentil
- 1/2 cup motor/matar dal/yellow split peas
- 2 green chili pepper
- 1.5 inch fresh ginger, peeled
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- a generous pinch of hing (asafoetida)
- 2 tablespoon dry spice mix ((recipe below*)
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
- 4 tablespoons oil + more to lightly coat a plate/tray
- oil to deep fry
* Dry Spice Mix:
- 3 teaspoons red dry chili powder
- 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.
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.