‘Eat it once, love it for ever’: that would be dhokla’s slogan of choice. You might not expect to find an object of desire tucked away in a fluffy steamed chickpea bread, but what started out as a humble Gujarati snack is now one of India’s national treasures (and 1 billion Indians voting with their stomachs can’t be wrong).
It’s not difficult to make this snack, but it involves steaming, which I will guide you through. The other special ingredient you’ll need is Eno fruit salt. It is completely safe to eat and available from the pharmacy aisle of supermarkets or from an Asian grocery store.
- Yield: 6 as a snack
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil (plus extra to grease)
- 110 g chickpea (gram) flour
- 110 ml Greek yoghurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ a green finger chilli, finely sliced
- 2 cm ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 teaspoon Eno fruit salt
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 10 fresh curry leaves
- ½ tablespoon desiccated or fresh grated coconut
- a handful of chopped coriander
- First set up your steamer: either use a steamer or, if you don’t have one, find a large casserole pot with a tight lid into which you can fit a sandwich cake tin. Find something to rest the cake tin on inside the pot. I use a small glass ramekin, but you could use some scrunched-up balls of foil. Pour water halfway up whatever you’re resting your cake tin on, then lightly grease the cake tin and set to one side.
- Put the chickpea flour into a bowl and add 110 ml water, mixing it in little by little so the batter doesn’t end up lumpy. Then add the yoghurt, lemon juice, salt, green chilli, ginger and the Eno fruit salt.
- Bring the water in the casserole pot to a boil. Once boiling, tip the batter into the oiled cake tin and carefully lower into the pot. Steam for 8 minutes. You can check whether it’s done by placing a knife into the batter. If it comes out cleanly, it’s done. If not, put the lid back on for another couple of minutes. Once done, remove the cake tin and leave to cool (the dhokla will be much easier to remove).
- Just before serving, make a tarka: heat the oil in a small frying pan and, when hot, add the mustard seeds, sesame seeds and curry leaves. Fry until the mustard seeds pop and the curry leaves crackle, then take off the heat and pour over the top of the dhokla.
- Scatter over the coconut and fresh coriander, and serve.