Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dhokar dalna...lentil cake curry


Dhokar dalna is an authentic Bengali dish, where fried lentil cakes are simmered in flavorful gravy. It is a strictly vegetarian dish, sans the onion and garlic, specially made during Puja and other auspicious occasions. As a kid I used to hate Dhokar dalna. I had so many arguments with my mother regarding this particular dish. She used to force me to taste some and I was too adamant on not doing so. For some reason, the dish was a big no for me. When I grew up and found how good it tastes, I laugh recalling all those fuss I made. I'm sure with age our taste-buds also mature, the things we hated once is now loved.

If you ask me why this dish is called 'Dhokar dalna'? I have no clue. In Hindi / Bengali 'dhoka' means to cheat someone. I don't know who wanted to cheat whom with this dish.

Dhokar dalna is made from lentil paste. The lentil paste is cooked with  a few flavorful spices to form a cake. Then that cake is cut into pieces and fried. Finally the fried lentil cakes are cooked in an aromatic gravy. I'm sure from this description you already get the picture of the long process of 'dhoka' making. But the dish tastes so good and unique you won't mind the effort put into it.

Things needed to make Dhokar Dalna or Lentil Cake Curry:


For the lentil cake:
  • Bengal gram (cholar dal): 1 cup
  • Yellow split pea (motor dal): 1 cup
  • Ginger paste: 1 inch piece
  • Asafoetida (hing): a pinch
  • Green chili: 2-3 (optional)
  • Black seed (kalojire): 2 tsp
  • Cumin powder: 2 tsp
  • Red chili powder: 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Oil: 1 tbsp + little to grease
  • Oil to deep fry


For the gravy:
  • Bay leaves: 2-3
  • Cinnamon stick: 1 stick
  • Green cardamom: 4-5
  • Cloves: 4-5
  • Dry red chili (whole): 2-3
  • Tomato: 1 large 
  • Yogurt: 1/2 cup
  • Red chili powder: 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder: 2 tsp
  • Coriander powder: 2 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Ghee: 1 tbsp
  • Oil: 3-4 tbsp


Steps of making Dhokar Dalna or Lentil Cake Curry:


1. It is best to use bengal gram and yellow split pea in 1:1 ratio for the best result. Soak both the dal for at least 6 hrs. I prefer to do it overnight. After a proper soaking, wash the dal well. Make a paste of the dal, asafoetida, ginger and green chilies (if using). Try to use as less water as possible while making the paste. And rather than making a creamy smooth paste, make a little coarse paste.


2. In a wide mouth deep pan heat 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil is hot, reduce heat and add the black seeds (kalojire). Add the lentil paste, salt, sugar, turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder, cook over low heat. Keep stirring continuously. Keep cooking till the lentil paste comes together and starts to leave the sides. Do not overcook. Make sure the bottom is not scorching. It is easier using a non-stick utensil for this particular step.

3. Take a flat plate or baking tray, grease that with little oil. As soon as you finish cooking the lentil paste, transfer the cooked lentil paste to the greased container and with a spatula level the paste. Let it cool down for 10 min.


4. After it cools down, cut cubes or any shape of your choice. It will be like 'Burfi'.




5. In a deep pan or kadhai heat enough oil for deep frying. Deep fry the lentil cakes to golden brown. Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat and fry the lentil cakes over a medium heat. Take out and keep on paper towel lined plate. These fried lentil cakes are called 'Dhoka'. Try some of these crispy fried lentils cakes, they are too good to resist.


6. You can make several different types of gravy for these lentil cakes. I did a very simple tomato-yogurt based gravy. For making the gravy, heat 3-4 table spoon of oil in a pan. When the oil is hot add bay leaves, whole red chilies, cinnamon stick, green cardamom, cloves, cook for 1-2 min or till the spices release a nice aroma. Add ginger paste and seeded, chopped tomatoes, cook till tomatoes are done. Add red chili powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and cook for 3-4 min. As the spices are cooking, beat the yogurt with little sugar and water. Add the beaten yogurt, lower the heat and cook till there is no raw smell of yogurt. Add salt and sugar, mix well. Add a cup of hot water and let it boil, as it boils add the fried lentil cakes, ghee and garam masala powder. Cover and cook over low heat for 5-6 min. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve hot with pulao, luchi, roti, paratha.

You can make the fried lentil cakes and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Just before serving make the gravy and dunk in the lentil cakes. To bring richness to the gravy you can add cashew paste or melon seed paste while cooking and garnish with fresh cream.



Print Recipe
Dhokar Dalna (Lentil Cake curry)
(Serves: 6-8)
Ingredients for the lentil cake:
Bengal gram (cholar dal): 1 cup
Yellow split pea (motor dal): 1 cup
Ginger paste: 1 inch piece
Asafoetida (hing): a pinch
Green chili: 2-3 (optional)
Black seed (kalojire): 2 tsp
Cumin powder: 2 tsp
Red chili powder: 2 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Oil: 1 tbsp + little to grease
Oil to deep fry
Procedure of making the lentil cake:
1. Soak the lentils overnight, wash well. Make a paste with asafoetida, ginger and green chilies.
2. In a pan heat a table spoon of oil, add black seeds, and the lentil paste. Add dry spice powder and salt and sugar.
3. Keep stirring continuously, till the lentil paste starts to leave the sides.
4. Grease a flat plate, transfer the hot lentil paste and let cool down. Cut into cubes.
5. Heat oil for deep frying, deep fry the lentil cakes to golden brown. Take out and keep aside.
Ingredients for the gravy:
Bay leaves: 2-3
Cinnamon stick: 1 stick
Green cardamom: 4-5
Cloves: 4-5
Dry red chili (whole): 2-3
Tomato: 1 large 
Yogurt: 1/2 cup
Red chili powder: 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Cumin powder: 2 tsp
Coriander powder: 2 tsp
Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Ghee: 1 tbsp
Oil: 3-4 tbsp
Procedure of making the gravy:
1. Heat oil in pan, add bay leaves, whole red chili and other whole spices, cook for 1-2 min.
2. Add ginger paste.
3. Add seeded and chopped tomato, cook till tomatoes are done.
4. Add dry spice powder. Cook.
5. Add beaten yogurt, cook for 5-6 min.
6. Add salt and sugar.
7. Add a cup of hot water, add the fried lentil cakes, ghee, garam masala powder. Cook for 5-6 min, serve hot.


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20 comments:

  1. This is one of my favourite dishes. I had it first time in my workplace canteen and fell in love with it.

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  2. Wow.. Woww.. Wowwww... Looks so amazing dear.. Wonderful presentation.. AWESOME :)

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  3. Awesome looking curry.Looks like large pieces of fried fish in the curry .That could even be the reason behind the name too :))cheating fish lover :))

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    1. Yes Meena, even I thought so, as this particular dish comes from the bengali widow kitchen, where thinking about fish, meat etc are prohibited.

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  4. wow simply drooling here what an amazing recipe...

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  5. Interesting right, the things that we hate as a child turns out be some of our favorites. This looks so good, and quite new to me.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. What a great recipe. Is it called Dhoka- because it has a meaty texture yet is meatless?
    Do you reduce the heat when adding yogurt? How do u keep it from splitting?

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    1. Manasi, yeah I think so, what else could be the reason. And for the yogurt part I follow few things, I take out the required amount of yogurt before I start cooking to bring to room temperature, then I add little water ans sugar to the yogurt and beat it. And while adding it to the pan I reduce the heat to lowest. This works for me always.

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  7. Tumi paro-o bawtey. Amar toh dhokar dalna banate hawbey shunlei gaye jawr ashe. :( Dhoka gulo topatop kheye phelte ichche korchhe.

    On a different note: I think the term dhoka comes from cheating people with the dish as the pieces resemble chunk of fish or meat and it is prepared in a rich way too (even without onion and garlic). It substitutes the protein part of the animal diet also.

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    Replies
    1. Soma ami kintu once in a year banai. Aar bhaja dhoka amio topatop kheychi koyekta :)

      I think you should dig a little more about the name dhoka, though I think too it is because the dish fakes the meat or fish appearance.

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  8. Very nice recipe, never seen anything like that before.. I can imagine how the taste must be crispy and tangy.. lovely texture and very inviting pics

    glad to follow you ! :)

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  9. Love this recipe...wonderful. I have tasted it and it smells a lot like fish but its really very tasty.

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  10. Such a yummy looking one.. Something new to me, looks spectacular with those lovely pics !

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