Today, I want to share something very special with you; my mum’s dhokla recipe. This is by far my favourite Gujarati recipe. Dhokla are very unusual and originate from the state of Gujarat, where my parents are from in India. I love sharing this dish with friends as they always love it and have never eaten anything like it before. It is so authentic and traditional to the Gujarati region.
Dhokla, or Khaman, is a savoury spicy cake that is steamed and made using split chickpeas (channa dal) or chickpea flour (gram flour). The batter/ dough is made beforehand and left to ferment overnight. It is cooked in a steamer and garnished with coconut, coriander, fresh chillies and mustard seeds. They are typically served with sev and chutney. Sev is made from chickpea flour and commonly found in Bombay mix.
There are many different dhokla recipes out there and each family will have their special way of making this savoury delight. This is my mum’s recipe that has been tried and tested and passed down through the generations.
This is not an easy recipe. It took a lot of practice for me to get it right, especially as my mum doesn’t follow a documented recipe or any strict measurements. She has the gift of cooking with intuition like most Indian women. It also takes two days to make but it’s totally worth it in my opinion. I have tried to breakdown all the steps to ensure that you can get it right first time.
The secret ingredient when making dhokla is Eno. This is a brand of antacid fruit salts that helps to relieve indigestion, flatulence and nausea. I know it’s odd to use such a thing in cooking but it can be used instead of baking powder. It is made up of sodium bicarbonate, citric acid and carbonate, the same things that are used to make baking powder.
There are three stages to making this dhokla recipe. Start with soaking the channa dal. We use channa dal instead of gram flour as it gives the batter a better texture. You can soak the dal overnight or for a few hours. Secondly, you need to mince the dal and make the batter and leave it to ferment overnight. Finally, you steam the mixture, garnish and top with tempered mustard seeds. Most of the time spent on this recipe is passive as the steaming of the chickpea cakes only take 30 minutes to cook.
The only way to serve dhokla is with a coriander and yoghurt chutney. You can also serve them with sev but it’s not essential.
Have you heard of dhokla or made them before? I would love to hear from you if you made this recipe. Leave me a comment below and share your pictures on Instagram with #prettyvegetarian.
Dhokla recipe – Savoury chickpea cake
Yield 2 people
Dhokla is a Gujarati dish made using a fermented split chickpea batter. These steamed savoury chickpea cakes are delicious! An authentic tried and tested recipe that won’t disappoint.
- 150g (⅔cup) channa dal/dried split chickpea
- 2-3 green birds eye chillies, roughly chopped
- ½ thumb-sized root of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 150g (⅗cup) plain yoghurt
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon besan/chickpea/gram flour
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon Eno
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon fresh coriander, finely chopped
- 1 fresh chilli, sliced into rings
- 1 teaspoon desiccated or fresh (grated) coconut
- Soak the channa dal in warm water, leave overnight or for at least 3 hours.
- Drain the channa dal and place in a bowl with yoghurt and birds eye chillies and ginger.
- Using a food processor, mince into a fine mixture. You might need to stir and blend the mixture 4-5 times to get the right texture. You want a thick grainy consistency.
- Add salt and chickpea flour to the mixture. If the mixture is too thick, add a little water to loosen it up. You will only need a few tablespoons, if any.
- Cover the mixture and leave in a warm place overnight. This is to allow the mixture to ferment, the longer you leave the mixture the sourer it will become. It can be left for up to two days to ferment if needed.
- Heat water in a large steamer or use a large pan with a stand which will hold a 20cm baking tray. You want the water to be shallow and lower than the baking tray. This will depend on the size of the pan.
- Lightly oil a 20cm round baking tray.
- Mix the Eno with the fermented dhokla mixture, it will start to bubble, and mix well.
- Pour the batter into the baking tray.
- Once the water has boiled, place the baking tray with the batter in the steamer and cover. Allow to cook for 30 minutes over a high heat for 15 minutes and a turn down to a medium heat for the final 15 minutes. Check that you have enough boiling water in the pan at the halfway mark.
- Remove the lid from the pan, being careful not to drop any water from the lid onto the dhokla.
- Carefully remove the baking tray and set aside.
- Cut into 3cm squares, evenly top with the coconut, coriander and chillies.
- In a small pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over a high heat for a minute.
- Add the mustard seeds.
- When the mustard seeds start popping, evenly spoon on top of the steamed dhokla.
- Serve warm or cold with coriander yoghurt dip and sev.
- See images to get an idea of the homemade steamer I have used.
- Double the recipe and freeze the mixture.
- Dhokla will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the fridge.
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 19 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Unsaturated Fat 13 g
Sodium 1788 mg
Total Carbohydrates 57 g
Dietary Fiber 10 g
Sugars 4 g
Protein 22 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.