‘Dhokar Dalna’ is one of the most popular traditional vegetarian Bengali cuisine like ‘Shukto’, Niramish Mochar Ghonto’, Cholar Dal’ et al. This is a completely no onion no garlic ‘Satwik’ preparation. The only drawback is the lengthy procedure of making ‘Dhoka’. These lentil cakes are made from lentil pastes. First lentil paste is cooked with some Indian spices, then shaped in square or diamond shape. Again they are deep fried in oil and then dunked in masala gravy.
I find similarity in ‘Dhoka’ with ‘Badeel’ of Uttarakhand. The only difference I found is ‘Dhoka’ is made with ‘Chana Dal’ mainly (though I mix Matar Dal of ¼ quantity with Chana Dal, to get better texture) and served with tomato and ginger based curry but ‘Badeel’ is made traditionally with whole ‘Masoor Dal’ and served as a snack. The other difference is that in ‘Badeel’ onion and garlic is used in the paste whereas ‘Dhoka’ is done without onion and garlic.
Making ‘Dhoka’ is easy but there are few things to keep in mind. While grinding the ‘dals’, use just enough water to make a smooth paste. If the mixture is too dry, the lentil cakes will become crumble when you fry them. Here goes the recipe of ‘Dhokar Dalna’ from my kitchen!
For making the lentil fritters:
- Cholar Dal or Split and Husked Bengal Gram – 1cup
- Matar Dal or Yellow Split Peas – ¼ cup
- Freshly Grated Coconut – 2 Tbsp
- Hing or Asafetida – 1 Fat pinch
- Ginger Paste – 1 tsp
- Salt – To taste
- Kalo Jeera/Nigella Seeds – ¼ tsp
- Dry Roasted Cumin and Red Chillie powder – ½ tsp
- Mustard Oil – 1 Tbsp + For frying the fritters
For making the gravy:
- Potato – 2 (Medium-Boiled)
- Cumin Seeds – ½ tsp
- Bay Leaf – 2
- Cinnamon – 1” Stick
- Green Cardamom – 2
- Clove – 2
- Dry Whole Chillie – 2
- Ginger Paste – 2 tsp
- Tomato Paste – ½ cup
- Cumin Powder – ½ tsp
- Coriander Powder – ½ tsp
- Turmeric Powder – ½ tsp
- Red Chillie Powder – ½ tsp
- Garam Masala Powder – ¼ tsp
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Mustard Oil – 2 Tbsp
- Ghee – 1 tsp
- Salt – To taste
- Freshly Grated Coconut – For garnishing
- Wash and soak two types of dals in water for about overnight or atleast for 6 hours. Grind the dals in a grinder adding water to make smooth paste.
- Heat oil in a kadai or pan. Add nigella seeds and asafetida and sauté till you get the fragrance.
- Now add the ginger paste and sauté for few seconds.
- Next add the grinded dal paste and stir continuously. Add salt. Keep on stirring till the paste thickens. It will stick to the bottom of the pan so keep on stirring continuously. When it releases from the sides of the pan it is ready.
- Now add the roasted jeera and chilli powder and grated coconut. Mix well.
- Grease a big plate and spread the cooked paste on it evenly. The thickness of the paste should be of about 1”. Let it cool for some times. When it cools down completely, cut it into diamond shapes or squares.
- Heat oil in a kadai to deep fry these lentil cakes. Adding 3-4 at a time fry all the lentil cakes in batches till crisp and golden brown. Drain out of kitchen paper and keep aside.
- Heat up 2 Tbsp of oil in another pan. Cut the potatoes into halves and lightly fry the boiled potatoes till they turn golden in colour. Drain from oil and keep them aside.
- In the same oil add bay leaf and other whole spices. Sauté for few seconds.
- Now add ginger paste and when it is half cooked add tomato paste. Sauté well.
- Next add all the dry spices except garam masala powder. When oil starts separating from the sides of the pan add 1 cup of water.
- Add sugar and salt.
- When the gravy starts boiling add fried potatoes and fried Dhokas (lentil fritters). Remember that these fried lentil fritters absorbs liquid. (I prefer to add them just before serving and warm them with gravy in microwave for 1-2 minutes)
- Boil for 2-3 minutes. Add garam masala powder and ghee. Garnish with grated coconut and chopped coriander. Serve with steamed rice or roti.