Bhapa Dhokar Dalna (Steamed Lentil Fritters with Gravy)

We all know that ‘Dhokar Dalna’ is one of the most popular Bengali dishes, where lentil paste is cooked with spices and then cut into lentil fritter/cakes. Then these cakes are deep fried and then cooked in a gravy. It is a lengthy and a bit difficult process. In this process sometimes the lentil cake or ‘Dhoka’s are broke if the lentil paste is not cooked properly. So this time I instead of cooking the lentil paste with spices, I steamed it. Later cut them in diamond shapes and then fried like a fritter. After that cooked in a gravy with spices. After steaming the lentil cake became so soft and fluffy! Here is how I cooked Bhapa Dhokar Dalna.

Ingredients to serve 4:

For making the lentil cakes:
  • ¾ cup Cholar Dal or Split and Husked Bengal Gram
  • ½ cup Matar Dal or Yellow Split Peas
  • 1 ½ tsps Ginger Paste
  • ¼ tsp Kalo Jeera or Nigella Seeds
  • 1 tsp Dry Roasted Cumin and Red Chilli powder
  • ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Mustard Oil – + for frying the fritters
  • For making the gravy:
  • 2 (Medium-Boiled) Potato
  • 1 pinch Hing or Asafetida
  • ½ tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 2 Bay Leaf
  • 2 Dry Whole Chillie
  • 2 tsps Ginger Paste
  • ½ cup Tomato Paste
  • ¾ tsp Cumin Powder
  • ½ tsp Coriander Powder
  • ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • ½ tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • ½ tsp Garam Masala Powder
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 2 Tbsps Mustard Oil
  • 1 tsp Ghee
  • To taste Salt

Steps:

  1. Wash and soak two types of dals in water for overnight or atleast for 6 hours. Grind the dals in a grinder adding water to make smooth paste.
  2. In a bowl mix in all the ingredients mentioned under for making the lentil cakes.
  3. Grease a metal pot with mustard oil and transfer the whole batter in it.
  4. Boil water in a pan and put the pot in it. Water level should cover atleast half of the pot. Cover with a lid and put something heavy on the lid so that the lentil batter gets steamed quickly.
    (The thickness of the paste should be of about 1”). It will take around 20-25 minutes on medium heat.
  5. Remove the cover after 20-25 minutes. Check if the lentil batter is cooked or not by inserting a knife in the middle. If it comes clear, it means the steamed lentil cake is ready. If not then cover and cook for another few minutes, till the lentil cake is cooked.
  6. Let it cool for some times. When it cools down completely, unmold it and cut it into diamond shapes or squares.
  7. Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry these lentil cakes. Adding 3-4 at a time fry all the lentil cakes in batches till crisp and golden brown. Drain out on kitchen paper and keep aside.
  8. Heat 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.
  9. In the same oil add bay leaf, asafetida and other whole spices. Sauté for few seconds.
  10. Now add ginger paste and when it is half cooked add tomato paste. Sauté very well.
  11. 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.
  12. Add sugar and salt.
  13. When the gravy starts boiling add fried potatoes and fried Dhokas (fried lentil cakes).
  14. 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).
  15. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add garam masala powder and ghee. Serve with steamed rice or roti.
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