Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dhokar Dalna

 This recipe invokes mixed feeling for me. One part of my heart feel elated just mentioning about it and other part becomes sad, a kind of void inside me. When I recall a sweet memory, I saw an old fragile figure earnestly grinding the lentil paste over sheel nora and then making/frying dhoka (lentil cake squares) over hot skillet or tava. And then again making the ada bata  ( ginger paste ) on Sheel nora.She would then ask us to taste the freshly fried dhokas, hot and soft straight from that tava.If you would ask me about that old fragile lady, I would say that was my grand mother “thamma” for you. Though she had helping hands or maids to do daily chores even then it comes to making this recipe, she would end up making it,all by herself from scratch. As this is what her beloved husband, her children and her grandchildren liked to eat. And believe me if I have half of the energy level she had, I would have gone to make dhokar dalna every once in a fortnight. We as modern generation are lagging way behind if we end up comparing the enthusiasm and dedication our old generations have for life and its nitty-gritty.

The recipe that I am sharing here is her way of making dhokar dalna.However, if she would have seen me adding arhar dal; she would have yelled at me- “No, you don’t add arhar dal to dhokar dalna”. My grandpa “Dadu” was very fond of this vegetarian preparation. I now recall their sweet and mock fighting over being Bangal and Ghoti. Yeah, my thamma was Bangal and Dadu was pure Ghoti.And we inherited both the traits. If you ask me to separate out Bangal traits and Ghoti traits, I can’t as it’s not possible for me; it’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite kid.
Many would say dhokar dalna is a Bangal preparation or may be vice verse. But if you really ask me, it really doesn’t matter which is what or may be what not. What matters is the end product which of course is just divine, rustic and flavorful, bursting with loads of flavor and core traditional food at your dinning table.

Dhokar Dalna 
Recipe Requirements ( Serves- 5-6 )
2 cups of cholar dal/chana dal
1 cup of toor dal/arhar dal
2-3 medium size onions
3-4 garlic
1 inch ginger root
2 medium tomatoes
3-4 green chilies
2 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
2 tsp of red pepper powder
½ tsp of hing (asfoetida)
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of sugar
 1tsp of cumin seeds
2-3 tej pata
½ cup of oil for frying the dhokas and for making the gravy
2 medim size potato cut into cubes

Wash the lentils-cholar dal,toor daal with several changes of water.Soak the lentils in ample water for about 4-5 hrs or overnight.
Now possibly you can grind the soaked dal with few tsp of grated ginger (ada) and few green chilies (kancha lonka).But I have done this time a different way. I happen to grind the lentils first and then grinded the onion (peyanj), garlic ( loshon) and ginger root( ada)  with of course 3-4 green chilies (kancha lonka).When the onion/garlic/ginger paste was done, added half of the paste to the grinded lentil paste and reserved other half for the gravy.
If you feel blender is stuck and is not rotating smoothly, add little bit of water to rotate the blades, but make sure you don’t add much water. We want a thick lentil paste. Adjust it with salt later on.
Now either way you can fry this lentil paste in a kadhai with loads of oil or what I did like frying them over a skillet/tava with less oil as this is how my grandmother used to do. Spread the paste evenly over skillet/tava.Drop oil at the sides of the lentil cake with small spoon. Cover the lentil cake with a bigger vessel and let it cook for 10-15 mints.
Now cut the lentil cakes in diamond or square shape whatever way you prefer. Drop some more oil over the lentil squares and fry them well slowly on med-high heat over skillet. When they are easily released from the skillet and can slide over it, take them off from the skillet and let it cool over a separate plate.
In a big saucepan or kadhai, add cooking oil,evenly fry the potato cubes.Take them out.
Add some more oil , and temper the cooking oil with cumin seeds and tej patta. Now add in the reserved moshla paste of onions, garlic and ginger. If you want to make niramish Dhokar dalna then add only ginger paste or ada bata and avoid onion and garlic.
Fry them well for 4-5 mints at med-high flame, now add all the dry seasonings-
Turmeric powder (holod), red pepper powder (laal lonka goron), coriander powder (dhone goron), cumin powder (jeerey goron) and asafetida (hing).
Add about half cup of water so that dry ingredients don’t get burnt. Keep on frying till the moshla gets properly distributed. Now add in finely chopped tomatoes. Fry well till tomatoes are mashed and well cooked. Add in fried potato cubes; coat the fried potatoes cubes well with this fried moshla/masala.
Add about 2 cups of water, depending on the gravy you want. If you want a makha-mkaha gravy or semi dry gravy adding this much of water is sufficient. Or if you want patla gravy then add more water. Cover the pan and let it cook or till the potato cubes are cooked.
Slowly release fried dhoka (lentil cake squares) in to the gravy and let it cook for 2-3 mints. Take it off from the flame and keep it covered.Dhokas will absorb all the gravy so at this time add little bit more warm water. Keep it covered for few mints more. The lentil cakes will turn out soft. Serve with garam bhaat or with roti, whatever way you prefer.

Traditionally dhokar dalna is made with cholar dal, as I was running short of this dal so end up using arhar dal.More arhar dal helped in binding the dhokas well.
To make niramish preparation of dhokar dalna avoid, using peyanj ( onion)  and roshon (garlic) .However ada  bata ( ginger paste ) can be used and all moshla can be added.
Add 2 tsp of ghee and 1 tsp of garam moshla at the end to enhance the flavor.

Happy Cooking Friends and wish all of you a very Happy Ramnabami.


  1. I share the same story Jaya. Dida was an excellent cook and some of her dishes enjoys the iconic status in our family. this is one of that.
    looks wonderful.i mostly make it sans onion-garlic.

  2. New to me,authentic recipe,loads of flavor,can just imagine the taste..thanks for sharing.

  3. Ami kokhono kokhono ektu narkel add kori ar bhaja gulo emni e khawa hoye jaye ... dalnar jonne kichu thakena.
    Darun dekhacche Jaya. .. besh makha makha. :-)

  4. Such a yum recipe! ANd nice reading about your grandparents.

  5. deliciously delicious.....

  6. yum yum, wat a super tempting dish u posted.


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