Light and spongy, salty, sweet and spicy – dhokla is a very popular appetizer prepared in the state of Gujarat in the Western region of India. The basic recipe for dhokla uses chickpea flour, rice flour, or semolina (cream of wheat) that are combined with yogurt and spices to form a thick batter. This batter is then steamed until a spongy cake of sorts is formed which is then cut into bite-size pieces and lightly pan-fried with mustard seeds. Served as an appetizer with mint chutney these are delicious cake-like savory bites.
My friend Nishma hands-down makes the best dhoklas I have ever had! First off let me start off by mentioning that Nishma is an amazing cook – just amazing! Mostly it’s her Indian cuisine that I covet specifically her Gujarati dishes, but really one can’t go wrong with anything Nishma cooks – she is just an awesome cook! I had her delectable dhoklas as an appetizer when Nishma and Kamal hosted a post-Diwali/Pre-Thanksgiving dinner for a small group of their friends last year. Wonderfully flavored, light and spongy, these dhoklas tasted outstanding.
A look at a few pictures from Nishma and Kamal’s pre-Thanksgiving dinner.
Kids were keeping busy with board games all night.
Can’t have a dinner party without a few laughs 😀😄😀
A 50-year-old recipe passed down from Mother to daughter.
Usually dhokla can be difficult to master, as the steamed bites can be rather dense and not as light and airy as you want them. There is a science to get that right consistency, and I should know! I asked Nishma for her recipe and tried making dhoklas at home only to have them turn out dense and not so great 🙁. So I asked Nishma if she could show me how to make these savory bites and last week I stopped by her place for a dhokla making-cooking lesson.
As it turns out what I found out as we were cooking together is that this recipe is Nishma’s Mom’s recipe that her Mom has been making for over fifty years! Can’t go wrong with a recipe that’s been around for over five decades. Here is a recipe for delicious spongy, sweet and salty cream of wheat savory bites called dhoklas courtesy of my friend Nishma. Give it a try!
Cream of Wheat Dhokla
recipe contributed by Nishma
- 1 cup cream of wheat- coarse
- 2 tbsp chickpea flour
- 3 tbsp yogurt
- 1 inch piece of ginger grated
- 1 tsp green chili ground into a paste or very finely cut; remove the seeds to keep it mild.
- 2-3 cloves garlic ground into a paste
- 1 tsp lemon juice for a hint of sourness
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- Sprinkle of chili powder or paprika
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- First boil water in a large pot. Place a metal bowl or stand in the pot with the water. Oil a stainless steel plate or use an aluminum pie pan. Place the oiled pie pan on top of the bowl in the pot. Cover the pot and leave the stove on so the water continues to stay hot.
- Cook’s Notes: Have all the ingredients ready, as the best way to assure that these dhoklas turn out light and fluffy is to mix the ingredients and immediately steam them right away.
- Get ready to make the dhokla batter. Remember; don’t start this process until you are ready to steam them right away! In a small bowl add the semolina, the chickpea flour, yogurt, salt, sugar, turmeric, garlic paste, chili paste, lemon juice and ginger paste. Mix all the ingredients together until well incorporated.
- Next start adding water a little at a time (about a tbsp at a time) to make the dough more of a thick pancake batter consistency. Taste the dough and add more salt if needed. Lastly, add the baking soda and mix into the cream of wheat.
- Cook’s Notes: You should start seeing tiny bubbles forming once the baking soda is added, this is what assures that the dhoklas will turn out fluffy – its the baking soda reacting with the acidity in the yogurt that activates the soda. Once the baking soda is added it is important to cook the batter right away to get that spongy dhokla!
- Immediately pour the thick batter into the oiled pie pan. Sprinkle with paprika or chili powder. Close the pot and steam the dhoklas for 20 minutes. Turn the stove off and let the dhokla continue to sit in the pot for 5 more minutes.
- Take the pie pan out and cool completely about 10 minutes before cutting into bite size pieces.
- Transfer the dhokla onto a platter and serve with any hot sauce of your choice.
- Optional: You can also garnish the dhokla with a mustard oil with sesame seeds and cilantro. To do this warm 2 tsp oil and add the mustard seeds. Let them pop and then add the sesame seeds and toast in the oil for a few seconds until the sesame seeds turn a light golden brown. Then evenly spread the mustard seeds and sesame seed oil over the dhoklas and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Try making semolina dhoklas for your next dinner gathering. Served with a side of cilantro mint chutney or hot sauce, these are sure to be a hit 😋.