dhokla (WHB#215: curry leaf)

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summary: recipe for dhokla with coconut chutney; information about curry leaf (Murraya koenigii) and WHB; (click on image for larger view and more photos)

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB) #215: Curry Leaf (Murraya koenigii)

dhokla Doesn’t that look gorgeous?!

A recent article about Gujarati food in SAVEUR magazine (#125) made us suddenly neeeeeed to have Gujarati food. Gujarati food sounds fabulous. There are several wonderful looking recipes in the article.

And indeed, when I mentioned it to T, he got that wistful far-away look in his eyes and started saying softly, “dhokla… is there a recipe for dhokla in the article? I used to love dhokla.” Of course, I had no idea what dhokla was. Here’s how the rest of the conversation went:

me: Nope, no dhokla. What is it?

he: I think it might be made with chickpea flour.

me: Wait!! Might it have another name? There’s a fantastic looking recipe for something called Khandvi …. (riffling through magazine to find the page) … here it is: Khandvi!

he: That does look good but (disappearing to the computer room) that’s not dhokla. (clicking on keyboard) Dhokla is… (watching video of someone making dhokla)…let’s have dhokla!! Get your coat on. We need channa dal and curry leaves!

T found several recipes for dhokla. One of them is truly wonderful to watch – so wonderful that I linked to it on etherwork discussions: …making dhokla:

Here is our favourite recipe simply because of the ingredients:

YouTube: Dhokla (Suji – Semolina)

Please make sure that you watch until at least the 1:04 mark on the video

And so we tried dhokla and it’s pretty good. But I have to say that the “soft and spongy” aspect of it put me off a little. Some of our dhokla was done more than others and became chewy. THAT chewy part was delicious!

I have to tell the truth. Even though the cake tester came out cleanly, when we cut it into pieces, it clearly hadn’t been quite cooked enough. So the dhokla was a little bit too soft. Next time, we’ll really make sure the cake is cooked. And maybe next time we’ll use less batter or a bigger pan too. (I seem to recall seeing on one of the several dhokla recipes I found that the cake tin should be filled only to half. But I can’t seem to find this instruction again…. :stomp:)

Because there will be a next time. The fried curry leaves and coconut chutney alone are worth the trip!

Here’s what T did to make dhokla:

Dhokla, Coconut Chutney and Tarkar

based on eDewcate’s recipe for dhokla on YouTube: Gujarati Khaman dhokla recipe

required equipment: wok with lid, rack, 9″ round cake pan


  • 1 c rice
  • ½ c channa dal
  • ¼ c urad dal
  • ¼ c plain yoghurt *
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp seasalt
  • good shot of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp baking soda **
  • 1 tsp hot water ***

Coconut Chutney

  • ¾ c dried coconut flakes ****
  • water
  • 1 Tbsp channa dal, dry roasted
  • good shot of coriander leaves (cilantro)
  • 3 Tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 1 green chilies, chopped
  • ground cumin, to taste
  • seasalt, to taste


  • ¼ c vegetable oil
  • good shot brown mustard seed
  • 2 green chilies
  • ground cumin, to taste
  • 1 bunch curry leaves
  1. Dhokla (part 1): On the day before you will be making the dhokla, wash dal and rice (we used long grain Thai rice). Cover with water and leave to soak for at least 8 hours.
  2. Drain the rice and dal, discarding the water. Add yoghurt, seasalt and turmeric; grind into a fine paste. Set aside for another 8 hours to ferment.
  3. Chutney: Put dried coconut into a small bowl. Add a pinch of sugar. Pour enough just-boiled water to cover, to reconstitute the coconut. The pinch of sugar is there to simulate the natural sweetness of fresh coconut. Set aside for about 8 hours and the result is very very close to grated fresh coconut!
  4. When the coconut is reconstituted, dry-roast channa dal in a cast iron pan until the dal is a shade or two darker. Use an electric grinder (or mortar and pestle) to grind it coarsely.
  5. Put ½ c coconut and the rest of the chutney ingredients into a food processor and process to combine (reserve the rest of the coconut to use as a garnish). When this is first made, the dal pieces and dried coconut make it quite crunchy. Give it several hours to soften and it will be perfect.
  6. Dhokla (part 2): After fermentation (just before cooking), add ginger, finely chopped chilis, baking soda and 1 tsp hot water.
  7. Use 1 Tbsp oil to grease the cake tin. Pour in the batter.
  8. Place the cake tin on a rack in the wok and steam over boiling water for 10 minutes or more until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove the pan and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  9. Cut dhokla into 1½ inch squares or triangles and set aside on a plate.
  10. Tarkar: Heat oil in a frying pan. Then add mustard seeds. Wait until they pop, then add the rest of the ingredients and fry for 30 seconds. Add the dhokla pieces and toss gently to coat with the oil.

Put warm dhokla on a plate, sprinkle with coconut and coriander leaf and serve with the chutney.


* Buttermilk can be used in place of plain yoghurt in the dhokla batter.

** Apparently, “fruit salts” can be substituted for baking soda (bicarbonate of soda). Fruit salts is mixture of sodium bicarbonate and citric acid crystals.

*** Under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Heat cold water and use that.

**** If you’re lucky enough to have grated fresh coconut, use that instead of dried coconut in the chutney.

dhokla Yes, it’s a bit involved. But really, it’s worth it. Even if it’s just to see that cake can be made on the stovetop!

Do try dhokla. (And remember to fill the cake pan no deeper than half full!) Let me know what you think.

WHB #215: Curry Leaf (Murraya koenigii)

weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchen Curry leaf Murraya koenigii has the most amazing flavour! It’s unlike anything else. There really is no substitute for it. It’s generally available in Indian grocery stores – either in the area with the vegetables or in the refrigerator. I’ve always seen it sold on its branches. The leaves tend to dry out quite quickly, so it’s a good idea to use them all immediately. (I have never tried freezing them.)

If you have extra curry leaves, make some puliyinji. One can never have enough puliyinji!!

Read more about curry leaf:

This week’s WHB host is Haalo (Cook Almost Anything). The deadline for entering WHB#215 is Sunday 10 January 2010 at 15:00, Utah time (GMT-7). For complete details on how to participate in Weekend Herb Blogging, please see the following:


edit 11 January 2010: Haalo has published the WHB#215 recap. Do take a look. Oh my!! Which one to try first?!

This entry was posted in crossblogging, food & drink, Indian, posts with recipes, side, spicy, WHB on by .

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7 responses to “dhokla (WHB#215: curry leaf)

  1. Kalyn

    Loved that piece about Gujarati food. This sounds like a fun food adventure. When I finally got to try curry leaves I liked them a lot, but I can’t seem to find them anywhere around here. At least not yet!

  2. maybelles mom

    Curry leaves are my very favorite herb. I adore them. But, I guess its genetic. My grandmother makes the best dhokla–now I think i need her recipe. I do know she uses buttermilk.

  3. katie (thyme for cooking)

    What I think is that some day I want to live in a place where I can find this sort of food. I live in the middle of chestnut country but do you think I could find chestnut flour? For all the French are about cooking wonderful food from scratch, it is French food, after all. I suppose when the national conviction is that’s it’s the best in the world why would one explore other cultures? I feel very lucky that now the big stores have an ‘Old El Paso’ section – meager, but I can still get corn torillas on occasion. Oh, and there is always a big selection of Chinese foods in the 1 week leading up to Chinese New Year (must find that date so I can be prepared)

  4. Katie (gluten-free)

    I’ve never used curry leaves before, but I love trying new ingredients! I guess I need to make a trip to the local Asian food store and hope that they have some. Thanks for introducing me to something new and different!

  5. ejm Post author

    How sad that you cannot easily find curry leaves, Kalyn. It makes me realize that we are very fortunate to have several Indian grocery stores nearby.

    MM, we’d LOVE to hear how your grandmother makes dhokla!

    Katie, I remember noticing the dirth of other types of cuisine when we’ve travelled in France – only North African and French anywhere – with the occasional pizza joint that was decidedly unItalian (I simply refuse to even recognize that McDo’s have managed to stick their hooves in les portes). So I understand that it might be difficult to find channa dal or urad dal. But I’m absolutely reeling that you cannot get chestnut flour where you live! Don’t people use chestnut flour any more? I thought that was a standard French country food ingredient (at least in the part of the French countryside that has chestnut trees).

    I hope you love curry leaves as much as we do, gluten-free Katie. And do report back if you try making dhokla!


    edit: I just googled and Chinese New Year starts on 14 February this year, which will be the year of the Tiger. -ejm

  6. ejm Post author

    Thank you, Joanne. Like you, I’d never heard of dhokla either. I’m glad you like the sound of it. Do let me know what you think of it, if you try it. -Elizabeth


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