Dhokla is a nutritious Indian food with a base of fermented chickpea batter and rice. It originates from the Gujarat region, though its popularity has spread throughout India. While the base for the recipe stays essentially the same, its flavor can be adjusted in various ways with curd, yogurt, cheese, and a wide array of spices. It is a snack commonly found in sweet shops.
The base for dhokla consists of rice and chickpeas, or a chickpea flour which is known as besan. In some recipes, the batter is also prepared with yogurt. All of these ingredients are first soaked for many hours, often overnight. The soaked ingredients are then mashed into a paste which is allowed to ferment for several more hours.
After fermentation, spices such as ginger and chili peppers and baking soda are added to the batter. The dough is steamed for several minutes. Then it is cut into pieces and fried with mustard seeds. The frying process is complete when the seeds begin to crackle and pop. Then the dish is further seasoned with green chopped chilies and an herb with a similar flavor to leeks called assafoetida.
In some recipes, a mixture of water, sugar and oil are poured over the completed dish. Dhokla is often garnished with coconut or coriander. It is also frequently served with besan chutney and deep-fried chilies.
Recipes for dhokla can vary by household and region. Instead of chickpeas, the type of lentil could be another variety such as urad dal, also known black grams. The dish can also be prepared with paneer cheese and used as a sandwich filling. Khatta dhokla is a version of the dish made with sour curds. Rasiya dhokla contains a dramatically different mix of spices, including tarmind, jiggery and garam masala.
The dish is often mistaken for khamman dhokla, a similar snack food with a batter made primarily of chickpeas or besan. The primary difference between the two is that there is no rice in the base recipe and it is not fermented. Khamman, like dhokla, is also seasoned with chilies and mustard seed and garnished with coconut and coriander.
The Gujarat region is in northwestern India, and consists of four major areas: North Gujarat, Kathiawad, Kachchh, and South Gujarat. Gujarati cuisine is mostly vegetarian, with a wide variety in recipes across these regions. Common dishes tend to consist of a mix of spicy, sweet, and salty flavors.