Many yoga students who’ve spent time in Mysore know (and love) idlis—the dal and rice steamed cakes served at tiffin time with flavorful chutney. The difficulty with idlis is that they take a long time to prepare--the raw beans and rice must soak overnight and after being ground to a smooth paste (which in and of itself sometimes turns into a nightmare) the batter must ferment for at least 12 hours. Dhokla are a fast and simple stand in for idlis. Made from chickpea flour (besan), they can be ready from start to finish in under an hour. Not idlis, but great in a pinch!
yield: 6–8 servings | prep time: 10 minutes | cooking time: 20 minutes | resting time: 10 minutes
- 2¼ cups chickpea flour
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (optional)
- 3 green Thai chili
- 1½ teaspoons minced ginger
- ¾ cup yogurt
- ½ to ¾ cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 6 curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
In a medium sized bowl, combine the chickpea flour with the coconut sugar. Stir to combine and so that there are no lumps in the flour.
- Trim and discard the stems from the green chili and slit each in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the seeds. Chop 4 of the chili halves into tiny dice and set the remaining sliced halves aside.
- In a small bowl combine the diced chili, ginger, yogurt, ½ cup water, lemon juice, turmeric and salt. Mix thoroughly. Gradually stir this mixture into the chickpea flour. Add additional water to make a thick batter. Cover and set this dhokla batter aside for about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, lightly oil a 9-inch, square baking pan with about 1 teaspoon of oil. Heat about 4 inches of water in a wok or large skillet that can accommodate a Chinese bamboo steamer. (See note if you don’t have a steamer).
- Just before cooking, stir the baking soda into the dhokla batter. It will turn light and frothy. Immediately pour the batter into the prepared pan and place, covered in the steamer over rapidly boiling water. Cook for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from steamer and allow them to rest for a few minutes.
- As the dhokla rest, heat remaining oil in a small skillet until hot but not smoking. Add the curry leaves, remaining sliced peppers and the mustard seeds. Cook, stirring constantly until seeds pop. Sprinkle minced cilantro evenly over the cooked dhokla and then pour the mustard seed topping mixture over this. Cut dhokla into squares and serve warm with chutney.
If you do not have a bamboo steamer, you may turn a wok into a steamer by putting water in the bottom of the wok, placing 4 wooden chopsticks in a tic-tac-toe pattern suspended by the sides of the wok, over the water. Next place the pan on the chopstick rack and cover the wok with a tight fitting lid.