Savory Chickpea Cake (Dhokla)

Savory chickpea cake (dhokla) is a gluten free snack, made primarily with pureed hulled split brown chickpeas (chana dal), plain yogurt, herbs and seasonings. It is simply an Indian version of corn bread and can be made in a variety of ways. There isn’t a time when this versatile dish wouldn’t be a welcome addition served as a snack or side dish at a sit down dinner. This recipe originated in the western state of Gujarat, India.

Pureed chickpea mixture is a multi-purpose basic batter often used to make a variety of dishes in the Indian kitchen by pan-frying, deep-frying, baking, fermenting and steaming. If you like the batter this may easily be prepared with chickpea flour (besan or gram flour not graham flour), rice, corn flour, and sooji or cream of wheat. Chickpeas are one of the staples in my pantry and a particular favorite of mine during the winter.

1 cup hulled split chickpeas, soaked, drained
1/8 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice or citric acid
1 serrano chili, chopped – optional
1/8 cup chopped coriander leaves
Mustard-infused oil – optional

1) To prepare the chickpea batter simply follow the same steps (#1 and #2) to make the batter as given for Dahi Vada recipe posted on August 18, 2008 on Nani’s Indian Cooking Blog.
2) Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl and add about a generous pinch of salt, baking soda and turmeric. (At this point I like to add 1 teaspoon grated ginger and a generous pinch of cayenne pepper). Stir to mix and cover. Set aside in a draft free place (preferably in the oven with off setting) and leave undisturbed at least 8 hours or overnight to ferment.
3) When ready to steam add 4 cups of water to a large 4-inch deep saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring water to a simmer over medium heat and place steamer rack in the saucepan. Lightly grease a 9-inch round baking pan and set aside.
4) Just before steaming the cake stir in oil and salt to fermented batter. Stir in lemon juice and a generous pinch of baking soda and whisk to mix thoroughly just before ready to steam. At this point, the batter should look quite frothy.
5) Pour the batter into greased baking pan. Carefully place the pan on top of steamer rack. Cover and increase the heat to high and let it steam until firm to the touch approximately 12 to 16 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of the cake comes out clean. Turn the heat off and let it rest for approximately 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving plate and score into desired shapes. Set aside.
6) Heat oil in a skillet and immediately add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds. Partially cover the pan with a lid and as soon as mustard seeds start sputtering add 1 teaspoon sesame seeds and immediately remove from the heat. Add the cut steamed chickpea pieces and stir to mix. Add the garnishes as needed.

Yield: 4 to 8 servings.

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4 Comments on “Savory Chickpea Cake (Dhokla)”

  1. Luliya Says:

    this is very tasty but is ok to bake instead of fry too?

  2. Cookware Says:

    But are the sesame seeds must on it. Does the taste differ without them

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