By Tarun Kapoor
I often wonder about one dish from different cuisine of India that lead the array of dishes from that region. Thinking of Gujarati cuisine, the first dish that comes to my mind is dhokla. Gujarat offers a host of delightful snacks that are very popular across the length and breadth of not only India but across the globe. Gujaratis being mainly a vegetarian community know how to extract multiple flavours out of their veggies and grains in their kitchen. Dhokla and khaman are two popular snacks for those trying to stay from junk food. Yes, you read it right, dhokla and khaman are two different dishes that are often confused for each other or both the words are used together to denote one of the food item due to the ignorance about the cuisine and the dish. Today, I will share with you the in-depth knowledge about these two different dishes, which look like each other but are different in terms of the ingredients being used.
Khaman is made up of fresh chana (gram) dal or chana flour (besan), soaked overnight in water to make a soft thick paste which has a cake batter like consistency. The batter is then steamed to a soft spongy bread like texture. Gram flour, semolina, lemon juice and yoghurt are some of the main ingredients used in making khaman. The snack can be baked, steamed or even cooked in a microwave. A tempering using curry leaves, asafoetida and chilies is added on the top in the end to keep it moistened. This is just the basic version of khaman, there are several other interesting versions of khaman which are a must try like nylon khaman, Amiri khaman, Vati dal khaman and masala khaman to name some popular and prominent ones.
Nylon khaman – This version is made from besan and gets its name from its soft, smooth and spongy texture.
Amiri khaman – You can call it the perfect teatime snack, and is made using leftover khaman crumble, tempered with garlic, and pomegranate and is topped with sev.
Vati dal khaman – this traditional type of khaman is made from crushed lentils (vateli dal). Vati dal khaman is coarser in texture as compared to the nylon khaman made using besan.
Masala khaman – masala khaman is a fried variant where baked khaman is fried in oil, along with red pepper powder, mustard seeds and turmeric powder, instead of tempering it.
After knowing so much about khaman, I am sure you are super curious about dhokla and wonder that all these years you have been denoting this dish with a different name. Well let me tell you that only a trained eye can tell the difference between dhokla and khaman. Dhokla is made from fermented batter of rice and split chickpeas and is pale yellow in colour. It is usually served with mint chutney. Speaking of texture, Dhokla is little harder than khaman and is garnished with a tempering of mustard seeds, coriander leaves, and split green chilies. It can be eaten for breakfast and can also be served as evening snacks. Dhokla can also be prepared in a variety of ways like rasia dhokla, khatta dhokla, toor dal dhokla and rava dhokla.
Rasia dhokla – The dhokla is boiled in a curry made of tamarind, chillies, jaggery and other spices giving dhokla a delightful touch.
Khatta dhokla – The white rice dhokla is fermented with yoghurt or lemon juice and served with a sweet chutney for added yumminess. The addition of yoghurt or lemon juice gives it a delicious sour taste
Toor dal dhokla – This dhokla is prepared with mainly toor dal paste and is flavoured with ginger garlic paste.
Rava dhokla – The last but not the least, it is the softest dhokla available and is made with semolina and is mainly served with green mint and cilantro chutney.
Some other prominent types of dhokla are the green peas dhokla, cheese dhokla and mixed dal dhokla.
In terms of colour and texture, the dhokla is pale in colour as compared to the khaman as it uses white rice, often some colour is added to the ones available in the market to make it appear more appealing and fresh.
Khaman on the other hand is naturally richer looking and has a softer and spongeier texture.
Chana dal 250 gm
Yoghurt 50 gm
Sugar 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds ½ tsp
Green chili 3-4 nos.
Asafoetida 1/3 tsp
Water 1/3 cup
Lemon juice 1 tsp
Curry leaves few sprigs
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves 2 tbsp
Coconut grated 2 tbsp
Coriander leaves 2 tbsp
Soak the chana lentil in water overnight or seven hours to allow the chana dal to soften up.
Blend the chana dal with little water and add yoghurt and sugar to get a pancake batter consistency.
Keep aside at a warm place to ferment overnight.
In another bowl add baking soda and oil and leave in a cool place.
For cooking khaman, after the batter is fermented the next day, add the baking soda and oil mixture and salt and stir well to combine the ingredients.
Grease a steamer mold and pour the required batter in the vessel and steam for 25-30 minutes or until khaman is steamed.
Remove and allow to cool and cut into cubes and keep aside.
For the tempering, heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and wait until they splutter, add curry leaves, green chili, asafoetida, lemon juice and water and pour over the prepared khaman.
Garnish with grated coconut and coriander leaves and serve warm.
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