Monday, January 18, 2021

In love with Dhoklas

I am sure most of the readers are familiar with 'Dhokla' or 'Khamman' and have tasted this humble snack some time or other. My earliest recollections of this dish are the time when my mother learnt making from one of the relatives who stayed in Gujrat. She mostly prepared this with the ' gram flour( besan), and yoghurt'. The soft spongy texture and melt in the mouth tanginess would make me crave for more.  Soon it started to appear in the breakfast and everyone enjoyed the wholesome light breakfast. A dash of green chutney would raise the flavour by several notches. 

Then the time came to leave home to start a career in the Navy. After initial training for six months at the Naval Academy in Kochi, I landed in Jamnagar for the specialization course. Within days of arriving at Jamnagar, one weekend on a Sunday morning I was strolling in the market, which was very close to the railway station of Jamnagar. I noticed a cubicle about 6'x6' where a huge tray with steaming 'dhoklas' was kept and adjacent to it a man stooped over a big vessel with boiling water, trying to arrange a tray inside the vessel on some kind of a stand.  I bought the steaming 'hot dhoklas' and he packed some 'papaya chutney' on a smaller leaf and handed over the packet to me. These ' dhoklas' were not yellow in colour but had a white appearance and were garnished with mustard seeds and coriander leaves. There were some green chillies too and the whole dish tasted heavenly with the chutney that accompanied the 'dhoklas. That was the beginning of an association with the 'dhoklas'  that could only be compared to a torrid affair. Like a magnet, I would be drawn to this little shop on every visit to the town. After a while, the vendor started recognising me and I also, asked him how he prepared the dish. He shared the recipe with me and I instantly memorized it! It was prepared with 'rice and gram dal' batter that was left to ferment overnight. It was quite a revelation as all the while I believed that the best dhoklas were prepared with only gram flour( besan)! There are several variants that are available these days like 'Sooji( Semolina) and baked dhoklas too!

On several occasions, I travelled to other parts of Gujrat and tasted several varieties of 'Dhoklas' or 'Khamman' in places like Rajkot, Ahmedabad, Anand, Mehsana, Dwarka and many other and never missed an opportunity to feast on many lovely Gujrati snacks and 'Dhokla' in particular. No train journey would be complete when travelling through Gujrat without tasting the local 'dhoklas' available at the railway stations.  In the intervening years, I gradually practised the art of making 'dhoklas' I had learnt from the 'little master' in Jamnagar.

PS- The picture is of homemade 'dhokla'


  1. I tasted dhokla first time when I visited Ahmedabad...I love the spongy texture and the taste .... this post is making me hungry