My mother is a superwoman. Despite working full-time and managing all household responsibilities singlehandedly, her recipes are a result of experiments and innovations. She makes it a point to inculcate variety in her cooking so that we don’t get bored and throw tantrums. One of my favorite dishes that she makes is the Dhokla. The savory piping hot Dhokla is not only a great option for breakfast or lunch but can be enjoyed as a snack with tea or coffee as well. When I was younger, Mum used to pack Dhokla for school. I would be so distracted during the classes, dreaming of having Dhokla in the lunch. I would wait, biding my time for the recess to start and I would get the opportunity to enjoy the delicious meal.
Dhokla has been a savory affair for my family. Mum soaks Channa (Split Chickpeas), moong dhuli (Split washed green gram) lentils and rice in the ratio of 1:1:2 or (125:125:220 gms) in water for a couple of hours. After 4-5 hours, she grinds them into a thick batter and leaves it overnight to ferment.
In the morning, mum pours the mixture into the idli molds and steams them for 15 minutes. After the Dhokla disks have cooled off, she cuts them into small pieces.
She tempers off the small pieces in Ghee, mustard seeds, green chili, coriander seeds, salt, turmeric, and curry leaves. She later garnishes them with Coriander leaves (depending on the availability of fresh leaves).
I remember the first time I discovered another version of the Dhokla. I was about 16 years old and visiting my aunt in Delhi. She asked me if I would be interested in eating Dhokla with evening snacks. I told her that I love Dhokla, and I am capable of finishing two servings in a go. My aunt got excited and ordered 4 pounds of Dhokla. When it was time for evening tea, she served a yellow thingy with tea. I looked around and enquired where was the Dhokla. Puzzled, she pointed at the yellow thing and said this is Dhokla and served it in a bowl. I sat there, eyeing the weird-looking thing suspiciously. As I sliced a piece of the Dhokla with my spoon, water oozed out. I put the bowl back on the table and declared that the shopkeeper had duped my aunt by selling her rotten dhokla. My mum picked up the spoon and tasted the thing. She ingested it and informed me that I was mistaken as the Dhokla was not stale. I chimed that this is not the dhokla she makes. My mum laughed and told me that the version of Dhokla we eat at home is different from the Dhokla my aunt ordered. The one ordered by my aunt is the more popular version known as Khaman Dhokla, a popular dish from Gujarat. I was still skeptical as I popped a spoonful of Dhokla in my mouth. I was surprised as this thing tasted yummy. I started stuffing my face with more Dhokla. I ended up stuffing myself to the point that I started to feel an onset of stomach ache.
Although this version of Dhokla is delicious, it is doused with sugar the same as most of the dishes from Gujarat are. However, nothing can beat my mum’s Dhokla. It is still my go-to version. Not only this Dhokla not sweet, but it is also healthier and more flavorful. I use her recipe when I cook Dhokla. I enjoy it more than the sweet-tasting Khaman Dhokla. I also discovered that most of the people I know have never eaten the version of Dhokla my mum makes.
I make it a point to find more converts for my mum’s Dhokla.