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Dhoka Daalna - Daaler Dhoka - Daaler Bodar Tarkari - Lentil Curry

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This traditional Bengali recipe is courtesy of my Mother-in-law. Dhoka Daalna is made with a popular Bengali ingredient - Bengal Gram or Chana Daal. Bengali food is served in courses and Dhoka Daalna is usually served in the second course. This is not your usual or average lentil dish. Dhoka Daalna is unusual in its preparation, in that the end result is not a soup like Daal dish you would expect! Dhoka Daalna is made in two stages: stage 1 is the preparation of the Dhokas and stage 2 is the preparation of the gravy for the dish. Dhoka Daalna or Daaler Dhoka is a delicious vegetarian curry and tastes great with hot, freshly made Chapatis or Parathas.

Ingredients:

  • For the Dhoka: 1/2 lb Chana Daal
  • 2 tbsps ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • A pinch asafetida/ hing
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil to pan fry the Dhoka
  • For the gravy: 2 large tomatoes chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tbsps vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Put the Chana Daal in a sieve and wash thoroughly under running water until the water runs clear.
  • Put the washed daal into a bowl and add enough warm water to cover the daal by at least 2" over its surface. Soak overnight.
  • After soaking overnight, drain the soaking water, wash the daal again and discard all the water. Drain well.
  • Now grind the daal to a smooth paste in a food processor.
  • Take a deep, heavy bottomed pan and set it up on medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the ghee and heat. Now add the cumin seeds, asafetida, ginger paste and turmeric powder. Add salt to taste. Stir and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Now add the dal paste and mix well.
  • Sauté until the daal begins to come together and get sticky and thick. Do not dry the daal out too much.
  • Grease a flat dish with a little cooking oil and pour the cooked dal mixture into it. Use a spatula to flatten well so that it is evenly spread in the dish and has a smooth surface. Allow to rest for 20-30 minutes. The mixture will firm up by this time.
  • Cut it into square/ diamond shapes.
  • Heat a frying pan on medium and add enough cooking oil to pan fry the Dhokas you just made (as above). Pan fry a few at a time, until they each turn golden in color. Drain on paper towels and keep aside for later.
  • To prepare the gravy for Dhoka Daalna, first pureé the tomatoes, ginger paste, turmeric, green chillies, red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder together in a food processor to a smooth consistency.
  • Now heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil (on medium heat) in a pan. When hot, add the cumin seeds and fry till the spluttering/ sizzling stops. Now add the tomato-spice pureé you just prepared to it and mix well. Also add a cup of hot water.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, add salt to taste and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes. Now add the previously fried Dhokas to the gravy and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  • Turn off heat. Serve Dhoka Daalna with hot Chapatis, Parathas or plain rice.
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