Shital's-Kitchen: Khatta Dhokla

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Khatta Dhokla

I have received so many emails and messages for recipe on Gujarati Khatta Dhokla. In spite of me making this so often, I don't know why I had not posted this easy recipe earlier!

Dhokla is a steamed cake which is special to the people belonging to Gujarat (western state of India). And I must say, Gujaratis make Dhokla out of any ingredients. If I start to list the kinds of dhoklas we make at home, I am sure the post would run endlessly :) We Gujaratis can enjoy dhoklas any time of the day. Dhoklas for Breakfast, Dhoklas as appetizers/farsan, Dhoklas with tea, Dhoklas during festivals, Dhoklas during travel, Dhoklas as a meal, Dhoklas for dinner, and it continues!

This is the basic dhokla which I am sure is not only enjoyed by Gujaratis, but also by people of other cultures. This simple rice and lentil preparation has become popular and well-known among all. But, why is it called Khatta Dhokla and not just Dhokla? Khatta means sour. And the sour taste and flavor in the dish comes from the use of sour curd or yogurt. Yogurt provides bacteria/probiotics that impart distinctive flavor to this dish. Although people nowadays like instant, quick, and microwaved or 2 minute dhoklas, the benefits of fermenting rice and lentils and then using the fermented batter to make dhoklas are immense. Also the combination of rice and lentils makes it a good source of proteins for vegetarians.

Traditionally, a big batch of rice and lentils are dry milled together and stored in a big container as dhokla flour. I remember my mom would mix Urad dal lentil and rice in a big steel box. Our maid would carry that container to the local flour mill. Yes, each block in India has a local mill to grind cereals and lentils to form flour. This way the quality of lentil and cleaning process would be in control of the women of the house, and she would ensure that the food was clean and safe for the family. When needed, the flour would be mixed with yogurt and water to form a batter, left to ferment and made dhoklas. It was so simple. Now that I have a Kitchenaid mixer and grain mill attachment at home, I grind my own dhokla flour which is fresh and delicious. Although dhokla flour is easily available at an Indian grocery store, I am not a big fan of it. Since not everyone owns a grain mill, I created my own recipe to make Khatta Dhokla from scratch by grinding soaked grains which you should try. Below are the pictures of making dhokla using flour as well as by soaking and grinding grains.

Here is the recipe to make dhokla batter by soaking grains first.
This proportion makes around 10 to 12, 7 inch plates/thalis of dhokla.
Yes, it is a lot. But, we enjoy these for 2-3 days and leftovers are great!

You could use small tea cup, katori or 1/4 cup measurements for this recipe.
Remember to keep a constant proportion of 1 part of urad dal/lentil to 3 parts of rice flour.

I used a cup measurement here.
Soak 1 cup of white urad dal/lentil in 3 cups of water for at least 3-4 hours.

In a large bowl mix 3 cups of rice flour with 3 cups water and 2 cups sour yogurt or regular plain yogurt. Also add 1 tbsp. fenugreek seeds/methi seeds(optional). I like the taste and slight bite of fenugreek in my dhoklas.  These seeds will soak in and swell in size.

After 3-4 hours of lentils soaking, drain off all the water and grind it into slightly coarse paste. Add around 1/4 -1/2 cup of water if needed. Mix the paste with soaking rice flour mixture.

Use a whisk or your palm to mix in the batter for 5-7 minutes. Cover and set the bowl in a warm place to ferment. Depending on the place, climate, humidity, the mixture might ferment rising in the bowl. It is okay to not see a rise in the bowl. You might see fermentation as soon as 4-5 hours or even in 10-12 hours. I would not suggest you keeping the batter unattended for more than 18-20 hours. You will yet be able to make soft and delicious dhoklas without seeing the batter rise.

Here is the recipe of Grinding dry grains first:
3 part of idli rice, 1 part urad dal, 1/4 part chana dal
Grind them together and store in an airtight container until you are ready to use.

Here is the video of my grain mill.

Mix 1 cup dry ground flour with a cup of yogurt and water till it forms a thick batter.
Add 1/4 tsp. methi/fenugreek seeds. Cover and all the batter to ferment well. Place the batter in a warm moist place like a warm oven with a cup of warm water to give it a suitable environment to ferment. It should take 8-10 hours to ferment or sometimes more.

When you are ready to make dhoklas:
Add 2 tbsp. oil, 1/2 tbsp. ground ginger and green chilli paste,  1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. hing/asoefotida.
Mix ingredients well.

Here is my stainless steel plate/thali for steaming. Grease well with 1/4 tsp. oil covering the base and sides.

Prepare for steaming. 
Use a big pot filled 2 inches with water. You could use a pressure cooker or a big pot with a lid to steam. Use a metal ring, a metal strainer or anything raised that could prevent steaming plate touching boiling water in the container.

Place steaming plate into a steamer.

Just before steaming, you need to mix in baking soda. I do not add baking soda to the entire big batch of batter. I like to add to small proportions and steam immediately. Baking soda is optional. A well fermented batter does not need baking soda.
Remove 3/4 to 1 cup batter into a separate bowl. Add 1/8 tsp. of baking soda and mix well.

When you start to see the steam into the steamer:
Pour batter into greased plate. Sprinkle chilli powder or pepper powder on the batter. 
Cover and steam on medium to high heat for 5-7 minutes. If using a pressure cooker, do not put the whistle on.

A metal basket that can be used to place thali for steaming.

After 5-7 minutes, turn off the heat and remove the lid. Be careful of the steam. 
Remove steamed plate from the steamer.

Let the plate relax for 3-4 minutes before piercing your knife in to cut into pieces.

Another batch with pepper powder

Here is steamed khatta dhokla.

My grandmother's special chutney with dhoklas. She used to prepare cilantro and mint chutney mixed with yogurt and tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves.

These steamed, fresh dhoklas as usually served with chutney, cooking oil and some ghee on the side.
As these warm doklas is dipped in ghee, the ghee melts imparting delicious taste and flavor.
I love these with some spicy red garlic chutney too.

Left overs can be stored covered on the kitchen counter overnight or refrigerated for 4-5 days.
Just microwave for 30 seconds, and you have soft dhoklas ready to serve. 
They do taste delicious as is.

What else do we do with them? Yes, just deep fry or pan fry in hot oil for a crispy outside and soft inside texture. 
You could also temper them with other spices for a different flavor.

To make Vagharela (tempered) Dhokla
Heat 2 tbsp. of oil in a pan or a wok. Add 1 tsp. cumin seeds and 1 tsp. mustard seeds. Add chopped green chillies and red chillies as per your taste. Fry few curry leaves. Add left over dhoklas. Sprinkle 1-2 tsp. sugar. Mix well. Allow sugar to melt and caramelize for flavor and color. Sprinkle chopped cilantro and serve.

Enjoy this Soft Steamed Gujarati Snack!!


  1. Hello Shital!
    Love this receipe. I have two questions for you-
    Can we use Eno instead of baking soda
    Any American brand which you know has khatta dahi. At Indian store which dahi brand you use for khatta dahi? I live in Dallas and we have Patel brothers here thanks so much!

  2. Hello shital,

    Can i freeze or keep this batter in the fridge for like 3 to 4 days? please reply soon

    thanks very much for this delicious post!!

  3. Amazing recipe.. thanks. i will try... this is white udad dal?

  4. Hey Shital...thanks for the recipe...can I make your dhokla recipes w/o adding baking soda or any other raising agent...I would like to try these recipes for the kids...thank you in advance...keep up the good work.