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Dhoka-r Dalna

Bengalis are never tired of gastronomical expediencies, be it with old or new delicacies, and preparations like this carry the rich tradition of brilliant culinary skills of our predecessors.

Anuradha Bhunia
Sun, Jun 22 2014

Photography: Anuradha

About Anuradha

Growing up in Kalyani (WB), I learned cooking watching my mother. (She was really a good cook!). I started my own gastronomic journey on being married in a new country and experienced the challenges of adapting my recipes to the local availability of ingredients and also adopted recipes from all over the world.

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‘Dhoka-r Dalna’ is Bengali vegetarian delicacy made of lentil cakes, soaked in traditional gravy. When life was relatively less busy, preparations like this would regularly show on Bengali menus. Now that people are struggling with time ‘Dhoka-r Dalna’ is something that is left for occasions. Whatever be it, the gastronomical expediency of the Bengalis is never tired of old and new preparations and ‘Dhoka-r Dalna’ carries the rich tradition of brilliant culinary skills of our predecessors.

I am sure most of us picked up the recipe of items like Dhoka-r Dalna either from our parents and grandparents. And this is what I share.

First make the ‘Dhoka’ as follows: Soak Yellow Split Peas (Motor Daal) overnight. Make a fine paste using very little water along with Turmeric Powder and Dry Red Chilies. Add oil in a pan. Once it is warm, put some Kalo Jeera (Kalonji), Hing, Ginger Paste, Sugar, and Salt in it.

Add the Daal paste in it. Make it dry, the concentration should be like that of Halua. Spread the Daal paste on a cutting board. When it cools, cut them into diamond or heart shapes with a cookie cutter.

Once they are cut to shapes and sizes, put some oil in a pan and shallow fry the Dhokas.

Now it’s time to make the gravy. Add oil in a pan. Temper the oil with Jeera, Ginger Paste, Tomato Paste, Hing, Bengali Bhaja Mashla (dry roasted Jeera and Red Chili Powder), Turmeric, Kashmiri Mirch Powder, Salt, Sugar and Garam Mashala.

Cook until the oil separates. Then add a handful of sweet peas. Add a glass of hot water, bring it to a boil and add a few slit Green Chilies.

In a microwave-safe bowl, arrange all the fried Dhokas carefully; pour the hot gravy on top. Then microwave for 2-3 minutes. You can also add fried Dhokas into the gravy. Cook for a few minutes. Sprinkle chopped Coriander on top (you may also add a little bit of Ghee). Serve with rice or plain roti.

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