Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Lentil cake curry (Dhokar dalna)

About the food:
This is a traditional Bengali dish, and one of my favourite. It is one of the most popular vegetarian food, often found in any Bengali party menu. Serve this with rice, and you can hardly find any delicious dish as this.Do not get scared away looking at the preparation time, it includes the overnight soaking time of the lentils.The cakes could be served just like that as a dry snacks, if you wish, with a mint chutney, and it is absolutely delicious!

Preparation time: 12 hrs
cooking time: 1 hr


Bengal gram (Chana/Cholar Dal): 160gms
Yellow split pea (Matar dal): 40gms
Cumin: 1 tbsp
Garam masala ( cinnamom,cardamom & cloves) powder: 1 tbsp
Sugar: 1tbsp
2-3 Green chilli, chopped (de-seeded if you want less hot)
Ghee (Clarified butter): 2 tbsp
2 big potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes
1 tomato, chopped
Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
1 bayleaf
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tbsp
Vegetable oil for deep frying


Making the cakes:

1.Wash and soak the lentils overnight in water. In a mixer, make a paste of the lentils.

2.Add the salt, sugar, 1/2 tbsp cumin powder and 2 de-seeded chopped green chillies to the paste and mix them well. Cover and keep it for 30 mins.

3.Heat a non stick pan and add 3 tbsp oil. Put the mixture and fry it on a low flame. The mixture should dry up, form a sticky dough, and should be a little browned. Take care not to burn it.

4. Take a deep dish and lightly oil it.While hot, spread the mixture in it evenly, about 1/2 inch thick. Beat the surface with the back of a spoon or a bowl to get an even shape and form. Let it set for about 20mins. With a knife, cut through it in straight lines, 1/2 inch apart. Now cut it again in straight lines, making a cross with the first line. You will get rhombus shaped cakes. Take them out carefully so they do not break.Heat oil in a pan for deep frying. Fry the cakes is batches and take them out in kitchen tissues.

The curry:

5.Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan. Add 1/2 tbsp cumin and bayleaf and let them crackle. Add the ginger paste, fry for a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, potatoes ,green chillies and fry on a medium flame. Add salt and turmeric. Fry for about 10 mins, and then add 2 cups of water. Simmer on a low flame until the potatoes are cooked. Add more water if it dries up and let it boil. Add the lentil cakes carefully and cover them with the gravy. Add more water if needed, the cakes need to be soaked in it. The gravy will dry out as the cakes will absorb much of it. Add the garam masala powder and mix it well. Add 3 tbsp of ghee. leave the curry for about 15-20 mins before serving. You may heat it up again just before serving.

6. Serve hot with plain basmati rice.

Cumin: 1 tbsp

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