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Authentic Bengali Dhokar Dalna – The story of Papia Chakravarty

Dhokar Dalna is not a dish that is popular in Bengali cuisine. Unless you have grown up in a Bengali household and had a skilled cook or a mother who is a prolific cook, it may not have formed a part of your diet. Fortunately for us, we have a mother who is a prolific cook and does not shy away from making complicated recipes. If we ever had guests at home who were vegetarian or any family gathering that was a strictly vegetarian affair, Dhokar Dalna would make an appearance. The word “dhoka” alludes to some form of illusion and misrepresentation and this dish aspires to do just that.

Dhokar Dalna was pioneered by widows in Bengal who were forbidden from indulging in non-vegetarian food. They started to create their own cuisine which emulated the non-vegetarian dishes using vegetarian ingredients. It is now a staple in Bengali meals, one such experiment to bring in a “meaty” factor by using cholardaal/Chana Daal. Hence, the usage of the word “dhoka” or illusion of meat.

Our mother makes this dish often and this has become a dish that makes regular appearances in our meals in special occasions or otherwise. We also noticed that this was slowly becoming a lost recipe as mutton, chicken and fish curries dominate the conversation in Bengali cooking. We persuaded our mother, not like she had an option, to showcase this recipe and document it so we and anyone else who may be looking for a reliable recipe can emulate this to create their own slice of meat made out lentils! Let us learn how to make this at home, step by step.

INGREDIENTS:

Chana Dal 500gms

Ginger 10gms

Green Chillies 4

Salt to taste

Mustard Oil 3-4tbsp

Potatoes 2-4

Coconut 1/2

Turmeric Powder 1tbsp

METHOD:

Soak the Chana Dal in slightly hot water for 3-4 hours.

In a mixer, grind the Chana Dal, ginger, chillies, shaved coconut with turmeric powder and salt.

Heat up Mustard Oil in a Kadhai and fry this paste for 15-20 minutes in order to tighten it.

Put a tablespoon of Sugar here if needed.

Once the mixture is not runny anymore, lay it on plate (as shown in the video) and wait for it to cool. Cut them into diamond shapes as shown in the video and deep fry each cake in Mustard Oil.

You can have just the ‘Dhoka’ or make a gravy out of it as directed in the video.

Enjoy this dish for lunch or dinner with Rice or Roti.

 

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