janet @ the taste space

Steamed Indian Chickpea Cakes (Microwave Khaman Dhokla)

In Mains (Vegetarian), Sides on June 1, 2013 at 7:59 AM

By the way, I loved everyone’s thoughts on how you pronounce (or not) besan. Richa suggested it was more like bay-sun, for anyone not wanting to sound like an Indian noob. I love how this flour which is more familiar in Indian cuisine has become more common.

Yes, I use a wealth of wacky ingredients but besan is peanuts compared to this next ingredient.

If I am lucky, I am able to find my wacky ingredients at one my favourite grocers.  If you want to buy this ingredient at a grocery store, it needs to be an Indian grocer, methinks (I have spotted it in Little India: $2.50 for 100g). Or at a pharmacy.

But that’s because I was looking for Eno. Yes, Eno, the antacid. Eno kept popping up as I perused recipes for dhokla, also known as Steamed Chickpea Cakes, a type of Indian snack.

My only experience with dhokla has been at home (with this recipe), but there are many recipes. Some use a combination of beans and rice and others just use chickpea flour or besan (known as khaman dhokla). Most use eno as the rising ingredient although you could substitute baking powder (it may not be as fluffy, though).

Despite both Rob and my dhokla virginity, we decided to tackle the dhokla experiment. Rather, we tackled the microwave khaman dhokla experiment! Dassana shared a beautiful post with an uber simple recipe. You microwave the batter for 2.5-3 minutes and then add the tempered spices overtop.

Rob tackled this, as he is a fan of uber simple Indian recipes, and we were blown away. Flavourful from the mustard-curry leaf tarka but the actual dhokla, the steamed cakes, were spongy, airy and delicious. Rob microwaved ours for 2 minutes but the middle wasn’t fully set, so just zap it a bit longer if need be. The strength of your microwave will change the times, slightly, so experiment to see what works. If you over microwave it, it may be hard and dry, though. Alternatively, you could try the standard way with steaming, too.

How do you feel about using your microwave to bake? I also like this non-traditional chocolate protein cake that I bake in the microwave.

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

Steamed Indian Chickpea Cakes (Microwave Khaman Dhokla)

Adapted from Veg Recipes of India

2 cups chickpea flour/besan
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1 or 1.5 tsp grated ginger
1 green chile, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt (may use less next time)
1 -1.25 cups water
2 tsp Eno

1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds (optional)
1 tsp agave or sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup water (or less)
1 sprig curry leaves
1/2 tbsp sesame seeds

1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves (optional, we didn’t use)
1/4 cup freshly grated coconut (optional, we used it)

1. In a small bowl, mix together the besan, turmeric, asafoetida, ginger, chile, lemon juice, salt and water.

2. Grease a large lidded microwave-safe dish (we used a 9×9″ dish).

3. Add the eno to the batter and gently mix it in. The batter should rise. Quickly add it to the grease dish and microwave on high for 2 -3 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean. If not done, microwave for 30 seconds more. (Alternatively, allow to steam for 10-15 minutes in a double boiler)

4. Now prepare your tempering: In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat add the oil and mustard seeds. Cover and allow the seeds to pop. Once they stop, add the cumin seeds and toast for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and sugar and saute for 1 minute more. Add the water, cover and bring to a boil. Pour overtop the steamed dhokla.

5. Garnish with cilantro and coconut. Serve with Indian chutneys.

Serves 2-4.

  1. Janet,
    I would die without your blog…Love love love the recipes

  2. I don’t usually use the microwave to bake but I love it for saving me time and lots of messy equipment – am intrigued by this recipe – never come across Eno (unless you were talking about a moody British muso) – and I usually love anything with besan so will have to look out for Eno

  3. Of course I fell in love with this recipe. Will look into Eno—it’s available for 99 cents on Amazon—but $5 shipping! Will look for it in Indian stores.

    Did you have it as an appetizer/snack, along with the chutneys?

    Most of the recipes I use don’t call for much microwaving—I use it mostly for reheating, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use it for this (it will be our little secret and we won’t tell the high-raw folks!).

    Like Lani, your blog has immeasurably enriched my life, not to mention my breakfast/lunch/dinner table!

    • Hey Ellen, Richa said she’s made it with baking powder and soda, so maybe Eno is not needed afterall? We actually ate this as a meal. The first time, Rob and I devoured it all between the two of us, it was so good (and we weren’t sure how leftovers would taste). Since then, we usually have some leftovers and serve it with some steamed veggies.

  4. i use microwave sometime to make a mug cake as well. but usually the results are not as spectacular as the real deal, so if i have time i choose the regular method. same for dhokla. the steamed one is usually the best. i use a bit of baking soda and powder instead of eno and it comes out perfect! now that u have reminded me, i should whip some up for tomorrows breakfast!

    • Hey Richa, Thanks for the tips. I will have to try the full steaming method next time then… and while I have no other use for my Eno, good to know it doesn’t really need it. 🙂

  5. I saw Richa’s recipe for dhokla a while back and was intrigued, and your version certainly looks delicious too. The little cakes look like they’d make a great starter to an Indian meal alongside some chutney.

    I don’t think I’ve ever baked in the microwave before even though I often see mug cake recipes. I’m not really anti-microwave for the most part as it is a useful thing to have for warming up leftovers!

  6. So cool! I am going to have to find a good Indian grocer and scout out that Eno! Thanks so sharing, you and Rob are always cooking up the best food! I wish I had the patience to cook nice meals like this on a daily oocasion!

  7. Aaaaah I want this super much!

  8. I’m going to have to ask my (ex)roommate if her mom uses Eno in her baking! maybe she has a secret source of it 🙂

  9. I fell madly in love w dhokla after watching 3 Idiots.
    It’s my fav Indian snack!

  10. So neat that you made this yourself, and in the microwave! Dhokla was the one Indian snack I just didn’t understand the appeal of…I think it was the texture that I couldn’t get around. But to be fair, I probably only tried it once, so maybe I would like this version! Yours definitely looks nice and fluffy!

  11. thanks for trying the recipe and good to know both of you liked it. baking powder and baking soda works well too. i usually avoid baking soda in dhokla since i don’t like the soapy smell of the baking soda. so i always add eno. i have a bottle of eno only for dhokla 🙂

    steaming in a pan or an electric rice cooker is better than microwaving. as sometimes if the dhokla gets even a bit over cooked, it become slightly dense and dry.

  12. […] have tried (baked) pakoras and besan/khaman dhokla. For the cookbook challenge, I made these baked veggie squares.  This is a fusion of the two […]

  13. Oh wow they look amazing! And….. another new ingredient for me to look out for. You are always a mine of information Janet 🙂

  14. […] know the difference between a laddoo, burfi, and mysore pak, I can tell you all about how make dhokla, a steamed chickpea flour bread, and baked (not fried!) pakoras. Obviously, I am all over the […]

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