'Dhoka' in Bengali means to cheat. And one of the jewels of Bengali vegetarian main course is DHOKAR DALNA. Why was it named so? Was it to signify that the dish tasted so delicious despite not containing onion, garlic (the two ingredients considered non-vegetarian in Bengali cuisine), that it could easily fool / cheat everyone into thinking it to be a non-vegetarian dish like fish or meat??? Who knows? May be....maybe not....
A bit cumbersome in preparation but finger licking good, and worth the trouble!
A) For the Dhokar Boda / Kofta
Chholar Dal / Chana Dal-400-500 gms (approx) - soaked in water overnight
Ginger paste - 2 tsp
Hing / Asafoetida - a pinch
Green chili - as per tolerance
Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Oil for deep frying
B) For the gravy : ( I made it 100% vegetarian i.e without onion & garlic)
Whole garam masala - elaichi, clove, cinnamon sticks
Whole jeera - 1 tsp
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Tomatoes - 2-3 chopped
Coriander Powder - 2 tsp
Turmeric /Haldi - 1 tsp
Kashmiri Chili powder - 1- 1.5 tsp
Potatoes - 2-3 cubed
Ghee - 1 tbsp
1.Drain water from the dal (lentil) soaked overnight.
2. Add all ingredients in 'A' of Ingredients to the Dal, except Hing & Oil. Grind to a paste.
3.In a wok / kadai, pour a little oil and after it heats up, add a pinch of Hing and then add the Dal batter
4.Cook briskly and well on medium flame ...this is 'koshano' in Bengali and continue till the consistency is slightly sticky and neither too dry nor too runny.
5. Place the hot batter in a mound on a flat plate. Flatten it as fast as you can to an approx 2" thick slab. Smoothen the top surface with a belan (rolling pin).
6.After it cools down a bit and also hardens a bit, with a sharp knife, cut diamond shaped or square 'barfis'
7. After it cools down, carefully slide of the cut barfis from the plate and deep fry and keep aside. These fried 'dhokas' are crispy and tasty by their own right and tastes yum as a side dish with Dal.
Now the gravy....
8. Partially fry the cubed potatoes after smearing them with a pinch of Turmeric & salt. keep aside
9. In a kadai, pour 2 tbsp of oil. Add bay leaf, whole garam masala & whole Jeera and a pinch of sugar (for caramelising and giving the dish its colour), once the oil is hot.
10. Add the 1.5-2 tsp of ginger paste followed by chopped tomatoes. Cook on medium to high heat.
11. Add a few drops of water to the dry spice mix of coriander powder+haldi powder+kashmiri chili powder + salt and add the masala paste to the kadai. Cook well on medium to high heat till the tomatoes turn into mush and spices loose their raw smell.
12. Add the partially fried (or 'shaantlano') potatoes and pour 3-3.5 cups of warm water. Cover and bring to a boil.
13. Once the gravy is ready slide in the deep fried 'dhokas' or lentil dumplings/koftas and bring to a boil till the oil swims up.
14. Finish off by garnishing with a spoonful of ghee...of course that's optional...but I like my niramish dishes with a flavour of ghee...
Serve with steamed ric.
Make sure that there's adequate gravy as the 'dhokas' tend to soak up the gravy.