Sunday, January 21, 2007

Waiter...there is some Dhokli in my Dal!

Three stellar food blogs- Cooksister, The Passionate Cook and Spitoon Extra, have come together to create a brand new food blogging event that is designed to be easy and all-inclusive. It is called "Waiter There's Something In My..." and January's theme, fit for the chilly season, is STEW!

When I read the theme, my first thought was, "Oh, Indian food does not have too many stews", and my second thought was, "Oh, but Indian food is ALL stews", for what else are curries and dals, but stews? Stews are a food that can be expansively defined as anything liquidy with big chunks of something in it, whether meat or vegetables or what-have-you. After much deliberation about whether to try a new exotic stew, maybe an African peanut stew, or whether to try a vegetarian version of "chicken soup with dumplings", I came full circle and settled on something familiar, comforting and low-maintainance, for those are the exact three qualities why stews are so well-beloved.

I decided to put a spin on a delicious Indian stew called Dal-Dhokli. It is a regional specialty, coming from the Western state of Gujarat. In the tradition of Gujarati food, it consists of a sweet-tangy-spicy split pea stew (dal) in which you cook little whole-wheat dumplings (dhokli). The result is a nutritious one-dish meal which has melt-in-the-mouth wheat dumplings swimming in a tasty protein-rich broth. I put a spin on the traditional version by adding chopped fresh spinach to the dumplings, which adds color, flavor and nutrition to this dish.

Spinach Dal-Dhokli

(serves 3-4 as a main dish, prep time: 45 minutes to an hour)
For the Dal...
1 cup toor dal (split yellow lentils)
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
5-6 curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder (cayenne pepper)
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp tamarind taste
1 tbsp jaggery (unrefined cane sugar)
salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
For the Dhokli (dumplings)
2/3 cup atta (fine whole-wheat flour)
1 + 1/2 cup packed fresh spinach leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1. Soak the toor dal in hot water for 15-30 minutes. Rinse several times, then cook in a pressure cooker or on the stove-top until tender. Set aside.
2. Dough for the dumplings: Finely chop the spinach. Add the rest of the ingredients for the dumplings and knead together to make a firm dough. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and set aside.
3. Making the dal: Heat oil in a large saucepan. Temper with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida and stir for a few seconds. Add onion and stir until onion is translucent. Add ingredients from turmeric to garam masala and stir for a few seconds.
4. Stir in the tomato, cooked dal, tamarind paste, jaggery and salt and bring the dal to a boil. Taste and adjust for balance of sweet, salty and sour. Keep the dal simmering.
5. Now, make the dhoklis. Divide the dough into four parts. Using some extra flour, roll out each part as thinly as possible, then cut into diamond shapes, or any shapes you like.
Add the dough shapes to the boiling dal and cook them for 5-8 minutes, or until the dough is tender and cooked through.
6. Let the dal-dhokli rest for 5 minutes, then serve the stew piping hot, drizzled with ghee (clarified butter).

Dal-dhokli is a popular dish in the food-blogosphere. Check out these traditional versions from Luvbites and The green jackfruit. I found two exciting variations too: Dal dhokli stuffed with potato presented in a beautiful step-by-step manner on My Khazana of Recipes and mutter dhokli (dhoklis in pea curry) from Garam Masala.


  1. Oh I so laughed out loud when I read the title!! And the little dumplings, just daaahling, dah-link!

  2. Nupur - sounds delicious! I love the addition of spinach in anything and I'll bet it's really nice in those dumplings. Another one to bookmark!

  3. comforting and low-maintainance - just what I like!

    Many thanks for contributing to the event with such a great post.

  4. This looks so inviting Nupur! I love dhoklis but have never attempted to make any. Now with your help, I may just have to give a go at it. Thanks!

  5. Oooh love Daal Dhokli and make it often.... my hubby is not much of a roti fan, so i make this for myself .. he has a small share... that way i can eat ALL of it!!! like ur spinach dhokli, will try it out !!

  6. My MY!!! Now thats some variation!!!! Never heard of spinach dhokli!!! I have some spinach at home, so now I know what to do with it !!!

    Thanks for linking it to mine dear :) Glad you liked it :)

  7. I love dumplings of all sorts, and the combination of split peas and/or lentils and spinach is one of my favorites.
    For some reason, I've been craving spinach lately, and eating lots of it in all forms, including raw, in salads. Maybe I'm anemic and my body's calling out for iron? Or maybe it just tastes so good! I think I'm going to give this "stew" a try.

  8. Oooh! I love this recipe. My husband is a Daal lover. I must try this recipe this week end. I have bookmarked you. Thanks for nice recipe ideas.

  9. Hi Nupur, it's so nice to see you back (long-time fan here!). Dal dhokli looks wonderful and you make it sound so easy, I will just have to try for myself :)

  10. Hi Alanna, thanks for stopping by :)

    Cathy, yes, I love spinach in everything too! Great way to sneak in the nutrition.

    Thanks for hosting, Andrew! This was fun.

    Meeta, it is really quite easy to make at home...give it a shot!

    Hi Manasi, glad to know you love this dish too!

    Coffee, your variation sounds so delicious. I am a potato-addict :)

    Hi Lindy, me too...I love both dumplings and spinach dearly. And yes, I often crave spinach too...I'm sure it is just that lovely leafy taste.

    Mahesha, let me know if you try it!

    Thanks for the kind words, Linda! It is great to be blogging again :)

  11. Oh, I agree, say that name out loud and try not to smile! ;-) That looks absolutely wonderful. I love dal and I love dumplings - what's not to like?! Just one question - what's asafoetida?

  12. I've been toying with the idea of making dal dhokli these last few days... I guess I've got to get on the dhokli bandwagon soon! :) nice write-up asalways, Nupur :)

  13. Hi Nupur, after an unsuccessful attempt with Dal Dhokli I had to try out your recipe (addition of spinach made it even more tempting) :)
    My hubby and toddler son loved it! Thanks for the lovely post!

  14. Even before I saw that there was tamarind (which I love) I knew I wanted some of this. Just fantastic.

  15. I need to try this now. Looks delicious !!

  16. All of it looks simple delicious! I must make it!

  17. hi nupur, how are you? gosh, i'm so embarrassed. last time i visited your blog you were still in NY(?). when did you move to st. lou? have you been to soulard yet? and jay international, and global in kirkwood? so envious that you and alanna get to see each other. i'll be visiting again....

  18. hi nupur, nice to know you already made new [and close] friends in st.louis thru blogging events , just saw yr photo in yr friends blog taken at such an event. you look great . .......dal dhokli is such a wonderful meal in itself and the dal is magnanmous enough to accommodate anything in it, so you just about try any combos. one such is to stuff mashed potatoes in atta, close them like potlis [they look like stuffed pouches] tie the mouths with some thread like herbs and leave them gently in the dal to bob and try it sometime........luv,yoma.

  19. We had this for dinner tonight and loved it. It was a treat every time I bit into dhokli. Thank you for yet another winning recipe, Nupur :)

  20. Nupur, I forgot to ask y'day. Where do you use peanuts mentioned along with other ing?

  21. Did you know there's a Maharashtrian version of this? It's called Chakolya or Daal-phala, depending on where you're from. Check out my blog! :)


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