Now presenting, the very original Indian pasta- Dal Dhokli! Oh yes, it’s as authentic as fresh Italian pasta gets and if this is not Indian, nothing is. A recipe which has dal, gram flour (besan), whole mustard seeds, curry leaves, tamarind and jaggery- is just so Indian! I have to credit the link of the dal dhokli to pasta, to one of my aunt’s who when visiting her grandson in the US was requested by him to make pasta. This granny did not know how to make pasta but she sure knew what could be marketed as one! Promptly she made some delicious Dal Dhokli and served it, to her really thrilled-to-bits grandson and became a cool granny- forever!. 🙂
I have had varied versions of the dal dhokli in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. But the basic recipe- dough rolled and cut into diamond/square pieces and cooked by dropping it in boiling liquid-y dal made out of red gram dal (toor dal) and spiced with mustard, tamarind and sugar/jaggery. The way I make it, is by slightly modifying my mommy-dear’s recipe. When binding the dough, I use a mix of whole wheat flour and gram flour (besan) and I also add some garlic to the dal. If you know how to make gujarati dal or the maharashtrian aamti, all you need to do is mix 1 part besan with 2 part whole wheat flour, season with salt and red chilli powder, add a tsp of oil to the dough and bind it with water. Now roll this like a chapati, cut it into small diamond shapes and drop them in the boiling dal/aamti. Cook al dente just like pasta and serve with a dollop (1/2 tsp!! haha!) of desi ghee! Deliciousness!
You will need:
For the dhokli:
1/2 cup besan
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp red chilli powder
salt to taste
1 tsp oil
Some water (about one cup) to bind the dough
– Mix all of the ingredients except water. Make a well in the flour and begin by adding a little water to it and mixing it well. Add water till it makes a dense but soft dough. Knead this well for five minutes and then keep it aside.
For the dal:
1 cup cooked toor (red gram) dal (cook this in the pressure cooker by adding 2 cups of water or just boil it till cooked and soft)
1 tsp whole mustard seeds
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing)
1 tsp turmeric powder
4 cloves of garlic
6-8 curry leaves
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 inch piece of tamarind, soaked in 1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp jaggery or a piece the size of a walnut
salt to taste
– Roll the dough into chapatis (0.5 inch thick) and then cut it into 1.5 inch diamond shapes or squares or whichever shape you want. You can even be adventurous and use a small cookie cutter for this.
– In a tray or on kitchen paper, sprinkle some whole wheat flour and on that put out these diamond shaped dhoklis.
– Next, in a deep pan/vessel, warm the oil then make tadka by adding the mustard seeds, turmeric, hing, curry leaves and garlic. Keep the cooked dal ready by mashing it to a smooth consistency well. Add the cooked dal to the tadka, mix well taking care that the dal does not stick to the bottom. Then add the remaining chilli powder, tamarind and jaggery. Adjust the thickness of the dal to pouring consistency (remember that the dal will thicken further when you add the dhokli to it). Bring the dal to a boil and then add the ready dhoklis to this and boil this mix till the dhokli is cooked al dente (this you can test by inserting a fork into it or just sampling one by eating it). Ensure that it is well seasoned.
– Serve hot by garnishing with some desi ghee and coriander.
P.S. : Because the sauce is of soup-like consistency, if you cook this and keep, it will become one huge thick mass. If you have to make this in advance, keep the dal and the dhoklis ready and cook them together just 10-15 minutes before serving.
Update: Thanks to Garima for bringing this to my notice. I also add 1 tsp of ajwain (carom seeds) to the dough. Oopsies!