Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dhoka'r Dalna and the Deathly Hallows

Cooking has not been on my mind lately. I must admit that all I have been thinking of in the last few weeks is the release of the last Harry Potter book - The Deathly Hallows. My husband does not understand what this series has to captivate me so, he keeps harping on the fact that it's a'Kid's book for crying out loud' but I manage to ignore him compltely at such times :-)

Back to the book, I don't know what it is, maybe it takes me back to my own childhood years, though it was nothing as exciting as Harry's, maybe it is the time-old struggle between good and evil. I don't think JK Rowling's work is a literary masterpiece but indeed it transports me to a whole new world, and keeps me captivated, reading well into the we hours of the morning, regardless of the fact the next morning I have an early morning meeting at work and need to present in that meeting and really should get a good nights sleep. Sadly neither my husband or any my friends (expect D, thank God for her!) has any interest whatsoever in talking about who is expected to die in book 7? Is Snape really good or evil? Is Harry a Horcrux? What is the relation between Harry and Slytherin? And so many more unanswered questions... *I can't wait for to read the book, as I have pre-ordered it, I hope I'll receive it on 21st July*

I expect most non-Harry Potter fans have dozed off before reaching this far, but for anyone interested, here is a pretty good site http://www.beyondhogwarts.com/. Just a few minutes back I found out that the last book (to be released on July 21st 2007) had been leaked and key pages have been scanned and posted at http://www.zendurl.com/h/hallows/ Spoiler Alert!

Oh I almost forgot, I need to post the recipe. I made Dhokar Dalna ages ago, and took the photographs, haven't typed out the recipe yet. Here are the photographs, the recipe is coming up real soon! (I promise)

Dhoka'r Dalna is a quintessential Bengali recipe. My mother said that in earlier generations widows would not eat, anything non-vegetarian, onions or garlic, so during special occassions like weddings this was the dish made for them. I have eaten this hardly 2-3 times in my entire life and it was a good amount of work, but tasted really good. In fact we ended up eating most of the dhoka pieces just after frying even before I made the Dalna.

For the Dhoka:

1 cup chana daal soaked overnight

1 tsp ginger paste

1/4 tsp tumeric (or as needed)

1/2 tsp jeera powder

1/2 tsp dhania powder

1/2 tsp kalonji (also called kala jeera or nigella seeds)

3 tbsp oil

Grind the daal without adding any water. Beat it a few times extra to ensure the dhoka's are soft (kind of like what you'd do for making dahi wadas).

Now mix this paste with the other ingredients except oil and kalonji.

Heat oil in a pan, add kalonji and wait for it to start sputtering.

Add the dal mixture and keep stirring till daal mixture starts to solidify and is at almost dough like consistency and be somewhat sticky. By this time the color of the daal should also be much darker than when you started off.

Take out and spread immediately on a flat dish (A pie dish works perfectly), press it to make it flat and smooth on top. After it cools completely and cut into the shape of your choice (I made barfi like diamond shaped pieces)

Deep fry the dhoka pieces and keep aside. In our home, most of the pieces were eaten this way.

Raw Dhoka's made with Daal:

Dhoka after frying:

For the Dalna:

1 medium potato sliced

2 tbsp jeera powder

1 tsp dhania powder

1 - 1.5 tbsp ginger paste

1 tsp red chilly powder

1 medium tomato chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tsp Bengali garam masala (clove-cinnamon-cardamom powder)

1 - 2 tsp sugar (I think sugar in USA is less sweet, so if making in India use less sugar than I did)

2 tbsp oil

1 tbsp ghee - optional but will make it much yummier :-)

salt and turmeric to taste

Heat the oil and put in the bay leaf.

Then add potatoes and tomatoes. Stir for 5 min.

Add jeera and dhania powder, ginger paste, turmeric, red chilly powder and salt. Keep frying till oil separates from the masala (potatoes will likely be half done by then).

Add the sugar and about 1 cup water.

Add the dhoka pieces, garam masala and cook covered till the potatoes are fully cooked.

Add the ghee and mix well.

There should be quite aq lot gravy when you remove from heat/. Botht he potatoes and the dhoka will absorb the gravy with time to give you a thick gravy which covers all the pieces evenly.

The final dish:

I have always felt most traditional Bengali recipes are very non-vegeratian biased. I must admit this recipe proved me wrong. I really thought it was delicious. Do try it, one can vary the dalna to suit their own tastes!

An interesting variation of this dish which I have never had before has the dhoka made of eggs. Check out Dimer Dhoka here.

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