Dhoka- One of my favourite dishes..hindi mein bole to " Dhoke mein mat rehna" ( really hard to translate- Do not live in illusion). As a Probashi Bong, the name would be quite double meaning to me..but no doubt the taste would leave a distinct flavour and texture.
But honestly, every time, I made an effort to cook Dhoka, I would not be impressed as either I would not get the right texture, or the tightness in the dhoka or the flavour. And ofcourse, not to mention.. just at the point of serving, the dhokas would fall apart due to lack of bonding. And then the magic Ready to Cook Masala Dhoka Mix Packet was introduced by my mum...and dot on..since then no failures. Every attempt has been super duper and star attraction on the dinning table. Honestly, this is not praising myself..but what I mean is that I did not have those previous complaints like dhokas falling apart etc.
Hence, these packets are one of those essential items in my suitcase on my way back from my holidays in India. It is just an easier and quicker method to cook this authentic and traditional bengali dish without the complex efforts, although the taste remains intact.
Not many ingredients had been used-
1 packet Cookme Masala Dhoka
2 tsp- Cinnamon powder- I just dry roast the cinnamon and grind them.
Cumin Seeds- 1tsp
Ginger grated- 1 tsp
Cumin Powder- 1tsp
Turmeric Powder- 1 tsp
Chilli Powder-1 tsp
Bay Leaf and Dried Red Chilli- 1 or 2 each
Green Chillies- 2-3 nos.
Garam Masala- 1 tsp
Sugar- 2 tsp
Tomato - 1 - I pulsed it in my grinder
Some Freshly chopped Coriander leaves
Salt - to taste
What happened in my Kitchen-
1. Fried the Dhoka diamond pieces as per the packet instructions. Ofcourse this is the time I really have to control myself from throwing in some of the fried dhoka pieces in my mouth..specially the corner pieces.
2. To the same hot oil, added the cumin seeds, Bay Leaf and Dried Chilli. Once the flavour infused, I added the Ginger and the cinnamon powder and let it cook for couple of minutes.
3. I stirred all the spices except the Garam masala with the tomato paste. Then poured the paste to the oil and let it cook till colour changed to brown. The sugar and the cinnamon powder helps this caramelising stage.
4. After 4-5 minutes of cooking when oil separated on the edges, I poured about 2 cups of hot water and let it boil.
5. Added the Dhoka pieces to the boiling gravy and covered it for few minutes to let it simmer.
6. Just before finishing off, I added 1 tsp of ghee and garam masala and garnish with coriander leaves.
6. There is a very important point to remember, generally after cooking, the gravy thickens on standing. The Dhoka pieces have an amazing capacity to absorb the fluid and get softer and fatter. So I generally finish it with generous amount of gravy. Sometime, I do keep some gravy separately in a bowl. Just before serving, I reheat the gravy and add it to the dishes if required.