Idadaa or Khatta Dhokla is a Gujarati savoury snack made by steaming an overnight fermented batter of Rice and Urad Daal. It is soft, savoury and delicious to say the least. To pronounce Idadaa correctly, the first da is pronounced softly and the second strongly, like Daa in Darwin. It is served on its own as a snack, or as a side as a part of the more varied Gujarati Thali/meal as a savoury side to sweet things like Aamras and often Doodhpak ( a kind of Kheer/Rice Pudding ) as shown below.
The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here
- 3 measures rice ( if you can use, parboiled rice / idli rice in combination with a fragrant variety such as Basmati/Krushna Kamod. In a hurry, regular raw, polished rice will work just fine too), see notes ( any measure is fine, as long as you use the same measuring vessel for both daal and rice ),
- 1 measure gota urad dal (skinned whole black lentils), ( if you cannot find Gota or whole skinless variety, use split, skinless variety ), see notes ( for a snack or a side accompaniment for 2 adults, using 1/2 measuring cup of Urad Daal and (1/2×3 = one and a half [1.5] measuring cups of rice will be more than enough ), ( you can use a small glass or cup from your kitchen too, just keep this approximate amount in mind while soaking to avoid accidentally making an unnecessarily large amount of batter ),
- 1 handful poha/parched rice ( completely optional, feel free to skip this if you live in a warm place), soaked for 10 minutes, see notes,
- 2 tbsp ( or more, if you live in a cold place ) sour curd, ( by sour, I mean curd with active culture. The Greek varieties are creamy and thick but they often don’t kickstart or aid fermentation, so use one with live culture ),
- salt, to taste
- 1 tbsp ( or to taste) ginger green chilli paste,
- Peanut oil, to grease the steamer plates + more to serve and temper ( tempering is optional ),
- Freshly cracked or ground, pepper, to sprinkle before steaming ( optional ),
- Gujarati pickle spice mix | Methiya Masalo ( a Gujarati spice mix made of split mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, salt, asafoetida and red chillies, if you cannot find it, you can replace it with plain medium to mildly hot red chilli powder) to sprinkle before steaming ( optional, but recommended),
- Toasted sesame seeds, to sprinkle before steaming, ( optional),
- Finely chopped coriander leaves, to garnish ( optional).
- Typically, Gujarati Dhokla are made using Kanki, tiny broken bits of rice, left over after winnowing and sifting the husked and polished rice. In olden days, the broken bits of a fragrant variety of rice like Krushna Kamod or Basmati, were utilised to make these, or turn it into an Idadaa flour for longer shelf life ( more about the flour in point below ). It used up broken and aesthetically not so pleasing bits into delicious and nutritious food. You can use any variety of rice for this. You can use raw rice / polished rice or parboiled rice, if you are soaking Daal and rice to make the batter. If you are making flour for Idadaa, to store for later use, preferably use raw rice for longer shelf life instead of parboiled rice. If you want the aroma of store bought Idadaa flour, in every 1 measuring cup of rice you use, take out & replace 1/4th measuring cup from it with a fragrant variety like basmati and use.
- Gota Urad Daal is whole bean of Urad but with its skin removed. In my observation , it results in better fermentation than when one uses split Urad Daal with its skin removed. But, overall, both work, so use whatever you have at hand. But do try Gota Urad sometime, if you can find it in your local store.
- The purpose of Poha is to provide simple, easily broken down sugar to feed the bacteria that enable fermentation. It is especially useful in cold climates, when batters take longer to ferment. Just a small handful is enough, once the fermentation starts happening properly, the carbohydrates from rice will sustain it. And in hot weather, you can easily skip it. But if you are facing trouble with fermentation, try adding a handful of poha. It also lends extra softness to the Idadaa.
- Idadaa flour: Some homes also keep a stash of Idada flour which is nothing but lightly toasted ingredients ( rice and daal / millets as per the variants described earlier mentioned above, that are ground to a slight coarsely flour at their favourite flour mill | ઘંટી and used as needed. Some flour mills and Kirana stores also sell the flour pre-ground and packaged. This is an extremely convenient option if you live in Gujarat. Idadaa flour is not the same as Idadaa premixes. The premixes are instant and therefore they contain baking soda by default. Flour is just flour of the ingredients. Source it from a reliable place to ensure the freshness of the flour. To make your own Idadaa flour, lightly toast the rice and the Urad Daal as mentioned in the ingredients. Keep the proportions same as above – 1 part Urad and 3 parts Rice. You don’t need to brown them, just lightly roast to remove moisture. Then you can grind it at home and store. Leave it slightly grainy, do not grind it into a very fine powder basically. Or if you are scaling up with large quantities of Daal and Rice, say a few kilos of the mix, then get it milled at a local flour mill. It is common practice for traditional households to do so several kilos at a time. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place. It will stay good atleast for several months if not longer.
- If you are using the Idadaa flour I mentioned above, take 2 measuring cups of flour ( around 300-350 gms in weight ). Add 2 or more tablespoons of sour curd, depending on the weather. Then add lukewarm water, little by little, and make a thick batter of dropping consistency. Keep the batter thick now because it will loosen up a bit on fermentation. If not, you can always adjust it with more water before steaming. Then follow the rest of the steps from step 7 onwards of the method mentioned below. Even the steaming process remains the same.
- A note about using baking soda/Fruit salt (Eno): While the traditional Dhokla are always made from overnight fermented batter, under unusual circumstances, it is completely okay to add a tsp of Eno/baking soda to the batter. Preferably only use it only if regular fermentation doesn’t happen due to cold weather or you want to make it in a hurry for unexpected guests. It is completely okay to use it once in a while, but naturally fermented batter is always more nutritious and flavourful. Used sparingly in small amounts, baking soda and Eno are not harmful to health. Add baking soda / Eno to the portion of the batter you are steaming just before you pour it into the steamer plate. Mix the batter well. Do not let the mixed batter sit/rest for a lot of time after you have mixed the soda or else the bubbles will escape and the Idadaa will fall flat. So add it just before steaming and only to the portion you intend to steam immediately.
- You can also use other grains in place of rice. They are not traditional varieties but you can be creative. I have used brown rice and millets instead of rice so far. For that, you can either replace all of the rice OR use 1 part rice + 2 part brown rice/ millet/quinoa. Using all whole grains will lead to a more dense texture of dhokla so it is best not to replace all of rice with unpolished whole grain, keep a small amount of polished rice in the batter for softness. You can also make a version suitable for consumption while fasting using Amaranth flour ( Rajgira Atta ) or other suitable/allowed flours. You might not be able to use Urad Daal for fasting versions, so you will need to add cooking soda/Eno as mentioned above. Even grains like Ragi can be used after soaking.
- Soak the Urad Daal in a vessel and the rice in another for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Drain all the water from the dal. Grind in the wet grinder or the grinding attachment of your food processor about 1/2 cup at a time. Do not crowd the grinder jar with all the daal at once. Initially, do not add any water. Once it is coarsely ground add a couple of tbsps of water at a time and grind till its a smooth and fluffy paste. Tip: To check if the Urad Daal is ground properly, drop a small amount of ground daal into a bowl of water, if it sinks, it is not enough light/fluffy, you need to add a tiny amount of water and grind more. You can utilise your wet grinder to do this too.
- Transfer into a deep vessel.
- In the same grinder jar, add rice 1 cup at a time, and grind in the same way as daal. If you are using poha, grind it now along with the rice. You do not need to rinse the jar. Any daal that sticks to the walls of the jar will be mixed with the rice and that is fine since we are going to mix them later anyway. Do not add too much of water else the idli batter will be too watery. A bit of grainy texture to the rice is completely fine. The Idadaa flour from the mill is a little coarse too.
- Transfer this to the vessel containing the ground urad dal.
- Once everything is ground, add curd and mix well with clean hands or a spoon. The urad dal will tend to settle down at the bottom of the vessel, so mix very well.
- Cover with a lid and leave it in a clean place for about 12 hours or overnight to ferment. In cold climates, it might take up slightly longer.
- Once it has fermented well, you can see small bubbles under the surface, even if it hasn’t doubled in size, it is fine, add salt and ginger chilli paste.
- If you plan to use later, do not mix the salt but store refrigerated in an airtight container for later use. When you intend to make Idadaa, take the necessary quantity of batter in a vessel from the refrigerated container, put the rest of it back into the refrigerator immediately and let the amount of batter you intend to use, stand on the counter for a short while or so till it comes to room temperature. Add salt just before using. If you are planning to serve it guests later, your can safely store the batter in the refrigerator section ( not freezer ) for a day. I have not tried to store it longer, so cannot comment if you can store it for longer. But it will behave the same way as idli dosa batter, getting more sour with storage.
Steaming the Dhoklas :
- There is a special apparatus/ plates available for steaming any kind of Dhoklas. If not, do not worry, you can steam it in a regular steel thali, with rims/sides that are 1 inch or more, basically a deep dish/thali. Heat a large pot, large enough to hold the thali you intend with about 1-2 inches of water, not touching the lowest set of moulds and heat it.
- Oil the thalis/steamer plates and spoon the prepared batter filling, to about 1 or 1.5 cm thickness. Idada/Khatta Dhokla are spread thinner than Khaman. Also, the thicker the layer of batter, the more time it will take to steam and get cooked thoroughly.
- Tap gently settling the batter evenly.
- Sprinkle some sesame seeds ( popular but optional ) or freshly cracked pepper or some red Chilli powder or Gujarati methiya masalo ( use either pepper or chilli powder or spice mix but not all together , it will be too spicy) on top all over.
- Once the water is steaming, gently lower the plate/plates into the pan, cover and let them steam for about 8-10 mins.
- Remove the plates from the pan and let it cool on the counter for another couple of mins. Once slightly cool, cut it into squares or rectangle using a knife or a spatula.
- If you let it cool slightly, the squares will come out neat. If it is too hot, you might turn it into a mush. A good temperature range is not vigorously steaming ( like when you just brought it out if the steamer ) but still warm.
- Sprinkle chopped coriander ( completely optional ) to garnish. Serve hot drizzled with peanut oil, or with a chutney or condiment of your choice. A classic summer accompaniment is Aamras ( fresh, ripe mango pulp ). Scoop Aamras with Idadaa! 💕