DHOKA: A DISH FROM MY NANIJI`S CHAUKA (KITCHEN)

Namita Rai
Namita Rai


Doctor Sahib was a frequent visitor to my maternal grandmother or Naniji’s house ‘Beori Kothi’, situated in Golabaazaar, which is a few hours run from Gorakhpur city in eastern U.P.
Naniji was a lively personality, loved to interact with people and entertain guests.
One morning in winters, Doctor sahib dropped in and headed straight to Naniji's pucca brick chauka (kitchen), where she spent most part of her day. She made tea for him of home-made jaggery and asked the ladies of the house to bring a special snack. Naniji was a vegetarian but Doctor sahib was a non-vegetarian.

That morning, a steamed and spicy snack, dark green in colour and round in shape was served. Doctor sahib who was fond of food couldn't resist a bite. 

Tasting the snack, he closed his eyes and savoured its taste. The snack was tender but firm. It was salty, spicy and a bit astringent in taste. It was fresh and smelled of Indian herbs.
He looked at Naniji and said, "It’s good that now you have started eating meat as this piece of Kaleji (liver) is not only out of this world, but also has high nutritional value".
Naniji could not hold back her laughter. She laughed until tears rolled out of her ageing eyes and chuckled, “Oh, Doctor sahib, you have been deceived by this dish so early in the morning. What will happen to you for the rest of the day now? Be careful how u go!"
Since then, Naniji started calling that Snack ‘Dhoka’ (or the Deceiver).
As the person eating it was deceived into believing the dish to be meat. The person eating could not make out by its appearance, taste, smell and texture that whether it was a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian dish. Since then, the snack was named Dhoka in Beori Kothi

Dhoka made its way into the modern kitchen when food lovers started watching their health, weight and calories.

Moreover, after Covid-19, this easily available super food was acknowledged as an immunity booster.
I, too arranged a gathering of my childhood friends who were all health conscious and calorie watchers and made Dhoka for them, and served it as a starter with a tadka of curry leaves and mustard seeds in desi ghee. It was accompanied with coriander chutney and jaggery tea.

Even when my close friends left for their houses the taste of this Dish lingered in their mind titillating their taste buds.                 It was much appreciated for its amusing history and the funny, mysterious and unique name it earned in my Naniji's Beori Kothi. 

INGREDIENTS OF DHOKA
1/2kg Bathua (Chenopodium) assortment
2 Amlas (Indian gooseberry)
Besan (split chickpeas lentils) enough to bind it and make a bit tight dough.
2 teaspoon salt 
Paste of 5 green chillies according to taste
1 and ½ garlic  
1 and ½ inch ginger  
2 and ½ tea spoon Garam masala (hot spice powder) 
1 teaspoon red chilli powder.
Two level tea spoon mango powder

RECIPE OF DHOKA

Wash the bathua leaves and amla nicely then boil them in water until they become soft. Squeeze them and let some water drain. Grind them both in a fine thick paste.
Then take 250gm gram split chickpea lentils or chana dal (which has to be soaked in water over night). They are used to bind the grinded Bathua and amla. Now grind coarsely the chana dal and mix it with Bathua and amla. Now, mix the ingredients salt, paste of green chilli, ginger and garlic. Put the red chilli powder and the hot spice mixture. Lastly mix two level spoon mango powder. Then make long rolls and place them on steamer or steam it for at least 20 minutes and then check its tenderness. If it is cooked properly by steam then lift it out to cool. Once it is cooled, cut round pieces in slices. It can be served as it is or as a side dish or a starter or an evening snack. For children and youngsters, it can be fried in desi ghee with a tadka of spluttered mustard seeds or curry leaves. 
Now in modern times people are garnishing it with grated coconut and green fresh coriander leaves.  With tadka of spluttered mustard seeds and red dried chilli as well as few fresh curry leaves. Now, Dhoka is ready to be served with tamarind jaggery chutney or coriander chutney.

Shape - round 
Colour - Dark green 
Taste - Like liver (Kaleji), slightly salty, spicy, astringent taste.
Smell – Earthy smell.
Nutritional value – 
Dhoka has high source of iron.
During pandemic, it served as an immunity booster.
It is low in calories so it helps in weight loss.
Great help in skin care and hair health.
Rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, C and B6.
Helpful in Diabetes, 
Protects the liver 
A great help for eyes.
Dhoka an easily available food is unacknowledged, but in taste is as delicious as Kaleji.
I am sure once you have a chance to taste it, you are bound to be deceived into believing it to be some type of meat.
Now whenever Doctor Sahib came to Kothi, the ladies of the house would say, “Dhoka has come” and break into peals of laughter
From Naniji's chauka to modern kitchen, this traditional and trendy snack, Dhoka is bound to make waves.
***

BIO: Namita is a teacher by profession. She is also a writer and a poetess. She has written articles, memoirs, poems for journals and magazines and press reports for newspapers.

14 comments :

  1. A beautiful write up on Dhoka. The taste lingers on. Congratulations dear Namita.

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  2. so beautiful ..just took took us to the traditional old Indian kitchen...

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  3. Very interesting way to put up a recipe...nostalgic ride too !!

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  4. Very interesting way to put up a recipe Namita...nostalgic ride too !!

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  5. This is so amazing Namita. Great recipe and beautiful storytelling dovetailed into one...

    Please keep sharing..

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  6. Very well written mausi.....i can imagine the yumm taste .......would love to have it some day.....

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  7. Very well written mausi.... I can imagine the yumm taste ....would love to have it someday

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  8. Rashmi Rani VermaJuly 7, 2022 at 7:25 AM

    Such real outpour from the heart. Makes the scene come alive as if it is happening in front of our eyes! Great rendering Namita. Keep it going and sharing traditional village life of India

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  9. This food memoir beautifully incorporates food-laced memories of 'Nani ka Ghar'.
    Food evokes so many precious memories and brings forth various social and cultural ideologies. The article vividly describes the taste, smell, and texture of 'Dhokha' which brings back memories not just of eating food itself but also of place and setting. Beautiful article

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  10. Sadhna SrivastavaJuly 7, 2022 at 7:56 AM

    A traditional recipe rather a recipe that is getting lost has been revived through such a nice story.Superb narration.One can visualise the village chauka and Doctor sahib.
    Looking forward for more such recipes

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  11. This food memoir beautifully incorporates food-laced memories of 'Nani ka Ghar'.
    Food evokes so many precious memories and brings forth various social and cultural ideologies. The article vividly describes the taste, smell, and texture of 'Dhokha' which brings back memories not just of eating food itself but also of place and setting. Beautiful article

    ReplyDelete
  12. Superb narration. I always relish the taste of Dhoka

    Every mention of beauty kothi makes me feel nostalgic

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  13. Thankyou friends for reading and appreciating my article.

    ReplyDelete

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