Having grown up in Gujarat, it is but natural that I have a soft corner for the state’s cuisine. Give me a plate of Gujarati food any day, and I’ll get a goofy grin on my face. It speaks directly to my soul. Choosing just one favourite from the vast ocean that Gujarati cuisine is would be an impossible task for me – I love most of the foods the state has to offer. However, I can safely say that khaman ranks high up there, among the top things I love from amongst them. I’m here today with a recipe for Instant Khaman, an easy version of khaman that doesn’t require any prior soaking of lentils.
There are a couple of different varieties of khaman made in Gujarat – the Vati Dal Na Khaman made using soaked chana dal, for instance, and this instant variety, made using gram flour aka besan. Different families have slight variations in the making Instant Khaman, while the basic ingredients remain more or less the same. I share the simple recipe that I learnt from a Gujarati family friend of ours, years ago, tried and tested a countless number of times.
This Instant Khaman recipe yields beautiful results – pillow-soft, fluffy pieces, the perfect mix of sweet and sour and spicy, extremely delicious. This khaman is steamed in a pressure cooker or steamer, with only a little amount of oil used in the tempering. Citric acid and Eno Fruit Salt are the secret ingredients in this recipe, those that work behind-the-scenes to create spongy khaman.
This is an entirely plant-based dish, one suitable for those following a vegan diet. If you simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering, this Instant Khaman recipe can be made gluten-free as well.
Let’s now check out the proceedure for making Instant Khaman.
Ingredients (yields about 15 pieces):
- 1 cup gram flour aka besan
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 generous pinches of citric acid
- A dash of lemon juice
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon Eno Fruit Salt (plain)
- A little oil for greasing the steaming vessel
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 generous pinches of asafoetida
- 2-3 green chillies
- 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated coconut
1. Take the gram flour in a large mixing bowl. Add in the salt, sugar, turmeric powder and citric acid.
2. Add the water to the mixing bowl and whisk all the ingredients well, until they are properly combined together. Make sure there are no lumps. You should get a batter that is neither too runny nor too thick. Adjust water/gram flour accordingly. Taste and adjust salt and/or sugar accordingly too.
3. Take about a cup of water in a pressure cooker base. Place a stand inside it. Keep the cooker on high flame and let the water come to a boil.
4. In the meanwhile, grease the bottom and sides of a large, wide vessel with a little oil. Place the greased vessel over the stand, in the pressure cooker, and allow it to get hot too. Make sure water doesn’t enter the vessel.
5. When the water in the cooker is boiling, add the Eno Fruit Salt to the batter. Mix thoroughly. Pour all of the batter immediately into the hot greased vessel inside the cooker.
6. Close the pressure cooker. Do not put the weight on. Steam the khaman on high flame for 12-15 minutes.
7. When the khaman is done steaming, let it sit for a few minutes before opening the cooker. Then, remove the khaman.
8. Sprinkle the fresh grated coconut and finely chopped coriander evenly over the khaman.
9. Heat the oil for tempering in a small pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Add in the asafoetida, chopped green chillies and curry leaves and let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Pour this tempering evenly over the khaman.
10. Cut the khaman into pieces using a sharp knife. Serve hot, warm or cold.
1. Citric acid, commonly available in several departmental stores, works best in the making of Instant Khaman. This is an industrially manufactured substance, but considered to be quite safe when used occasionally in small quantities. Read this article by Healthline for more details.
2. Citric acid occurs naturally in citrus fruits like lemon. Therefore, lemon juice can indeed be used as a substitute for citric acid in the above recipe. However, it doesn’t yield the beautifully light and fluffy khaman that you get by using store-bought citric acid.
3. The time taken for the khaman to get steamed differs on the basis of various factors – consistency of the batter, make of pressure cooker, etc. However, anywhere between 12 to 15 minutes works in most cases.
4. Steam the khaman till a skewer inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean. Do not over-steam the khaman, as this might cause them to become hard.
5. Eno Fruit Salt is typically used in Gujarati households for the batter to rise, which goes a long way towards ensuring that the khaman turn out spongy-soft. Make sure you use the plain version, without any flavouring added to it.
6. Add the Eno Fruit Salt at the very end, just before the batter goes into the pressure cooker for steaming.
7. Use a fresh packet of Eno Fruit Salt, every time you make Instant Khaman. Also, do check its ‘best before’ date. Fruit salt that has been open or lying around for some time or past its ‘best before’ date might not work very effectively in the above recipe.
8. For best results, use fresh besan aka chickpea flour which is free of any odours or pests.
9. Baking soda can be substituted for the Eno Fruit Salt, as far as I know, but I have never tried that out.
10. Adjust the quantity of sugar as per personal taste preferences. Ideally, khaman batter should be a good mix of sweet and sour.
11. The khaman batter should neither be too runny nor too thick. Sticking to the ratios of ingredients provided above helps arrive at just the right batter consistency.
12. Sesame seeds can be added in while tempering the Instant Khaman. I haven’t, here.
13. Don’t overdo the citric acid in this recipe. Use only two good pinches for the above quantities of ingredients, and that is enough. More citric acid would make the khaman too sour.
This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of. Every Monday, the members of this group present recipes based on a pre-determined theme.
The theme for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop is #JamvaChaloJi, suggested by the very talented blogger Mayuri, who writes at Mayuri’s Jikoni. All of us are showcasing recipes from Gujarat, for the theme.