I had shared the recipe for Instant Khaman (aka Nylon Khaman) on the blog, some time ago. It is made with gram flour (besan), requires no fermentation, and uses Eno to make it soft and fluffy. Today, I am sharing with you how to make khaman the way it is traditionally made in Gujarat, using batter made from soaked chana dal that is allowed to ferment. This is called Vati Dal Na Khaman in Gujarati, which literally translates into ‘khaman made using ground lentils’ in Gujarati.
The fermentation adds flavour to the batter, and makes the khaman soft and springy naturally, eliminating the need for Eno or any other raising agent. Vati Dal Na Khaman are, therefore, definitely healthier than the instant variety. The grinding of batter and the process of fermentation do take effort and time, but the overall process is definitely not very cumbersome. Also, the end result is so worth it, I promise! When made right, Vati Dal Na Khaman turn out perfectly jaalidar (the grainy texture marked with holes, like lace) and absolutely delish. They are slightly more dense as compared to the instant version, but definitely not too chewy or hard.
Vati Dal Na Khaman is also often referred to as Surti Khaman, because of their huge popularity in Surat, Gujarat. Many purists consider only this variety as ‘true’ khaman, and baulk at the instant variety. I happen to love both types, and consume both equally happily. 🙂
Some other interesting khaman/dhokla recipes
Looking for another instant khaman variety that can be put together in a jiffy? Check out this recipe for Instant Rava/Sooji Khaman ! You must also see this Instant Sooji Besan Khaman recipe – this post also mentions the differences between ‘dhokla‘ and ‘khaman‘, two very popular steamed Gujarati snacks.
This Chokha Na Lot Na Dhokla is an instant variety, made using rice flour.
I also have on the blog two different types of Khatta Dhokla, made using naturally fermented batter. Check out this and this. These Mug Na Dhokla are made using fermented batter ground from whole green moong beans.
Ingredients used in Vati Dal Na Khaman
Vati Dal Na Khaman are made in different ways in different households. Some make it with rice, some without. Some use Eno or baking soda, too. I typically rely on this recipe by Srujan of Diving Into My Pensieve, which she has adapted from Aneri, a cookbook by Nayana Shah. I have tried Srujan’s recipe several times over, and it always turns out beautifully.
This recipe uses chana dal, urad dal, and flattened rice (poha), all of which are soaked and then ground to a batter. A paste of ginger and green chillies is used for flavour, as well as lemon juice and jaggery powder. The batter is then steamed in a pressure cooker, allowed to cool, then cut into pieces. These pieces are then tempered with mustard, sesame seeds and asafoetida, and are served garnished with finely chopped coriander.
How to make Vati Dal Na Khaman
Here is how to go about it.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
1. 1 cup chana dal
2. 1/4 cup urad dal
3. 1/4 cup flattened rice (poha)
4. Salt to taste
5. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
6. 3-4 tablespoons sugar/jaggery powder or as needed
7. A 1-inch piece of ginger
8. 2 green chillies
9. Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)
10. 1 tablespoon oil
11. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
12. 2 pinches of asafoetida
13. 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
14. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves
1. Wash the chana dal and urad dal thoroughly under running water. Soak them in enough water for 6-8 hours or overnight. Soak the poha in enough water for 20-30 minutes.
2. When the ingredients are done soaking, drain out the water from them. You may reserve this water for use during grinding, later.
3. Add the soaked and drained urad dal and poha to a mixer jar. Grind till smooth, adding only a little water as needed. Transfer to a large vessel.
4. Next, add the soaked and drained chana dal to the mixer jar. Grind coarsely, adding a little water as needed. Transfer this batter to the large vessel too.
5. Add salt to taste, to the vessel. Mix both batters well, using your hands. Set it aside, covered, for fermentation – this might take 12-15 hours.
6. Once the batter has fermented, add turmeric powder and sugar/jaggery powder.
7. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Chop the green chillies roughly. Grind both to a paste in a small mixer jar, using a little water. Add this paste to the batter.
8. Add the lemon juice to the batter too. If needed, add in some water, but not too much.
9. Mix the batter well. Now, you are ready to use the batter to make khaman.
10. Heat about 1-1/2 cups of water in a pressure cooker base. Place a stand inside. Keep the cooker base on high flame for it to get heated up.
11. Grease a wide vessel with a little oil. Place this on top of the stand, inside the pressure cooker. Let it get heated up too.
12. When the water in the pressure cooker starts boiling and steaming, pour half of the batter into the hot, greased vessel.
13. Close the pressure cooker. Steam for about 20 minutes on high flame, without putting the whistle on. Switch off gas when done and wait for 7-10 minutes before opening the pressure cooker.
14. In the meantime, prepare the tempering for the khaman. Heat the oil in a small tempering pan. Add in the mustard, and allow to sputter. Add in the asafoetida and sesame seeds, and let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Pour this tempering over the prepared khaman and spread evenly.
15. Garnish the khaman with finely chopped coriander leaves.
16. Your Vati Dal Na Khaman are ready to serve. Allow to cool down a little, then cut into square pieces using a knife, and serve.
17. Steam and serve the remaining batter too, in the same way.
This recipe is completely vegatarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet. Unlike several other Vati Dal Na Khaman recipes, this one does not use dairy curd.
It is not gluten-free because of the use of asafoetida in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour, to a lesser or greater extent, and are therefore best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. If you want to make these Vati Dal Na Khaman gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering.
This recipe does not use any onion or garlic.
There are no artificial additives like Eno or baking soda used in this recipe, like I was saying earlier. If you want, you may skip adding sugar or jaggery, too, for health reasons. Personally, though, we prefer the khaman with added sugar/jaggery.
Since the Vati Dal Na Khaman is cooked by steaming, there is minimal oil used, only in greasing the vessel and in the tempering. You may skip the tempering altogether, if you wish. I would definitely recommend the tempering – it adds such a flavour punch to the khaman!
Tips & Tricks
- Adjust the quantity of salt, sugar or jaggery powder, green chillies, and lemon juice as per personal taste preferences.
- I have used the medium-thick variety of poha here, from a brand called Bhagyalakshmi. That is what I use to make Batata Poha. You may use any type of poha instead.
- The time taken for the batter to ferment may differ from one place to another, depending upon the weather conditions. For me, it usually takes about 10 hours in the summer and 12-15 hours in cold weather.
- The batter needs to be very well fermented for the Vati Dal Na Khaman to turn out springy-soft and flavourful. If the batter doesn’t ferment well for some reason, you may add some Eno Fruit Salt (plain flavour) just before steaming it. I usually don’t need to.
- Citric acid (also called ‘nimbu ke phool‘ or ‘saji na phool‘) can be used in place of the lemon juice. Read my detailed notes about the use of citric acid, here. For Vati Dal Na Khaman specifically, I prefer using only lemon juice.
- If the batter is quite sour, you may skip the lemon juice or citric acid completely.
- Remember to wait for at least 7-10 minutes to open the pressure cooker after steaming. Allow the khaman to cool down before cutting it, otherwise it will become a soggy mess.
- Fresh grated coconut and/or curry leaves can also be used in the tempering. Here, I haven’t used them.
- I have used a large 7.5-litre pressure cooker for steaming the khaman. You can do the same in a vegetable steamer or dhokla plate too.
- The batter, once ground and readied, is best used on the same day. However, if there is leftover batter, it can be refrigerated and used for upto 2 days.
- Use very little water while grinding the soaked ingredients into batter. The same goes for the ginger-green chilli paste too. Using too much water can make the batter watery, and the khaman might not turn out perfectly.
- You may also add some garlic cloves, along with the ginger and green chillies. I don’t commonly use it.
- The time taken for the Vati Dal Na Khaman to cook might vary from one household to another, depending upon the type of steamer used and the consistency of the batter. The batter should ideally be runny and thick, not overly thick, definitely not watery.
- For best results, the water in the pressure cooker base and the greased vessel should be well heated up before you pour the batter in.
- Vati Dal Na Khaman can be served with Gujarati Kadhi Chutney and/or with this Papaya No Sambharo. I often also serve them with a mix of spicy Hari Chutney and Meethi Chutney. My blog friend Poonam has shared an Imli Khajoor Ki Chutney recipe that you could use too.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!