Dhoka'r Dalna

A Bengali vegetarian classic of fried lentil cakes, finished in a warm, spicy, ginger-and-cumin laced sauce.

  • Cooking time
    90 minutes
  • Calories
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Dhoka'r dalna is a typical Bengali niramish (without onion and garlic) delicacy. The word 'dhoka' means 'betrayal', so this dish is common on days when families eat a vegetarian fare, and trick themselves into believing the lentil cake, made flavourful with spices, coconut, peanuts, etc., is actually meat! 🤷🏽 It is a rather typical Bengali treat, cooked for guests and special occasions.

The soaked Bengal gram is ground coarsely with spices, dry roasted into a paste, then cut into diamonds and fried. This is the dhoka. It can also be had on its own as a snack with tea. Or, it can be added to dalna (a type of rich gingery sauce).

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16 pieces of dhoka


  • 200 g chhola'r dal (split Bengal gram; soaked overnight)
  • 6 g salt
  • 12 g sugar
  • 10 g green chillies
  • 120 ml water (for grinding dal)
  • 20 g vegetable oil
  • 20 g grated coconut
  • 20 g ginger paste
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 20 g roasted peanuts (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp maida (plain flour)
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)


  • 80 g mustard oil
  • 5 pcs dried red chillies
  • 5 pcs bay leaves
  • 5 pcs cardamom
  • 1 pc cinnamon
  • 5 pcs cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 300 g potatoes (3-cm cubes)
  • 60 g grated coconut
  • 50 g ginger paste
  • 8 g cumin powder
  • 5 g coriander powder
  • 5 g turmeric
  • 3 g kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 50 g tomato (diced)
  • 6 pcs green chillies (slit)
  • 12 g salt
  • 30 g sugar
  • 400 ml hot water
  • 15 g ghee
  • ½ tsp Bengali garam masala



  1. Soak chhola'r dal in water overnight. Strain and grind the dal, coarsely but uniformly, in small batches with salt, sugar, green chillies and water.
  2. Heat 20 g vegetable oil in a pan. Add grated coconut and fry it for 30 seconds on low heat. Then add ginger paste, and fry that too for 20 seconds. Add cumin powder, turmeric and hing, and fry again until the raw smell of the spices goes away.
  3. Add ground chhola'r dal and chopped peanuts. Continue cooking the dal, whilst scraping the bottom of the pan continuously to prevent sticking.
  4. Once the mixture changes colour and gathers in a dough-like ball, transfer it to a flat, greased surface.
  5. Shape into a diamond about 2-cm tall. While the dal is still hot, cut this large diamond into 16 equal diamond-shaped dhokas.
  6. Fry on medium heat in 180°C oil until evenly brown.
  7. Remove from the heat and set aside, while you prepare the curry.


  1. Heat mustard oil until smoking lightly and pale yellow. Temper it with dried red chillies, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and cumin seeds.
  2. Add the potato cubes and fry them on medium heat until golden (about 4 minutes).
  3. Add grated coconut and fry it for 30 seconds until lightly coloured.
  4. Add ginger paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric, kashmiri red chilli powder and hing, and fry the spices until their raw smell goes away. You may need to add a splash of water whenever the pan dries out. Also add the salt and sugar, and after cooking these for a minute, tomatoes and slit green chilies.
  5. Add 400 mlhot water to form the curry. Once it comes to a boil, lower the dhoka one by one. Allow everything to bubble on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes for the gravy to thicken. Don't reduce the curry too much, as it will thicken as the dhokas absorb some of the liquid.
  6. Finish with ghee, gorom moshla and two more slit green chillies for flavour.

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