Food,  Heritage

Dhokha: A faux fish dish from Bihar

Kya aap dhokha khaana chahte hain?

Surprised? Well, I am not asking if you want to be cheated. Dhokha is a vegetarian dish from Bihar. Why is it called Dhokha (literally meaning ‘deception’)? Because it fools you into believing that you are eating fish!

At the moment, we are going through a long phase of festivities in this month of Kartik starting from Dhanteras, and then followed by Diwali, Bhai Dooj and then ending with the Chhat festival. Everything is great. Except that meat dishes are forbidden. It is at times like this that the creative ones in the kitchen churn out faux dishes which look and taste like meat, but are completely vegetarian. Interestingly there is another dish like Dhokha which is called Kele ki machchli. More on that some other day.

Here’s the recipe of Dhokha if you are interested:

Ingredients:

Chana daal – 1 cup
Turmeric powder- 1 and 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder-1 tsp
Red chilli powder- 1 and 1/2 tsp
Black pepper powder- 1/2 tsp
Mustard oil- 4 tblsp
Asafoetida (Hing)- a pinlch
Garlic- 6-8 cloves
Yellow mustard- 2 tsp
Onion-2
Tomatoes- 4
Black mustard seeds (rai)- 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves- for garnish

Method

  • Wash chana daal and soak in water for an hour.
  • Then grind the dal into a fine paste adding lots of water. Add 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder and salt to the paste.
  • Heat a teaspoon of mustard oil in a thick bottomed kadhai and swirl it around to grease the entire surface.
  • Pour the daal mixture in the kadhai and continue to stir continuously until the water dries up and the mixture is cooked well and becomes a thick paste.
  • Grease a steel thaali with oil and transfer the daal mixture to the thaali. When it cools down slightly and can be handled, shaped the mixture into a long triangular pyramid like structure. The purpose is to cut triangular fish shaped pieces.
  • Let the mixture cool, and then cut them into thick triangular pieces.
  • Heat the remaining mustard oil in a kadhai and shallow fry these pieces in batches, taking care not to break them. Keep aside.
  • Make a fine paste of yellow mustard seeds with garlic.
  • Grind the onions. Puree the tomatoes.
  • To make the gravy, remove excess mustard oil from the kadhai, and retain only 1 tsp of oil.
  • Add 1 tsp of black mustard seeds and a pinch of asafoetida. Add the onion paste and saute for a minute.
  • Mix the yellow mustard-garlic paste with a little water, add 1 tsp of turmeric powder, 1 tsp of coriander powder,and 1/2 tsp black pepper powder to the mixture and mix well. Add this paste to the kadhai and stir continuously.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Add the tomato puree and stir till you see the oil bubbling at the sides of the masala.
  • Pour 1 cup of water to make the gravy.
  • Once the gravy boils, slide in the faux fish pieces carefully into the gravy.
  • Switch off the gas after 2 minutes.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.

Try it and tell me whether this worked. It goes best with plain steamed rice.

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