Traditional Rawa Khaman Dhokla - Steamed Savoury Indian Lentil Cake

by | Jun 21, 2011 | 36 comments

Traditional Rawa Khaman Dhokla

If you have grown up in Mumbai, then you will remember the big fluffy yellow khaman dhoklas that were a staple in most street food takeaway places in the city in all its various suburbs. Khaman Dhokla is a steamed  savoury lentil cake topped with fresh coriander and grated coconut. It is a very popular snack in India's west and originates in the western state of Gujarat. Served with a green chutney and fried, salted green chilies, khaman dhokla is an interesting study in textures and flavours.

Fluffy Indian Steamed Lentil Cake - Khaman Dhokla

There are many different techniques to making the fluffiest khaman dhoklas and each shop has its own secret process. The most daunting of all is when you have to sprinkle water on the freshly steamed cake to make it lighter, spongier and fluffier. The bane of most home cooks, khaman dhoklas often turn out flat and stodgy. They did for me until a visit from mum fixed that. When I had my old site (Gel's Kitchen), these were on top of the most downloaded recipe list on the site. Ever since that site was laid to rest, I have received countless emails requesting the recipe.

Khaman Dhokla with Green Chutney

I was lucky enough to see my mum make these with extreme ease these holidays and try them out a couple of times to perfect the recipe. This recipe will have you making delightfully soft, fluffy and oh so delicious khaman dhoklas instantly. And since they are made of rawa (semolina), they are healthier than their nylon khaman counterparts which happen to be made up entirely of  besan (Gram/Chickpea Flour). Make these dhoklas for your next potluck or picnic and watch them disappear.

Traditional Gujarati Khaman Dhokla






(Steamed Savoury Indian Lentil And Semolina Cake)

Preparation Time - 20 minutes
Cooking Time - 20 minutes
Serves - 4 
For The Dhokla
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp eno [fruit salts]
2 tbsp gram/chickpea flour [besan]
2 green chillies, finely chopped
3/4 cup fresh yogurt
1 cup water
juice of half a lemon
7-8 curry leaves, finely chopped
1 cup fine semolina (rawa)
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
For The Tempering
1/4 cup freshly chopped coriander leaves
1/4 cup grated coconut
2 tbsp oil for tempering
1 tsp mustard seeds

To Make The Dhoklas

Heat water in a steamer and bring to a boil on high heat. Lightly grease a shallow (at least 5cm tall) metal dish (steel/baking dish) with cooking oil and set aside.
Combine semolina, chickpea flour, ginger, green chillies, curry leaves, turmeric powder, salt, sugar, lemon juice and yoghurt in a large bowl. Whisk well with a balloon whisk. Slowly add water and keep whisking for 3-4 minutes until mixture is light and fluffy. Add more water if required to achieve a smooth, slightly thick pouring consistency. Stand for 3-4 minutes. Add Eno and whisk well till mixture rises and doubles in volume.
Lightly pour into the prepared dish, taking care that you don't over handle the mixture. This is to keep the air bubbles in which will get you that gorgeous fluffy texture. Steam in the steamer for 20 minutes. Remove from steamer and stand, covered for 5 minutes.

To Temper The Dhoklas

Heat oil in a small frying pan. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds till they crackle. Pour oil and mustard seeds over the dhoklas. Cut dhoklas into neat squares and serve hot sprinkled with fresh coriander leaves and coconut.


  • Place the dish with the dhokla mixture in a steamer which has been filled with water. Cover the mouth of the steamer with a lid wrapped in a tea towel. Place a heavy weight on top of the cover.
  • The dish needs to be at least 5cm tall. This is very vital to get the right height for the dhokla. Taller dhoklas have a more authentic feel to them as opposed to flatter ones.
  • You may also sprinkle sesame seeds on the prepared dhoklas for added flavour.
  • Khaman Dhoklas keep well for 2 days. They are great prepared a day earlier and need only be steamed for a delicious snack. I have catered very large quantities of these for big groups of people at my brother's wedding and also at a friend's wedding. 
  • I also like to stir through 1/4 cup of spinach or 2 tablespoons of coriander seeds through the batter along with a pinch of garam masala for a tasty variation.

Find More Recipes By CategoryIndian Vegetarian



I love creating easy, vibrant, fresh, everyday recipes and taking gorgeous photos of the food I cook. I have been blogging for 15 years and I have also written a book with over 100 new recipes. If you make a recipe from the blog, Tag @cookrepublic on Instagram. I would love to see!


  1. Madhuli

    Just discovered your fabulous blog via twitter.The Dhokla looks fabulous. My 6 yr old is a great fan of Khaman and I have bookmarked this. Thanks.

    • Sneh

      Thanks Madhuli! My son hasn't warmed up to it yet, but I have hope 🙂

  2. kankana

    Wow Sneh this looks so delicious. I adore dhokla and was planning to make sometime soon. You motivated me 🙂

    • Sneh


  3. Tanvi@SinfullySpicy

    I m in love with all the beautiful cutlery & china..major prop J 🙂 Other than that, dhokla looks awesome 🙂 I make it with exactly the same ingredients, just add sugar to tempering in place of batter.Love how puffy it has come out- been ages since I made or ate this--SOON!!!
    Have a great week ahead!

    • Sneh

      Isn't the sugar in tempering Gujarati style "khatta" dhokla? My mum used to make salty, flatter versions and then temper them with sugar to get a gorgeous caramelized crust. I must try that!

  4. Kulsum at JourneyKitchen

    One of my favorite things too!!! It took me a year of flat and stiff dhoklas to call my Gujarati Aunt for the real deal recipe, which is pretty much same as yours. I do make a quick simple syrup to go over the dhoklas before the tempering though.

    • Sneh

      what kind of Syrup Kulsum?

  5. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    I've eaten many semolina cakes in the past but never a savory one like this! Thanks for re-posting this one.

  6. john@heneedsfood

    I've had this once before and found it quite delicious though it wasn't as fluffy as this!

  7. Joyti

    I can imagine that the semolina would result in a lighter cake than the rather heavy besan. Great idea!
    They look and sound really great. I've actually never had one, but I'll be bookmarking to try it out for myself.

  8. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets

    One of my favorite snacks! Beautiful pics, too.

  9. Shirley@kokken69

    I have to admit that I am not a strong fan of Indian cakes... But your photos have showcased them well, Sneh. And oh, great new look. Very fun and friendly!

    • Sneh

      Thanks Shirley!!

  10. rebecca

    looks great a new dish to me 🙂

  11. Smita

    I simply love ur clicking n styling skills ... each n every picture is a treat to both eyes n palate .

    • Sneh

      Thanks for the kind words Smita 🙂

  12. Lakshmi

    have always loved dhoklas.... nd u have made these for a wedding... u have some grt skills

    • wizzythestick

      I love the diversity of Indian cuisine. Even though there is a large Indian population in my country this dish is entirely new to me.

  13. Holly

    Wow Sneh! Thank you for introducing Dhokla to me! They look so fluffy and vibrant in colour...I love it! x

  14. Jun

    Lovely cake. I love reading about cuisines from other cultures and Indian cuisine is one of the richest around. Thank you for introducing this to me.

  15. so-mi

    your photos are lovely.
    i have one question: what makes semolina more healthy than besan?
    the fact that they're made from chickpeas is what made me love them.

    • Sneh

      It is a common misconception but "besan" is not actually chickpea flour, at least not "that" chickpea. The traditional chickpea that you we use in curries, salads and soups is the garbanzo variety that is slightly bigger in size than the "gram" or "channa" variety (as known in India). The besan is actually gram flour. Nutritionally, besan and semolina might both have great values, but per 100g besan has roughly 5 times more fat than semolina, making semolina lighter. Besan's sodium content is much higher than semolina, which could account for the incredibly thirsty feeling you get after having a lot of besan. That somehow ends up making you feel more bloated (from my experience). In Western cuisine and in moderation, besan is great. But in India, where besan is used practically every other day in the form of sweets, fried snacks, steamed snacks .. the general consensus is that semolina is easier to digest and much lighter when consumed in larger quantities.

      I hope that makes sense :-). I love my chickpea and need to cook with it every few days.

  16. Sarah

    This looks awesome! I never like dhokla till recently when I started loving it! Now its the first thing I go for at a chaat shop! Thanks for the recipe! and it just takes 20+20 min to make them!!! this is bookmarked! thanks for the tips and tricks and the awesome recipe!!

    • Sneh

      You are absolutely welcome Sarah. Hope these turn out well for you too!

  17. SmultronSoul

    Hi Sneh, so nice to discover your blog! Love the photography! Heidi of 101Cookbooks posted it. I wondered if you knew of a substitute for Eno? I can't find it here in Stockholm, I've tried the Indian store... I would love to make Bombay dhokla!

  18. Cheeku Bhasin

    Hi Sneh,
    Loved the write up and pictures of your dhokla. I am posting a link to your recipe on my own besan dhokla recipe, do take a look when you have a chance.
    I have also recently published a cookbook on healthy Indian food.
    Best wishes,
    Cheeku Bhasin

  19. Rushi

    Hi Sheh,
    I'm so happy that I stumbled across your beautiful blog. It's awesome! I can't wait to try out your recipes.
    One little question, I can't seem to find eno (fruit salts) over here, can I simply leave it out or is there something I can use as a sub?

  20. paula

    Could you substitute the fruit salts with something else?

    • Sneh

      You could use bicarbonate of soda and citric acid although the result is a bit different.

  21. Gerald Allman

    I have previously tried making Dhokla just with besan, they were nice and light when warm but like rocks when they cooled and I would like to eat them at a later time! Does the semolina make a much lighter Dhokla than Besan. Also could I ask what type of steamer you would recommend. I am using a dedicated Dhokla cooker with 3 pans stacked - the problem is that they are only 3cm deep as opposed to the 5cm you recommend.

    • Sneh

      The semolina does make a lighter dhokla, more moist and fluffy too. I usually use a round cake pan, greased lightly with oil and place in a large stockpot filled with a bit of water and a small bowl overturned at the bottom to place my cake pan on top of. I then steam it with the lid covered, unconventional but I like to control the height of my dhokla. My traditional steamer is like yours and doesn't have the height. Traditional dhoklas are meant to be quite flat, whereas "khaman" dhoklas are taller and fluffier.

      • janet

        These look lovely, am trying besan for the first time. and see on the packet it is chana dahl, so no chick peas? I have seen a recipe for chick pea flour saying to grind dried chickpeas so this is not right then? Any help would be great, my husband has been diagnosed as diabetic so am trying loads of new things! These look lovely and I have some sugar substitute I could use. Also could the flour be used to make a sort of pastry?

        Thanks in advance, Janet

        • Sneh

          Janet, besan is made from chana daal which is essentially the internal kernel of the black chickpea. So, besan is chickpea flour. You wouldn't get the same result from grinding dried chickpeas as besan is made from grinding the more tender internal part of chickpea. Go for Besan! 🙂 x

          • janet

            thanks very much this looks mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • janet

            oh sorry, could it be used for pastry also?

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.