Long ago, in 1969, at the old city of Surat (Gujarat), on Balaji road, stood a grandiose structure of stone. The ‘Balaji girls’ high school.’ Radhika and Bhavna aged 8 and 6 studied there. These young sisters, like every other kid loved to eat from the vendors selling delectable snacks outside their school. The narrow muddy lane not only boasted big spacious homes with intricately designed pillars and fancy verandas with swings, but also 3 vendors at the gate of the school. One selling boiled black channa, one-peppermint sweets and one a very unique and local dish. Usually the sisters always carried home-packed lunch, but always yearned to that one day of the week where they would get their food allowance so they could enjoy their most favoured snack. I’m talking about ‘Rassawalla Khaman Dhokla.’ Their penchant towards it was so much, that the minute the school bell would ring, announcing their lunch break, they would dash out towards the gates, as even a few seconds late would result in waiting in a queue to buy the much in demand ‘khaman’. They even procrastinated playing on that day, as nothing could replace the satisfaction of devouring that tangy and spicy treat. 2 anna’s is all it cost, which is lesser than 25 paisa today. Dhokla’s are quite the popular snack amongst Gujarati’s. And Khaman is a specialty of the Surthi’s. This was a version of it served back then, and with time disappearing quickly. What we see and eat as Khaman Dhokla in the present day is this ultra light, airy, syrup soaked, sometimes sandwiched with layers of chutney, ketchup and paneer version of what really is supposed to be a denser, non syrupy, dry and richer in channa dal flavour – tasting dhokla. You can still find these in a traditional authentic Guajarati kitchen or in the villages where the real style of preparation is still intact. So this was one very popular dish with the kids back then. Barley seen and even unheard to the current generation, this dish is indeed a treat to the taste buds. Served originally in little dried leaf cups the Khaman Dhokla was pan fried and topped with chopped tomatoes, onions and sev. Then a generous helping of a tangy dal like gravy was poured over and served immediately. For those of you who are not familiar with Gujarati cuisine, Dhoklas are a traditional snack, now popular and consumed by people of all nationalities. They are made from a fermented batter of rice and urad dal, whereas Khaman dhokla is made only from ground channa dal. There are many variations to these, but today we are talking about Khaman Dhokla.


For the Khaman

400 gm of Channa Dal

½ tsp Haldi (turmetic)

6-7 spicy Green Chillis chopped finely

1 tbsp Ginger paste

Pinch of Sugar Pinch of Hing (asafetida)

1 tbsp Peanut oil

1 tbsp of Eno (or 1 tsp of soda bi carb)

Salt to taste 2 tbsp Peanut oil

2 tsp Rai (mustard seeds)

1 tbsp shredded fresh Coconut

1 tbsp chopped Corriander

Soak the channa dal for 4 to 5 hours. Coarsely grind the soaked dal, and keep it covered for another 4 to 5 hours for it to ferment. When ready to make, take the ground dal in a mixing bowl, add the all the other ingredients and give it a very good whizz. The eno with make the mixture bubble up and get some air in it. Prepare the steamer, and grease the tin with some oil. Pour the dhokla batter into the dish and steam for about 20-25 minutes. Check if it done by inserting a knife in the middle and if it comes out clean then its done. If not return to steam for a few more minutes. Once ready, pull out and cut them diagonally in diamond shapes. In another small kadai take 2 tbsp of oil, and when smoking hot, add the mustard seeds. As they start to splutter, pour it over the khaman. Sprinkle with shredded coconut and coriander. This can be had as it is, but for the Rassawalla Khaman, follow the recipe below.

For the ‘Rassa’ (gravy)

100 gm Urad Dal

100 gm Chana Dal

100 gm Tuwar Dal

6-7 tomatoes chopped

2-3 pods Cardamom

2-3 Cloves

4-5 Black pepper

2-3 Green Chillis (ground)

3-4 pieces of dried Tamarind soaked in water

Salt to taste

2 chopped Tomatoes

1 chopped Onion

1 cup fine yellow Sev

2 tbsp chopped Corriander

2 tbsp shredded fresh Coconut

Soak the dals for 2 hours and boil. In another pot boil some water and cook the tomatoes in it. Meanwhile, dry grind the cardamoms, cloves and black pepper seeds to a fine powder. Now mash the dals and add to tomato/water. Add green chilli paste, spices and salt. Let it boil for some time and then add tamarind pulp in the end. The consistency of the dal should be on the thicker side. To serve, pan fry the khaman dhokla in some oil. Put them in a deep-dish plate. Pour the dal over the khaman, and top it up with chopped tomatoes, onions coriander, shredded coconut and sev. The original vendor is not around anymore, but luckily there is this one place that still serves this in Surat. Not quite the same recipe, but on similar lines and not bad for Rs. 10 !

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Comment :

Slurrrppp!!! Surat is heaven of super tasty food, especially snacks, ain’t it? Though, I never have had rasawala khaman. Thanks for sharing this info. 🙂

That dish is new to me, but I would definitely like to try it! Yummy looking.



Never had dhokla along with a gravy. The pictures are making me very hungry.

This is so awesome! mouth watering!


defi on my to do, next visit to surat…two thumbs up!


I had this recently with my last visit to Surat. This is the best rasawala khaman I ever had
I still miss the taste. The only thing different is price- it is 15 Rs. Per plate now but so worth it
If you never had this dish- try it
Thanks for sharing receipe

Oh..my…my..I haven’t imagine that my favourite gravvy dhokla location could ever be on internet, I like here’s dhokla alot n whenever I go to the Gujrat, I go to Surat (specially) for this dhokla, I eat this dhokla two times a day really.Nice gravvy


Lovely..is the recipe you shared from the vendor?

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