This traditional bengali recipe of dhokar dalna is a keeper! A vegetarian recipe which is also niramish (no onion no garlic recipe) made of lentil cakes simmered in a simple tomato gravy.
In a bowl, soak chana dal (split bengal gram) in water overnight. Next day, drain away the water,
Grind the soaked chana dal (split bengal gram) with the green chillies to make a fine paste (add very little water if required to make paste).
In a pan heat mustard oil, add ginger paste, cumin powder, sugar, salt and asafoetida powder (hing powder) and fry for a minute. Then add the chana dal (split bengal gram) paste and keep stirring continously. Let it cook for 5-10 minutes till the dal is done and take it off the heat. Don't allow the dal/ lentil to stick to the pan.
Now grease a plate (which has 1.5 -2 inch height around the corners) with little oil and spread this mixture evenly on the plate in the form of a cake with 1.5-2 inch height and let it cool down properly.
The mixture takes the form of a solid cake. Carefully cut this lentil cake down into 2 inch squares.
Heat mustard oil in a pan, slowly slide these 2 inch lentil squares into the pan and fry one side first, flip them the other side carefully to make sure that they don't fall apart.
Fry them in small batches and drain the excess oil over a paper napkin.
Heat mustard oil in a pan, for tempering first add add cumin seeds, asafoetida powder (hing powder), bay leaf ( tej patta), cinnamon, clove, cardamom and dried red chillies. Add potatoes pieces and fry well.
Now add ginger paste, tomato puree, cumin powder (jeera powder), coriander powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and sugar and let the tomato puree cook well on medium heat till the oil separates.
Once the oil has separated, add water and let the potatoes cook. Once the potatoes are cooked, check the gravy for salt/sugar and adjust accordingly.
Add some garama masala powder and ghee into gravy
Finally slowly add the dhokas / lentil cakes to this gravy making sure they don't break.
Let this gravy simmer for another 4-5 minutes, good enough for the dhokas to soak the gravy but not too long for it to become mushy and break apart.
Turn off the heat and the dish is ready to be served. Sprinkle a little bit of garam masala over it.