Khaman Dhokla (Savory Gram Flour Cake)

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This khaman dhokla recipe makes a wonderfully soft and fluffy, lightly sweet and savory cake that’s perfect to enjoy anytime of the day. It’s easy to prepare steamed on the stovetop or even in the Instant Pot with my step-by-step photos, video and instructions.

45 degree angle shot of khaman dhokla squares on a white plate garnished with cilantro, curry leaves and the fried curry leaves and spices mixture

What is Khaman

Khaman, also known as khaman dhokla in other Indian states, is a popular delicacy from the Gujarati cuisine.

It is light, spongy and includes a hint of great savory flavor from a simple combination of gram flour (besan), spices, and herbs. Gram flour is ground skinned black chickpeas.

Khaman is a healthy savory-sweet snack that happens to be vegan. Plus, it can be gluten-free too, if you skip semolina and asafoetida in the batter.

Khaman is also known as yellow dhokla as it has a yellow color or besan dhokla. It is also known as instant khaman.

I prepare khaman dhokla with the steaming method either in an Instant pot or in a pan.

They’re perfect to enjoy for a hearty and satisfying breakfast or an afternoon or evening snack.

What is the difference between dhokla and khaman dhokla?

Khaman is popularly referred to as khaman dhokla but in actuality, a dhokla is made differently than khaman.

Dhokla is made with ground, fermented batter of rice and lentils like chana dal or urad dal. You can check my recipe for an authentic Dhokla made with rice and chana dal.

While khaman is made instantly with gram flour. Khaman batter is not fermented unlike a dhokla batter.

In the taste department, fermentation gives dhokla a really complex flavorsome taste, but a khaman also tastes equally great.

The color of dhokla can range from cream to light yellow or yellow but a khaman always has a bright yellow color.

Eno (Fruit Salt)

eno bottle

As a leavening agent, we use in this khaman recipe is fruit salt. Eno is a popular Indian brand of fruit salt that is used to relieve acidity and heartburn.

Fruit salt is composed of citric acid, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and sodium carbonate.

Sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate are effervescent ingredients that bubble and release carbon dioxide when added to water.

Baking Soda or Eno

To make khaman, you can also use baking soda. But baking soda gives its soapy aroma if used in excess, so be careful not to add too much.

Eno gives you a perfect fluffy and soft khaman while the one made with baking soda is not that fluffy or spongy.

I personally prefer to use eno in khaman as it gives the best results. I do not favor baking soda, as firstly we cannot stand the soapy aroma and secondly the texture is not that airy or spongy in comparison to the khaman made with eno.

Use eno that is fresh and within its shelf period. If your eno is not fresh or active, the texture of khaman will be flat and dense. And please do not use flavored eno – the regular eno without any flavor works the best.

Both eno and baking soda react with turmeric powder and gives a red tinge or red spots in khaman dhokla. So add little turmeric powder or skip it completely.

top view of the round steamed khman dhokla topped and garnished with the tempered spices, coriander leaves, and fresh grated coconut

Lemon juice or citric acid

I have made khaman both with lemon juice and citric acid. Citric acid gives a superb fluffy texture. Lemon juice also works great, but citric acid wins here. That said, use whatever is easily available to you.

To swap citric acid with lemon juice, use this standard proportion of:
1 tablespoon lemon juice = ¼ teaspoon citric acid (in the powdered form)

For citric acid, use a food-grade and pure citric acid. I also suggest including freshly squeezed lemon juice. Use a fresh lemon.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Khaman Dhokla Recipe

Preparation

1. Grease a steamer pan with 2 to 3 teaspoons oil.

round pan greased with oil

Making Batter

2. Take 1.5 cups gram flour (120 grams besan) in a mixing bowl or pan. Do use gram flour which has a fine texture.

TIP: You can make khaman with chickpea flour as well.

besan with a measuring cup in a mixing bowl

3. The add the following ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 pinches of turmeric powder
  • a generous pinch of asafoetida (skip to make a gluten-free version)
  • 1.5 tablespoons lemon or lime juice or ⅓ to ½ teaspoon pure citric acid
  • 1.5 teaspoons ginger paste (crush 1.5 inch ginger and 1.5 teaspoons green chilies in a mortar-pestle)
  • 1.5 teaspoons green chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or add according to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt or add as per taste

TIP: Avoid adding too much of turmeric powder as then the fruit salt or baking soda reacts with the turmeric powder and makes it red in color, thereby giving reddish dots, specks or tones in the khaman.

spices, salt, herbs added to besan

4. Add 1 cup water (or more or less as needed) and 1 tablespoon oil to make a thick yet smooth flowing batter. The amount of water needed depends on the quality of flour, so start with 1 cup and add as required. Stir well to combine.

water added to besan

5. Then add 1 tablespoon rava (semolina). This is entirely optional but adds a good texture to the khaman. Skip rava or semolina for a gluten-free option.

semolina added

6. Stir with a whisk to create a smooth, thick batter without any lumps.

whisked to a smooth batter to make khaman dhokla

Consistency of Batter

7. The batter should be thick yet flow easily off of the whisk. A quick tip is that if the batter becomes thin, then 1 to 2 tablespoons of gram flour.

Next bring 2 to 2.5 cups of water to a boil in a steamer pan or electric cooker or pressure cooker. The amount of water to be added depends on the size of the steamer or pressure cooker.

NOTE: To know more about the steaming in a pan, cooker and Instant Pot in detail, do read the tips section below.

batter consistency being shown with batter falling from the wired whisk

Leavening khaman batter

9. Next add 2 teaspoons Eno or fruit salt. 2 teaspoons of Eno makes the khaman soft and fluffy. But there is a slightly alkaline taste to Eno.

If you’re not a fan of this flavor then add only 1.5 teaspoons of Eno. If using baking soda as your leavening agent add ½ teaspoon to ¾ teaspoon.

eno being added to the batter from a measuring spoon

10. Stir the eno with the batter briskly and quickly.

eno being mixed in the besan batter with a wired whisk

11. The fruit salt should be mixed evenly with the batter. Or else you get uneven texture in the khaman.

frothy bubbly khaman batter being whisked

12. The eno will make the batter become frothy, so you need to work quickly to whisk it in thoroughly.

batter being whisked

12. Pour the prepared batter into the greased pan.

batter poured in the greased pan

13. Gently shake so that the batter evens out in the pan. Below is a picture of the batter ready to be steamed.

khaman batter in the greased pan

Steaming Dhokla

1. Place the pan in a steamer or electric rice cooker or pressure cooker. The water should already be boiling or hot when you place the pan with the khaman batter. When using a pressure cooker, remove the vent weight/whistle from the lid and cover the cooker tightly with its lid.

NOTE: I have listed the detailed directions of steaming in a pan, pressure cooker and Instant pot in the tips sections below.

pan kept in a steamer for steaming

2. Steam for 15 to 20 minutes in an electric rice cooker. If using a pan or pressure cooker or Instant Pot, steam for 12 to 15 minutes on a medium to medium-high heat. In the below photo the khaman is cooked for 17 minutes using an electric rice cooker.

You can begin working on the spice and herb solution for tempering the khaman while it cooks. Continue reading for the instructions.

steamed khaman dhokla ready

3. To check the doneness, insert a toothpick. It should come out clean if the khaman is done. If the toothpick has the batter on it, then you need to steam for another minutes or so.

checking khaman with a bamboo toothpick

4. Let the khaman become warm or cool completely. Gently slide a butter knife along the edges to release the khaman from the pan. Place a plate or tray on top of the pan.

inverted plate on top of the pan with the steamed khaman

5. Then quickly invert the pan.

pan inverted and on top of the plate

6. If greased well, the khaman will easily slide out onto the plate.

steamed khaman dhokla on the plate

7. Use a sharp knife to slice the khaman in squares and set aside until ready to temper. Since I used a concave plate, the khaman settled down in the center. This won’t happen if you use a flat plate.

sliced khaman

Preparing Tempering

1. Tempering is essential to infuse the khaman with flavor and add moisture to the gram flour sponge. To make the temper, first heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a small pan on the stove. Use peanut oil or any neutral-tasting oil.

oil being heated in a small black pan

2. Add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds and allow them to crackle.

mustard seeds crackling in the oil

3. When the mustard seeds are crackling, add 10 to 12 curry leaves, and, if you like, 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds and 1 teaspoon of chopped green chili.

more spices and herbs getting fried in the oil

4. Stir and then add 2 teaspoon white sesame seeds.

white sesame seeds added to the hot oil

5. Fry the sesame seeds for some seconds. But don’t brown them or they’ll become bitter.

sesame seeds getting fried in oil

6. Next carefully add ⅓ cup of water. You can switch off the heat when adding water.

pouring water in the oil

7. Then add 2 teaspoons of sugar.

sugar being added with a measuring spoon

8. Stir and allow the tempering mixture to come to a boil. Make sure that the sugar is dissolved.

tempering mixture of oil, water, spices and herbs simmering on a lit stove-top

Making Khaman

9. Remove from the heat and immediately pour this tempering mixture evenly on the khaman dhokla so that it seeps through the sliced edges.

tempering mixture poured on the prepared khaman

10. Garnish with 2 to 3 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves and 2 to 3 tablespoons grated coconut, if you like.

khaman dhokla garnished with coconut and coriander leaves

Serving Suggestions

12. Serve the khaman dhokla straight away or you can store it in an airtight box and serve later after an hour. If enjoying khaman later after several hours, then don’t add coconut until ready to eat.

You can also refrigerate them, and then when ready to serve just sprinkle some water and heat in a microwave for a few seconds until just warmed.

a tender soft block of khaman kept on top the round steamed cake with some khaman cubes at the side on a black granite tray

What to eat with Khaman

The sweet, savory, fluffy cakes pair great with our usual assortment of Indian chutneys like Papaya Chutney, Mint Chutney, or even Coriander Chutney.

We also like to pair it with Tamarind Chutney. You can also serve it as a healthy snack with your evening chai.

Storage

If you plan to serve khaman after a few hours or next day, then I do not recommend to add coconut or coriander. Simply pour the tempering.

Refrigerate the khaman in a covered container. While serving you can warm with a sprinkling of water in a microwave or an oven.

If using the instant pot to warm, then steam for 1 to 2 minutes. While serving add the coconut and coriander leaves.

Tips

Expert Tips for Dhokla

Batter Consistency

The batter consistency has to be flowing but thick to medium-thick. 1 cup water with 1.5 cups of gram flour, always gives me perfect results, but you can add a few tablespoons of water if your batter looks very thick. A super thick batter will make the khaman hard and dense. A thin batter won’t hold shape and will become a mess.

Steaming

You can steam khaman in a pan, stove-top pressure cooker, or in an Instant Pot. I list below in detail on steaming khaman in each.

1. Steaming in a pan or pot

  • Place a small trivet in a large steaming pan that has enough room to keep the pan with the batter. Pour 2 to 2.5 cups of water. Bring it to a boil.
  • Place the batter pan as soon you mix with eno. Cover with a lid (not tight fitting) but one that has a vent or will allow some steam to pass through.
  • Steam for 12 to 15 minutes on medium-high heat. The deeper the pan is in touch with the boiling water, the faster the steaming is. If it is away from the boiling water, the steaming will take a bit more time.

2. Steaming in a stove-top pressure cooker

  • Place the trivet in a pressure cooker. Add 2 to 2.5 cups water. Heat the water until it begins boiling. Secure the pan tightly between tongs and carefully place it on the trivet.
  • Remove the whistle (vent weight) from the lid and seal the lid tightly. Steam for 12 to 15 minutes on medium to medium-high heat.

3. Instant Pot Steaming

  • Pour 2 to 2.5 cups of water in the steel insert of your IP. Place a trivet (not short or long, but kind of in between).
  • Use the sauté function and let the water get heated up and start simmering.
  • Using tongs or with oven mitts carefully place the pan with the khaman batter on the trivet. Do not cover with any lid.
  • Cover and seal IP with its lid and keep the vent position to steam release. Press the steam button and steam on high pressure for 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Keep a check of the time using a clock or watch as Instant pot does will not beep after the elapsed time and will continue to steam. Let all the pressure release and the valve fall down. Then open the lid carefully.

FAQs

Why is my dhokla not spongy?

The sponginess and light texture in a khaman dhokla comes from reaction of eno with lemon juice or citric acid releasing carbon dioxide. This reaction creates a fizzy bubbly mixture that helps the batter to rise and leaven thereby making it fluffy and spongy when steamed. So if you use less leavening agents (eno, baking soda) or if they are not fresh or active, your khaman won’t be spongy.

Why did my dhokla turn orange or red?

Turmeric powder reacts with baking soda or eno to give orange or red colored spots or patches in khaman dhokla. This makes your khaman turn orange or red. This can be avoided by adding less turmeric powder to the batter.

Is dhokla eaten hot or cold?

It can be eaten warm or at room temperature.

Why is my khaman dhokla bitter?

Adding too much of leavening ingredients like baking soda can make your dhokla bitter.

More Popular Gujarati Snacks!

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45 degree angle shot of khaman dhokla squares on a white plate garnished with cilantro, curry leaves and the fried curry leaves and spices mixture

Khaman Dhokla Recipe

This khaman or khaman dhokla recipe makes a wonderfully soft and fluffy, lightly sweet and savory cake that's perfect to enjoy anytime of the day. It's easy to prepare steamed on the stovetop or even in the Instant Pot with my instructions.
4.83 from 63 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Cuisine Gujarati, Indian
Course Breakfast, Snacks
Diet Vegan, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level Easy
Servings 6
Units

Ingredients

For batter

  • 1.5 cups gram flour (besan), 180 grams
  • 1 tablespoon rava (or semolina) – optional
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1.5 inch ginger crushed to a fine paste in a mortar-pestle
  • 1.5 teaspoons chopped green chillies crushed to a fine paste in a mortar-pestle
  • 2 to 3 pinches turmeric powder
  • 1 to 2 pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 tablespoon oil – any neutral oil or peanut oil
  • 1.5 to 2 teaspoons eno (fruit salt) or ½ to ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt or as required
  • 1.5 tablespoon lemon juice or ⅓ to ½ teaspoon pure food grade citric acid
  • 1 cup water or add as required

For tempering

  • 2 tablespoons oil – any neutral oil or peanut oil
  • cup water
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds – optional
  • 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves – about 10 to 12 curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or add as required

For garnish

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro leaves
  • 2 to 3 tablespoon grated fresh coconut

Instructions
 

Making khaman batter

  • Grease a steamer pan with 2 to 3 teaspoons of oil.
  • Take besan or gram flour in a mixing bowl or pan.
  • Add turmeric powder, asafoetida, lemon juice, ginger paste, green chilies paste, sugar, oil and salt.
  • Add 1 cup water or as required to make thick yet flowing water. The amount of water required depends on the quality of flour, so add as required.
  • Stir and then add the rava or sooji (semolina).
  • Stir to a smooth thick batter without any lumps.
  • The batter should be thick yet flowing. A quick tip is that if the batter become thin, then add 1 to 2 tablespoons besan. 
  • Bring to a boil 2 to 2.5 cups of water in a steamer pan or electric cooker or a stove-top pressure cooker. 
  • The amount of water to be added depends on the size of the steamer or pressure cooker.
  • Now add the eno or fruit salt to the batter.
  • Stir briskly and quickly. The fruit salt should be mixed evenly with the batter. Or else you get uneven texture in the khaman.
  • The batter would froth and become bubbly, so you have to be quick.
  • Pour the batter in the greased pan.

Steaming

  • Place the pan in a steamer or electric rice cooker or pressure cooker. The water should already be boiling or hot when you place the pan with the batter. When using pressure cooker, remove the vent weight/whistle from the lid and cover the cooker tightly with its lid.
  • Steam for 15 to 20 minutes in an electric cooker. If using a pan or pressure cooker, steam for 12 to 15 minutes on a medium to high heat.
  • To check the doneness, insert a toothpick and if it comes out clean, the khaman is done. If the toothpick has the batter on it, then you need to steam for some more time.
  • When the khaman become lukewarm or cool, then with a butter knife gently slid along the edges. Keep a plate or tray on top of the pan.
  • Invert the pan. If greased well, the khaman will easily get inverted on the plate. Slice and keep aside.

Tempering

  • In a small pan, heat oil.
  • Add mustard seeds and let them to crackle.
  • When the mustard seeds are crackling, add the cumin seeds (optional), curry leaves and chopped green chilies (optional).
  • Stir and then add sesame seeds.
  • Fry the sesame seeds for some seconds but do not brown them.
  • Then add water. Be careful while adding water as the mixture sizzles. You can switch off the heat when adding water.
  • Add sugar. Stir and allow the tempering mixture to come to a boil. Make sure that the sugar has dissolved in the water.
  • Then pour this tempering mixture evenly on the steamed and sliced khaman.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander seeds and grated coconut.
  • Serve khaman dhokla straight away or you can store them in an air tight box and then serve later after some minutes or an hour.
  • If serving khaman after many hours, then do not garnish with coconut and coriander leaves.

Serving Suggestions

  • The sweet, savory, fluffy cakes pair great with any spicy or sweet Indian chutney.
  • You can also serve it with your evening chai.

Storage

  • If you plan to serve khaman after a few hours or next day, then I do not recommend to add coconut or coriander leaves. Simply pour the tempering.
  • Refrigerate the khaman in a covered container. While serving you can warm with a sprinkling of water in a microwave or an oven.
  • If using the instant pot to warm, then steam for 1 to 2 minutes. While serving add the coconut and coriander leaves.

Video

Notes

Ingredient Notes

  • Eno: Use the regular plain eno without any flavors.
  • Gluten-free: For making khaman gluten free, skip the asafoetida and semolina.
  • Baking soda or Eno: The ingredient which we use to leaven the khaman batter is fruit salt. Eno is a popular Indian brand of fruit salt. You can also use baking soda. However baking soda gives the soapy aroma if used in excess. Again both eno and baking soda react with turmeric powder and gives a red tinge or red spots in khaman. So add little turmeric powder or skip it completely.

Recipe Notes

1. Batter consistency
The consistency of the batter is flowing but thick to medium-thick. 1 cup water with 1.5 cups of gram flour, always gives me perfect results, but you can add a few tablespoons of water if your batter looks very thick. A super thick batter will make the khaman hard and dense. A thin batter won’t hold shape and will become a mess.
2. Steaming
You can steam khaman in a pan, stove-top pressure cooker, or in an Instant Pot. I list below in detail on steaming khaman in each.
a) Steaming in a pan or pot
  • Place a small trivet in a large steaming pan that has enough room to keep the pan with the batter. Pour 2 to 2.5 cups of water. Bring it to a boil.
  • Place the batter pan as soon you mix with eno. Cover with a lid (not tight fitting) but one that has a vent or will allow some steam to pass through.
  • Steam for 12 to 15 minutes on medium-high heat. The deeper the pan is in touch with the boiling water, the faster the steaming is. If it is away from the boiling water, the steaming will take a bit more time.
b) Steaming in a stove-top pressure cooker
  • Place the trivet in a pressure cooker. Add 2 to 2.5 cups water. Heat the water until it begins boiling. Secure the pan tightly between tongs and carefully place it on the trivet.
  • Remove the whistle (vent weight) from the lid and seal the lid tightly. Steam for 12 to 15 minutes on medium to medium-high heat.
c) Instant Pot Steaming
  • Pour 2 to 2.5 cups of water in the steel insert of your IP. Place a trivet (not short or long, but kind of in between).
  • Use the sauté function and let the water get heated up and start simmering.
  • Using tongs or with oven mitts carefully place the prepared pan with the khaman batter on the trivet. Do not cover with any lid.
  • Cover and seal IP with its lid and keep the vent position to steam release. Press the steam button and steam on high pressure for 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Keep a check of the time using a clock or watch as Instant pot does will not beep after the elapsed time and will continue to steam. Let all the pressure release and the valve fall down. Then open the lid carefully.

Nutrition Info (Approximate values)

Nutrition Facts
Khaman Dhokla Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 161 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 1mg0%
Sodium 579mg25%
Potassium 236mg7%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 21IU0%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 2mg10%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Vitamin E 2mg13%
Vitamin K 1µg1%
Calcium 29mg3%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 24µg6%
Iron 7mg39%
Magnesium 9mg2%
Phosphorus 18mg2%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This khaman recipe post from the archives (August 2012) has been republished and updated on 12 October 2021.

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245 Comments

  1. I don’t understand why people say that only video recipe can help you cook perfect.
    Yesterday, i came across your blog and i tried this khaman recipe and it really turned out awesome. Thank you for this perfect recipe.

    1. Thanks a lot Bhavana. It depends – some people prefer videos and some prefer step-wise photos. I personally feel that videos do not help much while cooking, but it just me that thinks this way. I am glad the recipe turned great and thanks for sharing this. Welcome and happy cooking.

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