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Recipe | Steamed Savory Cornflour Buns or Makki ke Dhokle – Picking a few beads of memories from childhood days..

22 November 2014 2 Comments

healthy cornmeal dumplings in lentil gravy or makki ke dhokle

Life is a rough biography. Memories smooth out the edges.’ ~Dante G.

Time can forget some memories, but there are some memories which can make us forget time and those memories make life sweeter.

I was tagged in a thread by Susan to share some of my childhood memories in a group on FB.

Growing up in 1960s and 1970s meant that we remained uninfluenced by technology and many other complex electronic gadgets. In simple words, our life was practically devoid of many material things such as Barbie dolls, Lego sets, Television, computers and cell phones. Which indirectly helped us enjoy nature and human relationships to its fullest form.

Most of my younger days were spent playing games in open, going for frequent summer vacations at grandparents home and enjoying the food and fun revolving around numerous Indian festivals that we celebrated.

Oh…these colourful beads of my sweet memories, all jumbled loose in a box….how I love to pick one at a time….

I almost started reliving the entire childhood days which I once had lived while thinking and writing about my childhood memories for this post. These memories make me feel pleasant every time that it crosses my mind.

Playing outdoor games after school hours till mom screams her heart out for nth time to call us back home. Listening to stories from granny, tune in for Binaca Geet mala (musical programme on Radio) and doing paper crafts making various shapes with grandparents.

I feel sad that some of the indigenous games we used to play such as Sitolia (played with seven stones a ball), Goli (marbles), Kanche (with stones and Tamarind seeds), Lattu (spinning tops) are almost becoming non-existent.

Looks like all these beautiful activities and hobbies are now locked in a box and the key to open it is lost. Thanks to television, computers and cell phones, the children of this generation least play outdoors.

Some days back I mentioned about happy festive days spent at my granny’s home in a post here . A a good friend Sra commented and wanted to see a picture of that Ghaghra Choli my granny used to stitch for me for every festival and functions at home.

I found this old photograph from mom’s house, this was the very first Ghaghra-choli  my granny stitched for me in 1971. I think this one is a pretty peach coloured satin Ghaghra-choli studded with golden and silver stars on it.

healthy cornmeal dumplings in lentil gravy or makki ke dhokle

me dressed in a traditional attire, 1971.

Well, how can I miss out on food I relished during my childhood days. One of the most remembered recipes mom used to cook often during winters is this mini Dhoklas or cornmeal buns dunked in lentil gravy.

Steamed Savory Cornflour Buns aka Makki ke Dhokle

Makki ke Dhokle or steamed cornmeal bun is one another variation of whole meal dumplings cooked and savored in the mewar region of Rajasthan.

The dish is a staple among villagers and many Jain households who use hand-pound fresh whole-wheat, millet or cornmeal to make these steamed buns.

Dhokla Vs Dhokli;  Dhokli is the flattened disc made with wholemeal which is boiled to cook along with the lentil gravy or Daal. While Dhokla is the much fatter cousin of Dhokli and is often steamed and eaten with or without lentil curry or daal. This is the rough explanation mom used to give me whenever I asked her what is the difference between the two.

Here are two Dhokli recipes on the blog you can try;

Millet Dhokli

Wholewheat Dhokli

Mom uses homemade coarse cornflour or Makki ka atta (coarse cornflour) to make these Dhoklas during winter season.
She would add fenugreek and coriander leaves or fresh peas and Lilva (tender chickpeas) to flavors these buns.
Served with hand pressed sesame oil these Dhokla is a delightful winter delicacy of Rajasthan. Aniseed, crushed coriander and cumin seeds along with ginger and garlic added to these steamed buns make it a wonderful treat.

She would often make large batches of big Dhoklas, steam and refrigerate overnight. The Dhoklas would then be sliced and shallow fried in little oil for a lovely breakfast the next day.
Traditionally these Makki ke Dhokle are served hot with nothing else than a generous drizzle of sesame oil. But my children and hubby are not used to eating cornflour based dishes and I changed my mom’s recipe to suit their palate. I make mini Dhoklas (steamed buns), steam them and dunk the dumplings into daal or lentil curry.

healthy cornmeal dumplings in lentil gravy or makki ke dhokle


(serve 3)

  • 2 cups coarse corn flour
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Papad khar or ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • Herbs and spices
  • 1 tsp dry fenugreek leaves
  • 5-6 garlic cloves
  • 3 green chilies
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. dry coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. aniseed
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
  • Warm water
  • Salt to taste

healthy cornmeal dumplings in lentil gravy or makki ke dhokle

Method; Peel and finely chop the onion. Chop geen chillies and grate a small pice of ginger. Roughly crush the garlic cloves and dry coriander seeds.

If you are using Papad khar, soak it in a little warm water. If you don’t get Papad khar use ½ tsp of baking powder in the recipe. Papad khar is ‘Samudri zhaag’ or froth collected from seashore, this is what mom told me about it when I asked her about the same.

As most of the poppadoms made in North and west India has papad khar in it, you can even use even 2-3 small crushed papad or poppadoms in the recipe.

healthy vegetarian recipes

Papad khar

I got a box of Papad khar from mom’s home in my recent visit to Udaipur. Here is how it looks. She says that it helps in making soft papad.

healthy cornmeal dumplings in lentil gravy or makki ke dhokle

In a large bowl add coarse corn flour, finely chopped onion and green chillies, turmeric powder, dried fenugreek leaves, aniseeds, cumin seeds, crushed coriander seeds, salt and mix well.

Pour Papad khar in the bowl, oil and little warm water and combine all ingredients to make it into a soft dough.

Take marble size dough, roll it into a circle, flatten it and pierce the centre of the disc to make a large hole in it.

Heat two cups of water in a pressure cooker and place an inverted strainer in it.

Arrange all the mini Dhoklas over the strainer, make sure the Dhoklas do not touch water underneath.

Remove the vent from the cooker and let it cook for 10 minutes on high heat, reduce the heat and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. You could use any steamer or can even microwave the Dhoklas for 5-6 minutes.

Let the pressure cooker cool a little and then take out all the Dhoklas from it.

Serve these steamed savory cornflour buns or Makki ke Dhokle hot with a generous drizzle of sesame oil or lentil curry.

Quick lentil curry or Indian Daal

healthy cornmeal dumplings in lentil gravy or makki ke dhokle


  • 1/4 cup split back gram
  • 1/4 gram Bengal gram
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 1/2 tsp. grated Ginger
  • 2 Green chilies
  • 1 tsp. Lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as required
  • Coriander leaves


  • 1/2 tsp. Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. Red chilly powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garam masala
  • A pinch of Asafetida powder

healthy cornmeal dumplings in lentil gravy or makki ke dhokle

Method; Boil both the split black gram (urad daal) and bengal gram (channa daal) together with turmeric powder, grated ginger, slit green chillies and about 3 cups of water till completely cooked. Cook it for 4-5 whistles if using a pressure cooker.

Mash the lentils to make it look like a creamy gravy.

Heat oil in a small pan and crackle cumin seeds in it. Take the pan off the flame and add red chilly powder and asafoeitda powder (hing) in it.

Pour the tempering over the lentil gravy.

healthy cornmeal dumplings in lentil gravy or makki ke dhokle

Check Glossary for to search for the English & Hindi names of various foods and ingredients used in cooking,


  1. Replace a little of corn flour with wheat flour if you are using cornflour for the first time to make these Dhokla. As cornflour has no gluten and you might feel hard to knead it and roll into perfect ball.
  2. Use normal corn flour to make this recipe if you don’t get coarse corn flour.


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  • Helene D'Souza said:

    We taught my cousins in France to play Sitolia. I didn’t know it was called as such. Actually my husband got the idea at my uncle’s wedding and since we are more then 24 cousins, we were able to play this game to the fullest.
    I agree, in older times kids got to play outside. I grew up in the 90s but we too played mostly outside. In fact I was always at my uncle’s farm playing with my cousin and the neighbor kids, so I absolutely understand your childhood memories and how much they mean to you.
    We will never be able to bring back these memories and even children today can’t experience it.
    Your curry and dhokla look mouthwatering good Sanjeeta. =)

  • easyfoodsmith said:

    Aww…you are looking sooo cute in that ghagra choli 😀
    Revisiting childhood and dishing out this cornflour recipe must be so nostalgic.

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