High protein vegan Indian street food: Locho

Two plates of Locho dish

Besides inventing Shampooing, India has also invented the largest database of vegetarian recipes. Not only India is the world’s largest democracy, but India is also the world’s largest vegetarian nation and in my opinion, the most diverse and complex cuisine. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, let me know by leaving a comment saying, “Yes” or “No”. 

Why bookmark this recipe:

If you are a vegan or a vegetarian, either for health or ethical reasons, you must be tired of answering people’s questions about how you meet your daily protein needs. If you ever feel you are struggling to answer and your list is rather short, read on because I am about to add a  strong dish in your repertoire. 

Coming from the streets of Gujarat, India, this dish makes a perfect evening snack or breakfast. You can make it within 20 minutes(active cooking time) and you can enjoy a high protein, low carb, gluten-free vegan snack. You can also add a healthy dose of probiotics to your diet with this dish. 

About the dish:

Essentially, this dish is made with lentils that are soaked overnight and blended to form a batter. The batter, flavored with ginger and spices, is then steamed to form a cake. Cut the cake into random pieces, that is where the dish gets its name.

Locho in Gujarati means a mess up / mistake. Someone somewhere was trying to make Dhokla/ Khaman and messed up the recipe and instead of discarding their mistake, they plated it differently, invented a different dish, and just called it “Locho”. I couldn’t help but cut it into cubes, partly because of my (probable) OCD. Traditionally it is topped with Sev for crisp, tamarind chutney, herbaceous green chutney, chopped cilantro for color and freshness, and quick pickled onions. Wallah! You are set for the evening. 

About the guest

Until a couple of weeks back I had no idea about this dish. I knew about its more popular cousin, Dhokla, or Khaman which is made with either Besan(chickpea flour) or Suji (Semolina). As a part of my project Across Kitchen Lines, where I am reaching out to Chefs and Homecooks all over the world 🌎 and cook their traditional dishes with them every week, I reached out to Dhaval Shah this week.

From Dhaval: “Aerospace Engineer by education, Automotive Tech Specialist by profession and Chef by passion. I love spending my free time learning about food, especially focussing on reinventing and showcasing the vast variety of Indian cuisine in a refined manner!

I am born and raised in Mumbai and currently living with my wife in Michigan, USA. I started cooking about 7-8 years ago when I got sick of eating out as a grad student and had gained a lot of weight. I decided to take matters in my own hands and I started liking it. I am an avid football fan, and support Arsenal through thick and thin 😉!”

Dhaval Shah's version of the dish "Locho"
Dhaval’s version of Locho

I have known Dhaval for a little short of a decade and watched his cooking journey from germination to a sophisticated homecook he has grown into. I would highly encourage you to follow his page (@chefhusband1607). It is really fun seeing him create very well thought out and plated dishes week after week.  For this post, Dhaval used a traditional family recipe for the Locho cake and garnished scoops with spicy corn, yogurt, and cilantro chutney. Topped with pickled onions, sev, and chili garlic chutney on the side.

Recipe

Coming from the streets of Gujarat, India, Locho makes a perfect evening snack or breakfast. You can make it within 20 minutes(active cooking time) and you can enjoy a high protein, low carb, gluten-free vegan snack. You can also add a healthy dose of probiotics to your diet with this dish. 

Locho - a high protein vegan recipe

Surati Locho

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes

Coming from the streets of Gujarat in India, Locho makes a perfect evening snack or breakfast. You can make it within 20 minutes(active cooking time) and you can enjoy a high protein, low carb, gluten-free vegan snack. You can also add a healthy dose of probiotics to your diet with this dish.

Ingredients

Locho

  • 1 cup chana dal (split chickpeas)
  • 1/4 cup urad dal
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt or 1/2 cup pohe (rice flakes)
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp green chili, minced (optional but recommended)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder

Instant Pickled Onions

  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp lime/lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of red chili powder

Garnish

  • 1/2 cup sev or any crunchy snack
  • 1/2 cup green chutney
  • 1/2 cup tamarind chutney
  • 1 tsp black salt or chaat masala
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil (optional)

Instructions

    1. In a bowl, add chana dal and urad dal (and pohe if you making the vegan version and skipping yogurt) and cover with water. Soak for at least 4-5 hours, preferably overnight.
    2. Drain the dal but save 1/2 a cup of the soaking water. In a blender, blend the dal with the yogurt and 1/2 cup of soaking water until semi-smooth mixture. You are looking for a gritty texture.
    3. Pour the dal mixture back into a large bowl and add salt, turmeric, ginger, green chili, and vegetable oil. The mixture should be like a thick cake batter consistency.
    4. When you're ready to steam the Locho, add baking soda to the mixture and stir gently.
    5. Immediately pour the batter into an oil-greased 8-inch pan. No hard rules on the pan size here.
    6. Sprinkle the top with black pepper and red chili powder. Tap 2-3 times to level the batter out and then steam for 15 to 20 minutes.
    7. Test the Locho for readiness by piercing it with a knife. It is ready if the knife comes out clean. If not, put it back in the steamer for another couple of minutes.

    Instant Pickled Onion

    In a small bowl mix together onion, lime juice, salt, and chili powder and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

    Plating

    Spread a few Locho pieces on a plate. Top with sev, a drizzle of peanut oil, sweet and tangy tamarind chutney, green chutney, a pinch chaat masala, and a few quick pickled onions. Your plate of high protein, low carb, gluten-free vegan snack.

Notes

  1. It is important to add baking soda right before steaming because adding the baking soda will effervesce and make the Locho fluffy when steamed. Alternatively, you can let the batter ferment overnight in a warm place, for eg, the oven with the oven light on. Fermentation will also add a healthy dose of probiotics to this dish and a good flavor as well. That said, I used baking soda and the results were fantastic, so do not worry.
  2. Whatever pan size you use, you are looking to fill it with batter to about 1-inch height. Depending on how much quantity you are making, and what utensils you have available, you can use a smaller pan and steam in multiple batches. Also, make sure there is some room for the batter to expand, otherwise, the batter will spill out.
  3. I used Instapot for steaming. Make sure it is in a venting position as you do not want pressure inside so Locho can rise properly.
  4. Tamarind and green chutneys are easily available at any Indian grocery store or online. I make my own because they are cheaper that way 😉. Message me and I will hook you up with my mom’s recipe.
  5. Locho can be enjoyed fresh and hot right after you are done steaming. It also stores well and can be reheated the next day.
  6. Before serving, I grilled the Locho cubes in a lightly oiled pan just to add some color and crisp.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 197Total Fat: 8gCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 11g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram(tag @t_as_in_tarun and #acrosskitchenlines)

Finally:

Making Locho was extremely easy and my recipe was inspired by the recipe form milkandcardamom blog. 

In this past one week, since I learned about this dish, I have already made it twice and enjoyed it for breakfast twice and once as an evening snack. Thanks to Dhaval for introducing me to this tasty dish as a part of Across Kitchen Lines. Checkout Dhaval’s page for some beautiful and inspiring plates of food.

I hope you give this delicious high protein vegetarian recipe a try. If you do, share pictures with me on Instagram @t_as_in_tarun or use #acrosskitchenlines.  If you have a recipe you want to cook with me, count me in! Please send me a message or leave a comment.

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