By David Tanis

New York Times News Service

If you are a lover of street food, India is the place to be. Outrageously delicious snacks, of which there are countless thousands, beckon from every corner.

One of them is dhokla, an irresistible Gujarati snack that is essentially a fluffy, steamed savory bread or cake. Aromatic squares of it are piled high, sprinkled with fluffy green coriander leaves and grated coconut. Immediately after my first bite of dhokla, I wanted more, and more still.

Fortunately, it is no more difficult to steam dhokla than to bake a cake.

First, make the batter (spiced with ginger, turmeric and green chili) and pour it into a cake pan. Pop the pan into a steamer, makeshift or not, and steam it for 20 minutes. It will look like a spongecake. Next, make the sizzling topping: Heat a little oil in a pan and toss in green chilies, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves, along with a pinch of asafetida, the flavorful (some say smelly) powdered resin sold in Indian spice shops. They will quickly infuse the oil with flavor. Spoon this heady mixture over the dhokla.

You could employ the old-fashioned method, in which you soak dried grains or legumes overnight, grind them to make a batter, then let the batter sit in a warm place until enough airborne yeasts have caused it to ferment. This usually takes eight hours or so.

Alternatively, more modern cooks use ready-ground flour and a rising agent, such as baking powder. This takes about an hour from start to finish, but it doesn’t really feel like cheating, even if it is referred to as the “instant” method.

In India the preferred rising agent is Eno Brand Fruit Salt, sold in pharmacies ostensibly as an antacid, because of its high percentage of sodium bicarbonate. Every cook seems to know, however, that it really makes a dhokla rise brilliantly.

I had good results using a combination of baking powder and baking soda — though I contemplated using a couple of fizzy tablets from my local drugstore.

Dhokla’s best feature is its marvelous light and spongy texture.

It can be made with different types of dal, or with a mixture of dal and rice or dal and semolina. I love this version, which uses only semolina (sooji).

If you use straight chickpea flour (besan), you’ll have a garbanzo-flavored, gluten-free dhokla.

A word of warning: Be sure to have guests over for drinks when you make it. It’s the only way to keep from eating an entire platterful yourself.