A soft gram flour and yoghurt-based dish topped with a medley of sweet-sour-spicy chutneys and crunchy sev, Locho from Surat, Gujarat is a street food that also doubles as a healthy breakfast. From the techniques behind this popular dish to fusion versions that are now trending, here is everything you need to know about Surti Locho.
If you have ever been to Surat and not even tasted Locho, then you have truly missed out on the true flavours of this Gujarati city. A beloved street food delicacy that doubles as one of those healthy breakfasts that no Surati person can do without, Locho is basically a savoury snack made with gram flour or besan and spices. In fact, the word Locha means “mistake” in Gujarat, indicating that the dish Locho in Surat has a very interesting origin story along with a mind-blowing flavour.
So, what is the secret mistake in Locho that makes this Surat dish so popular? Well, the signature mistake in Locho stems from the fact that the basic recipe for the dish actually resembles that of Khaman Dhokla. But the accidental inventor of Locho added too much water to the Khaman Dhokla batter and steamed it to make a softer dish that we now know as Locho! And so was born an incredible dish that is now popular not only in Surat but all over Gujarat as well as other parts of the world.
Video Credit: YouTube/Chef Ranveer Brar
1. Introduction to Locho
As mentioned before, the similarities between Locho in Surat and Khaman Dhokla across Gujarat are quite striking. Both dishes are prepared with a gram flour or besan batter which has yoghurt and spices like asafoetida, salt and a bit of sugar in them. The batter for Locho is runnier than that of Khaman Dhokla, which means that both yoghurt and water are added in greater proportions. The batter is then placed in large trays and steamed until the batter firms up a bit but still remains soft and easy to eat.
At first glance, this soft and loose batter may make you think that Locho in Surat is a hot, gooey mess—but the fact is that this base for the dish is then dressed up with incredible toppings that make the dish a Surat-special street-food snack to die for. A variety of spicy and sour chutneys are added to the Locho base along with grated cheese, chopped onions, chaat masala, roasted cumin powder, red chilli powder, sev and even fried onions. Chopped coriander leaves on top of the dish are a must.
2. Exploring the Types of Locho
As is the case with any classic Indian street food, Locho in Surat has now adapted the flavours of many dishes and ingredients from around the world. Here are some new-age varieties of Locho that you can eat in Surat.
1. Cheese Locho: As the name suggests, Cheese Locho incorporates grated cheese as a topping and sometimes even in the batter. The warm Locho, when topped with cheese attains a new level of flavours that can redefine how we look at a gooey comfort dish.
2. Lasaniya Locho: Lasaniya or garlic Locho is known for its intense garlic flavor. To make this version, garlic powder or fried garlic pieces are added as a tadka on top of the Locho in Surat. The pungent flavour of garlic adds to the flavours of Locho like nothing else can.
3. Butter Locho: What can make Locho even creamier and richer? Butter of course! To make Butter Locho, generous amounts of butter are added to the Locho batter, providing a rich and indulgent taste..
4. Tawa Locho: Tawa Locho is a pan-fried version of Locho which imbibes a smokier flavour. After steaming, the Locho is shallow-fried on an iron tawa placed on an open flame until a crispy layer develops on the outside.
5. Schezwan Locho: Like all Indo-Chinese delights, Locho’s Schezwan upgrade means an addition of spicy, tangy and red-hot chutney packed with chillies. Spicy and delicious, Schezwan Locho is a treat for the taste buds.
3. Techniques Behind Authentic Locho
Locho in Surat is a typical street food dish, but if you do want to try it at home, there are a few pressure points that you should be considering. Here are a few key techniques behind Surat’s Locho that you should know about.
Preparing The Batter: Since the Locho batter is runnier than that of Khaman Dhokla, you have to combine gram flour, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, ginger-green chilli paste, salt, oil and baking soda to the batter and then add more yoghurt and water than usual to get a thinner batter.
Steaming The Batter: Because the Locho batter is runnier, it will not steam up to form a cake-like dish. Instead, the Locho batter will rise up but still remain soft and gooey. So, make sure the texture of this dish is right after steaming and the Locho is soft but not raw or undercooked.
Prepare The Tempering: Just like with Khaman Dhokla, a tempering of spices is often added to the Locho before garnishing and serving. To make this tempering, heat oil and add cumin seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves, chillies and mustard seeds. Once these stop spluttering, pour over the Locho.
Garnish And Serve: Depending on your taste buds, you can garnish Surti Locho with everything from coconut, sev, chutneys and fresh coriander leaves to cheese and Schezwan sauce. The garnish is one area where you can play with your imagination and create new versions of Locho with ease.
4. Locho's Historical Connection to Surat
The streets of Surat are loaded with delicious and vegetarian snacks like Surti Sev Khamani and Locho. Each of these Surat-specific dishes like Locho have an interesting story behind them. The birth of Surti Locho can be credited to the street food vendors of Surat who were bored of serving up the same old Khaman Dhokla to customers. In search of a new flavour and dish, the vendors came up with a runnier version of the Dhokla batter by chance or accident.
Though invented accidentally, Locho quickly became a very popular dish—primarily thanks to the range of toppings that can be added to the dish. Today, Locho in Surat isn’t just a beloved and iconic street food snack but also a part of the rich cultural tapestry of the city. In fact, so popular is Surti Locho now that it is also available in other Gujarat cities like Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and even cities like Mumbai, Maharashtra.
5. The Aromas and Tastes of Locho
The taste, flavour and aroma of Locho in Surat is unique among the street foods of not only India but all of Gujarat too. The batter made of gram flour, yoghurt and spices has a cooling effect on the body and smells earthy. The tadka adds a level of smokiness that elevates Surti Locho to the level of a delicious snack. The addition of customized garnishes, from the classic chutneys and sev to global additions like cheese and Schezwan sauce add the oomph factor to this street food from Surat, to make Locho a must-have for Surat foodies and visitors alike.
6. Surat's Top Locho Spots
Visiting Surat soon and want to taste some authentic Locho? Here are some of the top spots for Locho in Surat you must check out.
Jani Locho & Khaman House, City Light: Apart from classic Locho plates, this place also offers a taste of Schezwan Locho, Italian Locho, Tandoori Locho and Peri Peri Locho. Pocket-friendly and hygienic, this place also offers delicious Khaman Dhokla varieties.
Gopal Locho & Khaman House, Aai Mata Road: This place opens up as early as 8AM to provide plate after plate of delicious Locho for breakfast. Apart from the classic variety, you can also get a few fusion Locho versions here.
Sreeji Locho House, City Light: Visited and well loved my celebrity chefs like Ranveer Brar, this place is always packed with an eager crowd awaiting plates of Locho with green chutney, chopped onions and lots of sev on top.
Jay Jalaram Khaman, Kailash Nagar: While the Locho here is classic and delicious, it’s not the only delicacy you need to try. The Khaman Dhokla varieties here are just as droolworthy as the Locho.
JP Khaman, Sagrampura: From the classic sev Locho to spicy Schezwan Locho, you can get every version of the popular street food at this Surat eatery. Don’t forget to wash it all down with some fresh Chhaas.
7. Surti Locho's Global Appeal
Surti Locho brings together a number of flavours and textures that everybody who loves delicious food is bound to fall for deep and hard. From the soft texture of the Locho base to the crunch of the sev, the sweet-and-sour mix of chutneys to the hit of spice from chillies, Locho in Surat offers up the world’s best flavours in a single plate. So, despite the fact that Locho was invented in Surat and is popular as a street food in this Gujarati city, its appeal as a dish is truly global. With Gujaratis settling in other parts of India and the world, Surti Locho has now spread across the global Gujarati diaspora. From cities like Mumbai to New York and Fremont, the flavours of Locho are winning hearts all over the world now.