Kadhi - North Indian
North Indian Kadhi
Kadhi is a North Indian dish that needs no introduction, at least in India. Everyone knows it well, most love it, including children, and it is cooked regularly in most houses regularly. Unfortunately, it is one of those dishes that is not widely available in Indian restaurants, more is the pity! In North India, it is a must at one of the meals in the days preceding a wedding. North Indian kadhi is thicker than Gujrati Kadhi, being thick, like a custard sauce. It also has dumplings or pakore. This recipe looks long, but it is a very easy dish to make. Serves 4-6
You can add vegetables to the kadhi sauce while it is cooking. Specially nice are chopped spinach (palk) or fenugreek (methi) leaves. Experiment with diced potatoes, carrots or any other vegetable of choice.
For the Sauce:
500 gm. or approximately 2 cups extra-mature or 'khatta' natural yoghurt (you can use butter milk/maththa instead)
1 litre or approximately 4 cups water
4 tbs. gram flour or besan
1 tbs. cooking oil
1/2 tsp. fenugreek or methi seeds (too many will make kadhi bitter)
A pinch of asafoetida or hing powder
12-15 curry leaves or Kadhi patta
1 1/2 tsp. salt, adjust to taste
1/2 tsp. chilli powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
For Dumplings or Pakore:
2 cup gram flour or besan, sifted to remove lumps
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Water to make batter
2 cups oil for deep frying
For Tempering or Tarka:
1 1/2 tbs. ghee
1 tsp. cumin seeds
A few curry leaves 10-12
A large pinch of asafoetida or hing powder
4-5 small, dry red chillies or 2 chillies roughly broken up
1/2 tsp. chilli powder
Also see Microwave Pakore in Notes.
Making Kadhi Sauce:
Place yogurt in a bowl, add sifted besan and beat together, to make a smooth batter. Add salt, chilli, turmeric and water. Mix well.
Heat oil in a pan and add fenugreek seeds and asafoetida powder. As soon as the seeds begin to turn brown, add the curry leaves. Stir for 5 seconds and add yoghurt-besan mix.
Bring to boil, stirring frequently, until it stops trying to bubble boil over. Turn heat down to medium.
Let it simmer gently, until the sauce reaches a custard like consistency. Placing a heavy ladle in the pan helps to stop it from boiling over during simmering. Stirring from time to time also helps to keep it from boiling over. Do not leave it and go away, or you may return to find your cooker covered in boiled over kadhi!
Allow kadhi to cook on low heat for at least 1/2 hour. My aunt, who lived in a village in India, cooked hers on hot ashes from the charcoal fire, for hours and hers was always delicious! This effect can be obtained by makeing it in a slow cooker, see notes.
While the Kadhi is cooking, make the dumplings as follows.
Making Pakoras or dumplings:
Place all ingredients for dumplings in a bowl and make a batter with enough water. Beat it well. The trapped air is what will make them light and fluffy. Solid dumplings do not taste nice. My mum makes pakoras without the addition of baking powder. She beats the batter by hand, until a drop of it dropped in a glass of water floats to the top instead of sinking down. I use electric beater!
Heat oil to a medium heat (just beginning to smoke), in a wok or kadhai. When right temperature is reached, a drop of batter dropped in the oil should float sizzling to the top.
Drop dollops of the batter into the hot oil, either with a dessert spoon or with your fingers. Do this gently, from the side of the wok, to stop the oil from splashing on to your hands/face. Make as many at a time as can float without overlapping each other. Fry until golden brown. Keep aside. (I make extra as my family always eats quite a few while I am frying them.
When the sauce is ready, add pakoras/dumplings to the kadhi, stir and turn heat off.
Tempering: Before serving, heat the kadhi and place in a serving bowl.
Heat ghee in a large ladle or small pan. Add cumin and asafoetida.
Once the seed splutter, add whole chillies, chilli powder and stir quickly with a teaspoon. Pour it over the kadhi. Cover with a lid immediately. This will allow the flavours to infuse.
Serve with Boiled Rice.
You can omit dumplings altogether if you wish, and add vegetables like boiled and dices potatoes, sliced onions, 7-8 spinach leaves or a handful of fenugreek/methi leaves and a few drumsticks cut into 4-5 inch pieces. These drumsticks are not chicken legs, they are an Indian vegetable called Senjan ki phali in Hindi.
You can use Boondis, instead of pakoras.
Slow Cooker Kadhi
Place yogurt and sifted besan in a bowl, along with salt, chilli, turmeric and water. Beat together to make a smooth batter. Transfer to a slow cooker and switch on ‘high’.
Heat oil in a ladle, add fenugreek seeds, asafoetida powder and curry leaves. As soon as fenugreek seeds begin to turn brown, pour over the yoghurt-besan mix. Let the kadhi cook for a few hours until it is custard like consistency. Add pakoras, turn the cooker down to slow until ready to serve. ‘Temper’ as in step 13, before serving.
Microwave pakoras/dumplings are low fat and can be cooked almost fat free, without frying. Place all dumpling ingredients in a bowl + 1 teaspoon oil and make quite stiff batter. Place about 8 dollops of this batter on a microwave steamer plate. Steam at around 800 power, for 2 minutes. Adjust time for different powers. My elder brother Ashok taught me this method. He says, “the reason why you have to add a little oil to the batter is that fat in the batter heats up 'preferentially’, faster than the rest of the material. This helps to cook the entire core uniformly. It is a known scientific fact that the electro-magnetic waves produced in a microwave oven are preferentially absorbed by good conductors of electricity and by certain long chain molecules of food, like in fat, egg yolk, sugar and even water which is a better conductor of electricity than flour. This is the reason why when you try to roast peanuts or almonds in a microwave, you may be able to handle them with naked fingers, but try putting them in your mouth, you will almost surely scald your tongue! Similar thing happens when you warm samosas or patties in a microwave when the filling gets heated much more than the skin.