Here at MAD we have a vast array of herbs and spices, but they can be a little bewildering if you’re not quite sure how to use them. We are, however, lucky enough to have in our midst, the mighty force that is Reeti! She regularly talks of the amazing food she and her husband prepare (and I’ve been lucky enough to have the odd taste of this and that), and I finally managed to pursuade her to share with us one of her standards; her mother Kiran’s Kadhi Pakora. Comfort food at its finest. So here it is in all it’s glory;
Kadhi is a dish that goes back centuries, with variations across northern India, western India and parts of Pakistan. Kadhi is probably the earliest curry; in fact, the word “curry” is derived from it. The north Indian version below is a much-loved comfort food, piping hot kadhi ladled over a bowl of steaming plain basmati rice on a cold day. Amazingly versatile, it can also be had with khichdi (a rice and lentil porridge from which the word “kedgeree” is derived), samosa or flatbreads.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45-60 mins.
Makes 4 servings.
For the Kadhi;
1 cup yoghurt (sour, or add 1tbsp lemon juice)
40g besan flour, sifted
¾ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 green chilli, minced (de-seed if you want to dial down the heat a little)
1½ tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
8-10 curry leaves
¾ tsp fenugreek seeds
salt to taste
fresh coriander to garnish
For the pakora;
Sunflower oil (to deep fry)
200g besan flour, sifted
½ tsp turmeric (ground)
½ tsp ajwain seeds (if not available, thyme is a good substitute)
¼ tsp baking powder
For the Tempering;
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 dried chilli (or 1 tsp chilli flakes)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp coriander seeds, roughly crushed
For the Khadi*
- In a large bowl, whisk together yoghurt, lemon juice (if using), besan, turmeric and red chilli powder until smooth. Add 500 ml water and mix again.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a large pot on medium heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds. They will start to pop, then add the ginger, green chilli and curry leaves (careful, they may pop wildly!) and sauté for a few seconds. Turn the heat down to a medium/low.
- Add the fenugreek seeds and stir briskly, making sure they don’t burn, then add the yoghurt mixture, being careful to keep the heat down to avoid splitting the yoghurt.
- Stir continuously for 10-15 minutes until the mixture approaches a boil and thickens. While this is thickening, warm 200ml of water (you may not need all of this).
- Once thickened, add a little of the warmed water to give the yoghurt mixture a thinner consistency, then simmer on a low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will cook out the besan and should reduce the mixture by about a third. While this is simmering, you can make up the pakora…
*Khadi is actually a Hindi word meaning “something that has been simmered/slow-cooked”
For the Pakora
- Heat oil in a wok or pan. Mix together all the dry ingredients except the baking powder, then stir in the water a little at a time to form a batter about the same consistency of a thick pancake batter.
- Whisk vigorously for 5 minutes to aerate*, then add in the baking powder.
- Test your batter is aerated enough by dropping a small amount into a bowl of water to ensure it floats, then using a couple of spoons or your fingers, carefully put small blobs of the dough into moderately hot oil and fry until the outside is golden and crisp, and the inside is cooked and airy. Set aside.
*You can also add chopped onions to this batter if you like your pakoras to be crunchy and not airy.
For the Tempering
In a small fry pan, heat the sunflower oil and add the chilli flakes (or if using dried chilli, break in two and add), bay leaf and coriander seeds, stir through and then pour over the simmering kadhi.
To finish, add the pakoras to the kadhi and simmer for a further 2 minutes and serve, garnishing with coriander. You can eat this like a soup, or serve over basmati rice.