A soulful Kadhi with vegetables.
This post has been sitting as a draft for over a month now and boy am I ashamed! But on the bright side, in this time I have had kadhi with rice at least four times and twice at other people’s houses. Got to love friends and family that are ready to feed you!
When flour, butter and sugar come together they make for some of the most beautiful desserts, like halwa, known by the same name in cultures stretching from the Mediterranean sea to the Arabian sea. If I had to draw a parallel to halwa in savoury foods, my first choice would be kadhi. Though not the same ingredients, this delicacy combines chickpea flour and curd into a stew that is slow cooked to perfection. Punjabi kadhi that I have grown up eating is traditionally served with pakoras – chickpea fritters of onion, potato, cauliflower or just seasoned chickpea batter. Another form of kadhi known as Sindhi kadhi, from Sindh, Pakistan is instead served with vegetables in the gravy. So, while I have never had true Sindhi kadhi, I have at a few occasions had kadhi with vegetables made by women from two generations in my husband’s family. The end result is that I can now make kadhi both ways and it still has a personality all its own!
Presenting to you my recipe for making sabz kadhi. Food cooked with love always turns out delicious. Take this as a warning, kadhi does take time. But the preparation and initial supervision isn’t long enough to disrupt your entire day. One more word of caution, don’t let the list of ingredients stun you, you can skip or substitute a few of them.
The usual process for cooking indian curried dishes is to make a base, i.e. the tempering and then add the liquid ingredients and let the curry cook. For this kadhi though, I break up the tempering into two and the ingredients are listed in the same order.
Total Preparation time: 1 1/2 hour
Inactive prep: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people
- 1 tbsp mustard/olive oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 onion finely chopped
- 1 green chilli chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 inch piece of ginger, julienne
For the kadhi:
- 1 cup Besan/chickpea flour
- 2 cups curd/plain sour yogurt
- 6-8 cups of water
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
For the final tempering:
- 1 tbsp mustard/olive oil
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 2-3 whole red chillies
- 8-10 curry leaves
- 1/2 onion sliced
- A pinch of red chilli powder
- 1/2 a cauliflower, broken into small florets
- 2 cups of spinach finely chopped
- 1 cup of mixed frozen vegetables
- 1/4 cup of green peas
First things first, take a large bottomed pan, preferably a deep stock pot or you could also use a pressure cooker except we won’t give the kadhi any pressure. Next get things together for the tempering. I like to begin by chopping things like onions, garlic, ginger and chillies. Also its best to finish with the onion in one go. So finely chop half an onion and thinly slice the rest and reserve for later.
Second, in a mixing bowl measure and mix all the ingredients for making the kadhi batter. Beat well to make sure there are no lumps of the chickpea flour. Leave this aside while we go ahead with the first stage of making the base.
Get the oil ready in the pot. Add to it all the dry ingredients from the first set for the tempering. When the seeds are sputtering its time to add the wet ingredients, in this case the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. I add all together since I really don’t want the garlic to burn. One tip that will come in handy while using fenugreek seeds, add them just before you add in the onions. If you let these cook for as long as it takes cumin and mustard seeds to sputter, they will become bitter. These seeds have a tangy almost sour, tough sort of flavour which takes some getting used to. Skip, if you haven’t tried them before. Also, I have listed mustard oil as an option. The same principle applies; it is an acquired taste, it has a strong flavour, which is tangy and does very well with fish but can be overpowering. Go with the cooking oil of your choice if you aren’t ready for surprises.
Next, pour in the batter that you had mixed. I use the 1:2:8 ratio for chickpea flour:curd:water, respectively. So when you begin its a watery mix. Cook it on medium high heat until it comes to a boil, stirring it regularly. After it has been on the boil for at least a few minutes, turn the heat to medium, cover the pot and let it simmer for the next hour or so. Make sure you check in once every 10-15 minutes to give it a stir so that it doesn’t crust at the bottom of the pan. Some flour will settle and create a layer at the bottom, don’t worry about that.
After the kadhi has been simmering for an hour or so its time to top it off with the final tempering. In a small pan, heat oil and add the dry ingredients. The same principle applies, once the seeds are sputtering and the curry leaves and red chillies are turning colour, its time to pour this mix over the kadhi. But since we are using vegetables, we will add them now. Let them cook for a few minutes, long enough to let the frozen vegetables soften and to moisten the cauliflower. But don’t let the spinach become too watery and wilting. To add some colour, put in a pinch of red chilli powder. Add this mix of vegetables to the kadhi and let it cook in the simmering curry for a few minutes before you turn off the stove. Make sure you warm it up before you serve, ideally with long grain basmati rice.
This is the kind of comfort food that seems daunting to cook the first time, but once you get the hang of it its really simple. Its a big pot of boiling flour and yogurt. How much simpler can it get! 🙂 Hope you enjoy it and savour its mildly sour, tangy flavour.
Some other recipes to explore on the blog: