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Author Notes: . Kadhi Pakora is an Indian Chickpea Soup, with well seasoned chickpea and onion fritters used as dumplings. This is my mother-in-law's recipe, and it is classic North Indian winter comfort food, sort of like a vegetarian variation of chicken stew and dumplings.
As with all heirlooms Indian dishes the heart and soul rests in the spicing, so I would never meddle with that however, when making the fritters I add in sweet potatoes and kale to give it the necessary seasonal accent and completeness as a one pot meal. There is also something simple and soulful about kadhi, transporting me to a place where life is comforting and peaceful and time is not as rushed as our routines sometime demand.
When I had first seen Kadhi being made, I did not understand the logic of adding so much water and then slowly cooking it to thicken the sauce, but, today I realize that that slow and gentle simmer gives the dish its silky smooth consistency and taste. Gently simmering the chickpea flour based sauce thickens it and removes any aftertaste that might exist. Also, the North India Kadhi is distinctly tart as it is usually made with day old natural yogurt. When I have time I leave the yogurt out for at least 36 hours, if not, I work with a little sour cream to give the recipe its obligatory tart taste. There are many variations of this dish in different parts of India, and it is amazing how much difference can result in just varying the seasoning. My version also notches up the turmeric giving the dish a lovely bright yellow color. I finish my dish with cilantro something that I later learned was something that my mother-in-law did differently because of my husband’s love for cilantro. She pointed this out to me as a matter of fact, once she generally approved of my kadhi making skills. We generally love cilantro in our household so the cilantro stays and I could not help noting that it is these simple little nuances is what makes a recipe personal and distinct.
—Rinku Bhattacharya /Spice Chronicles
Serves 4 to 6
For the Pakoras
- 1 cup chickpea flour or besan
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 cup chopped kale leaves
- 1 medium sized red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups oil such as grapeseed oil for frying the fritters
For the Kadhi or chickpea stew
- 2 cups natural yogurt (left out for at least 36 hours)
- 4 cups water
- 1/3 cup chickpea flour
- 1.5 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2.5 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
- 1.5 teaspoons crushed coriander seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon asafetida
- 15-20 curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon ghee or clarified butter
- 1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the chickpea flour for the fritters, cumin seeds, cayenne pepper and salt and mix well to remove any lumps.
- Mix in the sweet potatoes, kale and red onion with about 3/4 cup of water to form a thick batter.
- 3. Heat the oil and drop spoonfuls of the batter and fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until the fritters are crisp. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
- 4. While the fritters are cooking, place the yogurt, water, chickpea flour, turmeric salt and ginger in a large mixing bowl and mix well, preferably using a whisk. Set aside for 20 minutes.
- 5. Heat the oil for the Kadhi in a large wok, add in 1 and 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, coriander seeds, asafetida and fenugreek seeds and cook until the seeds darken and get fragrant, this takes about 30 seconds.
- Add in the curry leaves and then add in the yogurt mixture.
- At this point the mixture will be very thin, let it simmer low and slow for 20 minutes. Add in the pakoras and simmer for 20 minutes. The sauce should still be think, smooth and silky. It will thicken further when the heat is turned off so make sure that it is still relatively thin before turning off the heat.
- 8. In a small pan heat the ghee and add in the remaining cumin seeds and the cayenne pepper and cook for about 20 seconds and pour the hot ghee over the kadhi.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with fresh steamed rice.