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Punjabi Kadhi

(recipe, Sanjeev Kapoor)


Forty years ago, many homes in India did not have refrigerators. So people used innovative recipes for ingredients that spoiled easily. One of those ingredients was yogurt. Without refrigeration, yogurt would often turn sour, and sour yogurt was the perfect excuse to make a comforting kadhi. If you have the patience, you can wait for your yogurt to sour, but you don't have to. Be sure to mix the yogurt well with the besan before adding it to the pot or the yogurt will curdle. If you are in a hurry, you can omit the dumplings (pakoras) and just prepare this as a plain curry. Serve this with steamed rice.


    For the pakoras
    1. ¾ cup (75 grams) besan (chickpea/gram flour)
    2. 1 red onion, chopped
    3. ½ cup (20 grams) chopped methi (fresh fenugreek leaves)
    4. 1 (1-inch; 2½-cm) piece of fresh ginger, grated
    5. 1 tsp. ajwain
    6. 1 tsp. red chile powder
    7. ¼ tsp. baking powder
    8. ½ tsp. table salt
    9. 3 cups (600 ml) vegetable oil
    For the kadhi
    1. 1 cup (250 grams) plain whole-milk yogurt
    2. ¼ cup (25 grams) besan (chickpea/gram flour)
    3. 1 tsp. ground turmeric
    4. 1½ tsp. table salt
    5. 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
    6. ½ tsp. fenugreek seeds
    7. ½ tsp. cumin seeds
    8. 6 whole black peppercorns
    9. 2 dried red chiles, stemmed and broken into 2 or 3 pieces each
    10. 1 red onion, chopped
    11. 1 (½-inch; 1 cm) piece of fresh ginger, chopped
    12. 1 tsp. red chile powder
    13. 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro


    1. Make the pakoras: Place all the pakora ingredients except the oil in a medium bowl and stir. Add ¼ cup (50 ml) water and stir to make a soft dough.
    2. Place a medium nonstick wok over high heat and add the oil. When small bubbles appear at the bottom of the pan, drop in small portions (about 2 tablespoons) of the besan mixture and deep-fry for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Drain the pakoras on paper towels. Set aside.
    3. Make the kadhi: Put the yogurt in a large bowl, add the besan, and whisk until smooth with no lumps. Add the turmeric, salt, and 3 cups (600 ml) water. Set aside.
    4. Place a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. When small bubbles appear at the bottom of the pan, add the fenugreek seeds, cumin, peppercorns, and red chiles. Sauté for 30 seconds. When the seeds begin to sputter, add the onion and ginger, and sauté for 1 minute. Pour the yogurt mixture into the pan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    5. Add the chile powder and the pakoras and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the pakoras are completely immersed in the kadhi.
    6. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the cilantro and serve hot.