Sunday, December 20, 2015

Pakodi kadhi - My take on a tangy, spicy sauce with (non)fried gram flour dumplings

DD is home and home is well.. a little bit happier and a lot more chirpier sanctuary :-). I didn't even realize I missed her so much not even when I saw her in the airport earlier in the week. Once we reached home, had food and snuggled into the bed, I just sat there listening to the gentle snore and the regular breathing, simply staring at the lovely face that has changed so much over the years yet looks the same as ever. Oh boy, time flies.. Suddenly the house seems to have filled with sound and music as she runs around, Flora finds time to get off of her slumber and go sit next to DD wherever she is. The morning hugs are back in rage as are hugs for no reason all through the day. And 2 days are more than enough time to fill the house with a lot of clutter and move things to their 'so not rightful' places :-). All the order I tried to bring in the last couple of months of her absence has now gone out of the window and I am simply glad to have a books laden dining table, clump of clothes on the floor in bed room and snack plates and juice cups on the bed stand :-). It only goes to prove that I am not certainly the 'Dina Pathak' kind of mommy from 'Khubsoorat' - for those of you that didn't get this reference, get a hold of this golden oldie hindi movie, it is a perfect watch for a cold, wintry afternoon, oh wait until you have made this kadhi so you can enjoy it even more!
As with everything else, our food is going to look different too during the holidays. We have bid a bye-bye for a while to the healthy millets and quinoas. White fluffy rice rules the meals and it is all mostly about DD's favorite things being prepared in the kitchen in the coming couple of weeks while we enjoy the holidays together. I am going to worry about all the extra pounds that I am bound to put on later, there is a new year right around the corner and I need a resolution to kick off the new year, right? Brace yourselves for some exotic and some very simple recipes if I can just find the time to sit and write about them.

The weather outside is nippy and they are predicting a lot of snow (atleast by PNW standards) in the cascade mountains this week. I am a couple of hours away from the mountains but that shouldn't hold me back from celebrating the chilly weather in all its glory, does it? A flavorful pakodi kadhi with some steamed rice sounded like a perfect brunch for the family yesterday as we all got up lazily and didn't feel like separating breakfast and lunch. When I plan for a brunch on weekends, it is both easy to make and quick to finish. How many of you remember one of those super popular Indian advertisements for a healthy oil where the lady of the house is always impeccably dressed, with just a perfect strand of hair out of place to suggest she actually worked hard coming out of the kitchen with a bowl of some deep fried goodies in her hands. The dining table is already set with many other delicious dishes and the entire family including gracefully aging in laws, beautiful yet naughty kids and ofcourse the family dog are sitting around it with angelic smiles on their faces. Today's menu will get you pretty close to that picture, I leave it to you to actually dress up when you come to the dining table, does not happen in our house though, we are mostly in our pajamas and want the food ready to go :-). I had everything including the coveted sour curd at my hand's reach, so I started the preparation at around 8.30 and was done with a full meal on the table within 2 hours. For a focused toil of a couple of hours, a delicious meal to be enjoyed with family, that is the kind of Saturdays I love :-)
Pakodi wali kadhi or yogurt sauce with deep fried gram flour dumplings is a delicacy from the land of Punjab. Like most everything Punjabi, this curry is bold in colors, flavors and texture and makes a full meal. While it is a perfect side dish for both rice and roti, the traditional combination is to eat this with rice and hence kadhi-chawal is a colloquially fused word and always said in a single breath. Though the concept is similar to the Majjige huli from South India, the preparation and ingredients are very regional and bring out their own delicious tastes. Take some sour yogurt, add a thickening agent such as gram flour, sprinkle a liberal dose of spices and freshness of ginger, simmer & cook until the flour is well cooked and the curry is silky, creamy - sounds really simple, right? But I take a bow to the first person that actually came up with this delicious recipe, in my world they get a 100% for creativity.

I had never ventured out to make pakodi kadhi at home until recently though I have tasted it on multiple occasions made by different people. From restaurants to parties, this is a popular item where Indian food is considered. It is one of DD's favorite items to order after palak paneer of course when we go out for a North Indian dinner. I had this on my list of things to be made this holiday season when she is home, and such a success it was, I am sure it will sneak back on the list again before she leaves for college :-)
Traditionally, kadhi has deep fried pakodas and I made them in my usual low calorie way using the paddu pan, this method alleviates my mortal fear of exploding midriff to some extent. If you want, go ahead and deep fry them :-). If you want to skip the pakodas altogether, add one big potato chopped along with onions and let it cook as you simmer the sauce. This tastes great too served with some roasted papads. So the choice is literally yours to make. Nothing beats a naturally sour yogurt in this recipe but I have added my notes to compensate for lack of sour curds at the bottom of this post, check it out.
The list of ingredients and procedure may look a little daunting but with some good planning you can avoid all the sweat. A few simple tips will ensure that you come out of the kitchen smiling and holding a bowl of super delicious kadhi that folks are bound to fall in love with. I recommend starting the kadhi, get the first boil and simmer it down before you start to make the pakodis, this gives you enough time to make the pakodis in peace while also being able to stir the kadhi pot once every few minutes. Once the pakodas are done, you will still have time on your hands to make a simple flavored rice to get your entire meal ready together.
I am so glad that India has all these different regional delicacies and variations that the list of dishes never end if you are an enthusiastic foodie. I came across many, many recordings of authentic Punjabi kadhi on the internet, and like a salad bowl, I put many of the suggestions and recommendations of folks into my bowl, made sure the flavor was perfect for our palates and came out with a really, truly good pakodi kadhi. I won't claim this to be authentic or Punjabi but it definitely is something you don't want to miss out on before the winter passes.

What do you need to make pakodi kadhi? 
Kadhi ingredients
3/4 cup gram flour/besan
2 cups yogurt (sour yogurt)
8 cups water
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion (optional)
5-6 green chilies (adjust to taste)
2 pieces of ginger about 1 inch each
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp red chili powder
1/2 Tsp coriander powder
1/2 Tsp turmeric powder
2 Tbsp oil
1 Tsp mustard seeds
1 Tsp cumin seeds
1 Tsp fenugreek seeds
2-3 dry red chilies
1/8 Tsp asafoetida
Pakodi ingredients
3/4 cup besan/gram flour
1 medium sized potato
1 small onion
1/2 cup chopped methi (fenugreek) leaves
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp ajwain seeds
1/2 Tsp red chili powder (optional)
1-2 green chilies
1 Tbsp oil for roasting the pakodis
pinch of baking soda

How do you make Pakodi kadhi? 
Pakodi preparation (low calorie prep)
  • Wash and chop potatoes into small pieces 
  • Chop onions into small pieces
  • Chop green chilies into small pieces
  • Bring all ingredients listed under pakodis except for the oil in a bowl and mix it with your fingers. 
  • If needed, add a spoonful of water to bring them into a thick batter. 
  • Heat the paddu(ebleskiever or aebleskiver) pan on medium heat, and add a drop of oil into each of the hole and spread it with a pastry brush. 
  • Take a spoonful of batter in hand, flatten it gently and place it into the hole. 
  • Brush oil on top. 
  • Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until the bottom side turns golden brown and crisp. 
  • Lift and flip the pakodis over onto the other side and let it cook for another 2 minutes and remove them onto a plate. 
  • Keep them aside until ready to dip in the kadhi (you may have to tie your hands at the back to resist eating the pakodis as they are very delicious :-))
  • There is always the option to deep fry the pakodis in hot oil but for recipes where they are dunked in a sauce, I find that the paddu pan is just a great, guilt free method. 

Kadhi preparation
  • Whisk yogurt to make it smooth. 
  • Take a deep and wide bowl, add yogurt and sieve the gram flour on top of it. 
  • Using a whisk or hand blender, whisk this to a mixture without any lumps. 
  • Wash green chilies & ginger, peel ginger skin and remove the stalks of chilies. 
  • In a mortar & pestle (or a small blender jar) make a smooth paste of green chilies and ginger without adding any water. 
  • Add salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and the ginger-green chili paste to this mixture and whisk it well. 
  • Dip your finger into this mixture and taste it, it needs to be an explosion of salt, spice and sourness in your mouth. Adjust spices to taste. 
  • Add about 6 cups of water and whisk everything together. 
  • Heat a deep kadai or a heavy bottom sauce pan on medium heat with 2 Tbsp oil. 
  • Once the oil is hot, add mustard, fenugreek and cumin seeds. 
  • As mustard starts to pop, add asafoetida and dry red chilies. Let roast for about 30 seconds
  • Add the thinly sliced onion (if you are not using this, go to the next step)
  • Saute onion for a minute or so until it turns limp. 
  • Reduce the heat to low.
  • Whisk the besan-yogurt mixture once more so there is no collection of besan at the bottom of the bowl and pour it carefully into the sauce pan. 
  • Use the hand whisk and blend it all together, if the consistency of the sauce is thicker than you like, add the remaining 2 cups of water. 
  • Increase the heat to medium high and bring the sauce to a boil, keep stirring with the whisk or a ladle frequently so besan doesn't end up becoming lumps. 
  • Reduce heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about an hour and 15 minutes. 
  • I am told that the word 'kadhi' is indicative of the slow simmering and stirring process involved to get the right texture and glistening finish of the sauce. 
  • You will notice that the oil used for seasoning comes to the top as besan cooks and the sauce gets a nice shiny, glowing look. switch off the stove. 
  • If you are serving the kadhi immediately, add the pakodi into it, if not keep them separate and mix when ready to serve. 
Notes: 
  • Yogurt used in kadhi needs to be sour, if you are using store bought sweet yogurt you can use one of the following ingredients to bring about the sourness - 1 Tsp of amchoor (dry mango) powder or 1/2 Tsp tamarind paste or 1 Tbsp lemon juice. Add this to the besan paste and whisk before you start to heat it. 
  • Pakodis in the kadhi can be made according to your taste and using ingredients that you like most - only onions, only potatoes, or any combination of pakodi vegetables. 
  • Adding fresh fenugreek to the pakodis brings about a wonderful flavor to the dish, if you do not have it garnish the kadhi with some kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves) as a replacement. 
  • Kadhi tends to thicken as it cooks and also cools, so start with a pretty watery mixture. 
  • Simmering and stirring frequently are the key to a great kadhi, you can get it done with some planning as you set the kadhi on the stove first before starting to make pakodis. If you are really looking for a hands off experience, use a slow cooker or crock pot. 

3 comments:

NamsVeni Pothas said...

congratulations enjoy the holidays with DD. mouth watering dish perfectly fits in this winter menu. nice pictures

sashi said...

have a wonderful time with DD and say hi to her on our behalf. I am sure it will be a foodie heaven. Happy new year.

Lucky Sign said...

nice blog! i found today this blog, and tasty recipe and looks so beautiful. thankyou for shearing this information with us!chowringhee satyaniketan