Pakodi Kadhi: Fried gramflour dumplings steeped in tempered yogurt curry.
When I was in school; lunch break, library and P.E were my favourite times – exactly in that order! To me, study hours were the damages one had to put up with in order to enjoy these breaks. Sadly library and P.E were not considered as important as lunch and were restricted to once or twice a week. Lunch break was also a time to explore cuisines and share food. In class eight, my best friend, Jatinder Kaur, a Punjabi girl, would bring kadhi every week. She loved South Indian food and we would trade lunch most of the time.
I remember telling my mother to make kadhi but she never did. My mother does not like smooth gravy, and kadhi is basically a smooth sauce made of sour yogurt and gramflour. Tamilian gravy dishes usually have textural contrasts from roasted spices and coconut, and my mother was brought up on such food.
This amazing North-Indian delicacy for many reasons could not win her over. But me? I was bowled. It was a dish I longed for so much, that it became a standard once-a-week thing when I set up my own kitchen.
Kadhi is the sauce. Pakodis are fried dumplings made from gramflour based batter, that when added to the kadhi, swell up, taking in the flavours of the kadhi. Given the number of calories it adds, he pakodi is a rare affair at home. In fact, for this post I made pakodi kadhi after nearly 2-3 years! Usually I add steamed dumplings (refer to my post on Rajasthani gatte ki kadhi) which tastes equally amazing. A day before the dish was made, something happened to jog my memory of Jatinder and her kadhi. I have no contact with Jatinder or I would have called her.
So there you are – am a sucker for nostalgia – and Bollywood. While making this I was humming ‘kadhi re kadhi kaisi….’ from Mausam! (Instead of the original chadi re chadi).
I have replaced milk based curd with cashew-curd. I gave some of the preparation to K. She dipped her finger into the sauce, sucked on it, and had a look that said more than ‘wow’. My son liked it too. I was surprised because he has tastes similar to my mother’s and I was apprehensive that he would not like it. Now, I have come to the conclusion that my mum must have been served a badly made version.
Like many Indian dishes, pakodi kadhi is quite a meal by itself, though it is served on the side with rice or rotis. If you are having it as a side dish, and not a meal, I recommend serving with rice, or better still, with khichdi. The two are complementary and comforting.
Please scroll toward the end of the post for notes and suggested substitutes. I have used organic products as always and I recommend you do to, if you can.
Recipe: Pakodi kadhi | Fried gramflour dumplings in yogurt sauce
Dietary information : Vegan | Vegetarian | Gluten & Grain-free | Lactose, Dairy & Casein free |
Allergen alert! Contains cashews and gram flour
Yield: Serves 5-6 persons
For the pakodi (fried dumplings):
Gramflour / Besan – 2 cups
Cashew yogurt – 2 tablespoons
Water – 1 cup (extra as per need)
Any neutral oil – 1 teaspoon
Carom seeds / Ajawain – 1/2 teaspoon
Red onion, finely chopped, medium sized – 1
Salt and Red Chilli Powder as per taste
For the sauce:
Cashew yogurt – 1 cup
Gramflour / Besan – 2 tbsp.
Salt and Red Chilli Powder as per taste
Turmeric powder / Haldi – 1/4 teaspoon
Water – 2 + 1 cup
Oil – 1/2 to 1 teaspoon
Dried red chillies, cut roughly into bits – 3
Cumin seeds / Jeera – 1 teaspoon
Red chilli powder – 1/8 teaspoon
Turmeric powder – A pinch
Lime juice – 1 teaspoon or more if you want it tangier
Hot water – 1 cup
To make dumplings (pakodi):
Whisk gramflour, cashew yogurt, water and oil to a smooth paste in a bowl. The batter should be similar in consistency to idli or pancake batter. Not runny, not very thick. In order to right the consistency add water in small amounts, whisk and check.
Once the right consistency is reached, add chopped onions, carom seeds, salt and chilli powder. Since it is a batter start with a small amount of salt and chilli powder and adjust as needed. Whisk well.
Using a teaspoon scoop as lmuch of the batter as you can hold and fry in hot oil to golden brown. Fry as many as the oil can hold at one time. Drain onto kitchen paper. Repeat till the batter gets over and set the dumplings aside. Cruel? Right!
To make the sauce (kadhi):
Whisk gramflour, cashew yogurt, and 1 cup of water to a smooth paste in a bowl. The consistency should be similar to thin custard. If needed add about 1/2 a cup of water.
Add salt, chilli powder and turmeric powder. Whisk well.
Heat oil as mentioned under ‘tempering’. When hot season with cumin seeds and dried red chillies. Fry till the cumin seeds turn dark and crackle and the red chillies turn brown. Remove some of the tempering – about a teaspoon, with a little oil – and set it aside for garnish.
Add the prepared custard and using a balloon whisk keep whisking while the sauce cooks, about five minutes. If you do not whisk, the sauce will turn lumpy. The sauce will turn thicker as the gramflour cooks. Adjust thickness to custard consistency adding hot water if necessary.
Reduce heat, and add the prepared dumplings. Stir and simmer for a minute. Remove from heat. Taste, and if it does not taste slightly sour, add a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lime juice and stir.
To the tempering that was set aside, add a teaspoon of hot water and chilli powder and turmeric (listed under temperating). Pour this on the top. Stir very lightly to spread the tempering on the surface. This creates an illusion of fresh tempering on top and lets it float over the curry.
Serve hot. With khichdi, rice or roti. Or have it as a soup.
Keep whisking the sauce while cooking or it will turn lumpy.
The last step is optional, but it helps the dish look nicer. You need not set aside a part of the tempering if you do not want to.
Recipe for cashew curd can be found here.
The sauce should thickly coat the back of a spoon.
Cashew yogurt makes it rich and it tastes no different from regular dairy curd. The recipe can be found here. I do not recommend soy, peanut or coconut milk for this preparation, but if you like the flavours, go ahead.
If you do not want to use fried dumplings, make this with steamed/boiled dumplings. The method for the dumplings can be found here.
If you do not have cashew yogurt or any other dairy-free yogurt, make the sauce as I did earlier in this recipe.