Do not confuse the word kadhi with the Indian curry or the gravy dishes that you may have tasted or heard about. This is a far cry from it. The Punjabi kadhi is slow cooking, rather simmering, of butter milk or thin curd mixed with gram flour to which dry masala is added and later tempered with clarified butter.
Amongst the Punjabis, where the staple cereal is wheat (chapatti), kadhi is one of the few dishes besides rajma which is eaten or rather preferred to be eaten with rice. Though, personally, I love eating it chilled a day later with piping hot parantha.
I have often heard friends complaining how cumbersome and tedious it is to make kadhi but my perception is different. To those who hold a similar opinion, I would like to say that you DO NOT need to stand near the stove while the kadhi is simmering. Finish other household chores or just relax or do whatever, while it is simmering (keep the flame of the burner on low). Stir it once in a while. Moreover, I believe that once you make this recipe, perhaps you will realise it is actually a cake walk.
I know the cooking time looks a lot but trust me the only time you need to stand near the gas stove (10 minutes in all) is to make the pakodas (dumplings) and temper the kadhi.
Since there are a lot of ingredients for tempering, I assemble them all together in a small bowl so that I do not miss out on any ingredient. Only keep the garlic and the oil separately. You can make two bowls for the two tempering.
Though there are a lot of versions of Punjabi kadhi – kadhi pakoda (with gram flour dumplings), kadhi alu pyaz (with potatoes and onion), kadhi lahsuni (with garlic), etc – since each family has its own preferences and cooking styles but after trying out all the above said varieties, my family prefers kadhi pakoda lahsuni style over others.
Here is my version of Punjabi Kadhi:
For the Kadhi
1 cup curd
6 cups water (if the curd you are using is sour, add a cup of milk and 5 cups of water though some people prefer their curry somewhat sour)
1½ – 2 tbsp gram flour
1 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp red chilli powder (I use the medium hot variety)
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 generous pinch asafoetida
For 1st tempering
1 small pinch Fenugreek Seeds
1 pinch Asafoetida
3-4 Whole Red Chillies
½ tsp Cumin Seeds
½ tsp Mustard Seeds
½ tsp Carom Seeds
½ tsp Whole Coriander Seeds (optional)
1 tsp Coriander powder
7-8 garlic cloves- finely chopped (I add lots of it coz I love its flavour, you can adjust to suit your taste)
1 tbsp oil
For 2nd tempering
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp paprika or Kashmiri Chilli Powder/ Degi Mirch
1 tbsp clarified butter
1 tsp Garam Masala
For Pakoda (Dumplings)
2 ½ to 3 tbsp tbsp gram flour
¼ tsp salt
1 pinch garam masala
2 pinch fruit salt
Chilli powder to taste
1 small onion or shallot (finely chopped)
A handful of fresh coriander or spinach (finely chopped)
Oil for frying
Mix together curd and gramflour and pass them through a large sieve, gradually adding water, for a smooth consistency.
Pour this mixture to the thick bottomed wok or wide mouthed sauce pan with a thick bottom.
Add the dry ingredients to this.
Heat on high flame stirring continuously, till it starts to boil. This is to ensure that the curd does not curdle.
Then reduce the flame and let it simmer. Stir it once a while and scrap it from sides of the wok time to time.
Cook it till it becomes creamy (45 minutes or so) but not too creamy since it will further thicken as it cools.
For 1st tempering
In a small pan, heat the oil and add all the ingredients and when they start spluttering, remove the pan from fire and add garlic. Place the pan again on fire and stir the garlic till it starts to turn golden. Immediately add this to the kadhi and stir it well.
Mix all the ingredients together to make a paste. Keep aside for 20 minutes or so.
Fill a medium sized bowl half with water and keep it aside.
To make the pakodas, heat oil in a wok or pan and add a tea spoon of the batter to it (since they will swell up once they are added to the kadhi) and fry till golden brown.
Take the pakodas out of the oil and transfer them to the bowl of water.
Keep them immersed for not more than 10 to 15 seconds. Then add them to the kadhi.
Finish off the batter in batches this way.
Let the pakodas stand in kadhi for about 10 to 15 minutes and then transfer the kadhi to the serving bowl.
For 2nd tempering
Heat clarified butter in a pan. When it smokes, remove it from the fire.
Add cumin seeds and when it starts to splutter, add the Kashmiri red chilli powder.
It will get cooked within 10 seconds.
Immediately, pour this over the kadhi.
For garnish, add the garam masala over the kadhi and serve hot with rice or chapatti/ parantha.
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