The changing of season has arrived. I finally went outside to check what if anything was still growing in my vegetable boxes. I wasn’t hopeful seeing that we have had some awful weather the last week or so. Surprisingly, I found some tomatoes among the kale and spinach. Green, ready to take inside to ripen and beautifully formed. The tomatoes have been one of my favourite plants that I have grown this year. The taste of home-grown tomatoes cannot compare to anything I have ever eaten in the UK. The closest would be when I have eaten them in the Med, Kenya or India. I can honestly say I grew the most delicious tomatoes I have ever eaten! However, next year I will grow them better by spreading out the plants more so that they grow bigger. And I want to try to can them, too. The thought of using store-bought canned tomatoes is pretty unappealing now since I have been spoilt with the taste of my home-grown babies. Saying that, there are times when convenience overtakes and so I am sure I will not abandon the canned version completely.
Today I am sharing one of my favourite vegetarian Indian dishes- one where I have incorporated some of my home-grown tomatoes! I chose this today because it’s something completely comforting and simple to make. It’s warm, uplifting, sun like yellowness and soupy consistency perfectly carries flavours and spices to sooth your soul. My favourite kind of dish.
Kadhi, is most simply put as a spicy yogurt soup. I have to say, It doesn’t sound quite right; hot yogurt sounds wrong to me. However, although not eaten like a soup- more like a dal would be eaten- with rice or chapattis, the main ingredient in this dish is yogurt and it is eaten hot, therefore that is how I will describe it!
Traditionally kadhi would be made to use up the left over yogurt from the previous day’s meal. Yogurt is eaten with almost every meal in my family. And in India where yogurt was never bought, but made fresh at home daily, there were always left overs. You would never normally eat the yogurt from the previous day as it would be slightly more sour and it was so easy to make yogurt. Instead you’d be spoilt with taza – or fresh yogurt at every meal. In England I do make yogurt most weeks, but I don’t have the luxury or need to make it daily as I don’t make Indian food daily. If I make it once a week, I am happy as there are still some left overs for making kadhi or other tasty dishes that require sour yogurt so it all gets used. If I fancy kadhi and I don’t have any yogurt store-bought natural live yogurt works just as well.
There are many different kinds of kadhi from different regions of India. My family’s kadhi is of the Punjabi variety, made with yogurt, spices and chickpeas flour, it also has the addition of pakora dumplings. These are fried dumplings made from chickpeas flour, onions, potatoes, spices and any other vegetables you may want to add. Once fried they are added to the hot kadhi to simmer until softened. Often vegetables such as carrots and onions are added to the kadhi for added heartiness and to balance the sourness of the yogurt. Punjabi kadhi is generally thick in consistency like that of a thick custard. The kadhi is served with rice or chappatis and makes for a wholesome meal. In Gujarat, kadhi is also made with yogurt, chickpeas flour and spices. The spices used are slightly different and the consistency is thinner -more soup like and there are no dumplings. The flavour also incorporates that signature Gujarati sweet and sour pairing due to the addition of jaggery or sugar as well as a slightly more pronounced warm gingery-ness. I tend to enjoy this style of kadhi more. The last one that I have tasted and attempted myself is Sindi kadhi. This kadhi is not made with yogurt, but is only made with chickpeas flour and spices. For the sourness, which the other two varieties get from the yogurt, tamarind paste is used instead. Various vegetables such as beans, potatoes, drumsticks (I used these in my Toor Dal recipe) and onions to name a few are also added. At some point I hope to share a recipe for this kind as the flavour is very different and it’s absolutely delicious.
My Favourite kind of Kadhi
Serves 8 at least, but keeps well for about a week in the fridge. Flavour develops over time and is even more delicious the next day.
My version as with most of my Indian dishes is a hybrid of a couple of different styles of Indian cooking. From a young age I have enjoyed both Punjabi and Gujarati kadhi. At home I’d enjoy Punjabi kadhi, sometimes with pakora dumplings and sometimes with sweetcorn. The flavour was the proper Punjabi flavour- no added sweetness- just the sourness from the yogurt and the natural sweetness from the vegetables that were added. It was important that the yogurt used was not overly sour for this reason- a day or two old was fine. My family had many Gujarati friends both in Kenya and in England and kadhi was a popular dish that I would have often when visiting. As I described above, although made with similar ingredients, it was a thinner consistency and there was a much more of a balance between the sweet and sour flavours for me. Oh and it was hotter too. Gujaratis like their chilies! I have taken my favourite parts from each and made my own. Kadhi is a versatile dish and so you can add whatever vegetables you fancy to vary the flavour. I like to serve it with plain boiled basmati rice.
4 cups of natural live yoghurt ( I tend to use low fat, but for a richer consistency you can use whole milk yoghurt)
5-6 tbsp chickpeas flour – besan (the more you add the thicker it will become) 5-6 gives you a single cream consistency. Punjabi kadhi would have at least a 1/2 as much more.
2-3 tbsp jaggery (to taste)
2-3 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chili powder ( to taste)
1 green chili chopped finely (optional as you are also adding this to the tarka)
6 cups of water
1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds (optional)
2-3 tsp ground roasted coriander
For the tempering tarka in Punjabi or vaghaar in Gujarati or chaunk in Hindi
2-4 green chilies chopped finely
1 large spanish onion or two regular medium onions sliced
2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves – about 12 leaves (fresh is vital for flavour. You can try to buy these fresh and freeze them immediately. They work well this way. Dried ones will not work nearly as well)
2 tbsp homemade ghee or butter or a mix of oil and ghee/butter. I never use store-bought ghee for cooking as I find the flavour and smell unappetizing. To me, it’s not what ghee should smell or taste like. It is very easy to make your own ghee at home and you will find a huge difference in the taste of your dishes because of it. If you do not have the time to make ghee, I would always recommend use butter instead of store-bought ghee. Just be sure not to heat it too high as butter has a tendency to burn because of the milk solids that are still in it.
1 heaped tsp cumin
1 heaped tsp mustard seeds
2 inches of cassia bark/cinnamon sticks
3-5 whole red chillies of your choice. (optional)
1/2- 1/4 tsp of asafoetida – hing (optional – I know some people don’t like this because of the smell, but if you add it sparingly, and fry it a little it adds a great flavour)
1-2 flavourful tomatoes chopped into chunks – sometimes also add sweet corn. The tomato adds a tang to the kadhi and compliments the sweet onions. (optional)
a good handful of finey chopped coriander leaves and stems
- Take a large heavy based pan and put the yoghut, chickpea flour,, turmeric, red chili powder and coriander corriander powder in. Mix well to ensure there are no lumps.
- Next add the grated/crumbled jaggery, finely chopped green chilli if you’re using it, the grated ginger, and the whole coriander seeds. Mix well and finally add the 6 cups of water, stir and put on the cooker to bring to the boil. Ensure to stir periodically to avoid lumps.
- While the kadhi is coming to a boil make the tarka. This is the heart of the dish- where the oils from the spices are released to impart delicious flavour through the dish. In a frying pan heat the ghee/butter/oil until hot.
- Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, whole red chilies, cloves and cassia/cinnamon sticks. Fry for 20-30 seconds until the mustard seeds are popping vigriously.
- Now add the curry leaves which will spit quite a lot if they are fresh. allow them to spit for 10-20 seconds before adding the green chillies and onions together.
- Let the green chillies and onions cook on high heat until they start to soften. You don’t want them to go brown. Just to sweeten by softening them a little.
- Finally make a little space in the frying pan by moving the onions to the side and add the asofodetia. Allow this to fry for 10 second or so before stiring it into the onions and tipping the entire contents of the pan into the kadhi which should have started to thicken.
- To get all the flavour from the pan I usually add a few spoons of the kadhi into the frying pan, stir around and tip it back into the kadhi.
- Stir the kadhi well and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste- about 1 1/2 tsp should do… Add less first as the yoghurt may have some salt in it.
- Let the kadhi cook on a simmer for 10 minutes or so to let the flavours of the spices develop.
- About 5 mintures before serving add the tomatoes and stir. You can switch off the heat when you do this. And top with the chopped coriander.
- Serve with a bowl of freshly cooked basmati rice.