Friday, February 7, 2014

Kadhi Pakora

I am a huge fan of Indian food. One of my favorite dishes is Kadhi Pakora. I never really knew what "Kadhi Pakora" meant, I just knew that I liked it. My friend, Seema, explained that pakoras are the fritters made from chickpea flour (AKA Besan or Gram Flour) that usually have vegetables in them, and the kadhi is the sauce or gravy that they sit in. Kadhi is apparently also served as is with rice or roti (a type of Indian wheat flatbread).


In searching recipes for this dish, it seemed like searching for a Kadhi Pakora recipe was something like searching for a cheeseburger recipe - although there are a few basic ingredients, the variations are seemingly endless.

Some pakoras have no vegetables at all, and are more like a dumpling. Others are something akin to an onion ring with very little batter. The kadhi varied as well, with consistencies that ranged from a thin hollandaise consistency to thick (like pudding), some with a few spices and some with a list half a page long.

Seema helped me choose which spices I should use - I asked her which ones she liked in her kadhi (I've been lucky enough to have had dinner with her family, and she is an amazing cook, so I knew I couldn't go wrong asking her advice!)

I decided to make the pakoras with a minimal amount of batter - just enough to hold them together - and add them to the kadhi at the last minute to keep their crispiness.

I have to say I was pretty happy with how they turned out. Give them a try - the recipe is long, but it's really not that much work, and the result is well worth it!

Kadhi Pakora
by Jennifer
adapted from these recipes:
How To Make Crispy Vegetable Pakora on TanishKitchen.com
Punjabi Kadhi Pakora on VegRecipesofIndia.com

Kadhi:
1/4 cup besan (gram, or chickpea flour)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (cayenne)
1/2 teaspoon dried methi leaves, crumbled
6 ounces plain whole milk yogurt (I used Maple Hill Creamery as it has a nice tangy flavor to it)
1 1/2 cups water
1 Tablespoon ghee
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon methi seeds
1/2 - 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 dried The Spice House Tien Tsin Chinese Hot Red Chile Peppers
1/8 teaspoon The Spice House Asafoetida Powder
1 large garlic clove, pressed
1/2 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Whisk first 6 ingredients (through methi leaves) in a medium bowl. Whisk in yogurt until smooth, then whisk in water and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat ghee in a deep skillet or sautee pan. Add cumin and methi seeds and stir until seeds start to pop and begin to darken, about 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat and let cool for a couple of minutes (this will keep the next additions from burning). Still off heat, add jalapeño, dried chile pepper, asafoetida, garlic, and ginger. Stir continuously to avoid burning ginger and garlic. Place back onto heat and slowly add yogurt-besan mixture. Bring to boil, still over medium heat, then turn heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes while you make the pakoras.

Pakoras:
1/4 cup besan (gram or chickpea flour)
1/4 teaspoon The Spice House Ajowan Seeds
1/4 teaspoon Garam Masala
1/8 teaspoon The Spice House Asafoetida Powder
1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
4 medium cooked potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch matchsticks
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons water
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Oil for cooking pakoras

Whisk together besan, ajowan seeds, Garam Masala, and asafoetida in a small bowl.

Place onion and potatoes in a medium bowl. Toss vegetables with the 1/2 teaspoon salt and let stand 20 minutes. Sprinkle with flour mixture and toss to coat vegetables evenly. Add water and stir well to combine. The vegetables should look like they are lightly coated with a batter the consistency of pancake batter. Stir in chopped cilantro.

Fry a couple of tablespoons of the coated vegetables in about 1/8 inch of oil over medium heat. Cook until golden brown on one side, then flip and cook the other side. This should take 2-3 minutes per side. Set the cooked pakoras on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil, and when all of the pakoras are done, nestle them in the simmering kadhi until warm. Serve with additional cilantro as a garnish, if desired.

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