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Bowl of Punjabi Kadhi Pakora with bowls of salad and rice on side

Punjabi Kadhi Pakora

Shweta Arora
A popular north Indian delicacy, Punjabi Kadhi Pakora is made of pakoras (fritters) simmered in a creamy, tangy, and spiced yogurt besan (gram flour) curry. Pairs well with steaming hot rice!!
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

For Kadhi

  • 2 cups Yogurt sour preffered
  • ½ cup gram flour besan, chickpea flour
  • 5 cups water and as needed
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt adjust to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds rai
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds zeera
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds methi dana
  • pinch asafoetida hing
  • 2 dry red chillies brokem
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger minced
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced

For Pakora

  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp cilantro (coriander) leaves finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ajwain carom seeds
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder adjust to taste
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp amchur powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup besan
  • pinch baking soda
  • water
  • oil for frying

For Tadka and garnishing:

  • 1 tbsp ghee or oil
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2-3 red chillies whole
  • 10-15 curry leaves
  • ½ to 1 red chilli powder adjust to taste
  • ½ tsp garam masala optional
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves.

Instructions
 

For making Punjabi Kadhi on Stovetop:

  • In a mixing bowl add the yogurt and whisk until smooth. To this, add the chickpea flour (besan), salt, and turmeric powder and whisk again until smooth. Add 5 cups of water and mix until well combined. Keep aside.
  • In a thick bottomed cooking pot, add oil, once hot add the mustard seeds. When the seeds start to splutter add the asafoetida (hing), cumin seeds, and fenugreek seeds. This is the first tempering
  • Once the seeds become light brown add the onions with some salt and saute until onions are translucent. Stir in the ginger-garlic and cook until raw smell disappears.
  • Lower the heat, give the yogurt besan mixture a quick stir, and then add it. Mix until well combined.
  • Increase the heat slowly to medium and let the mixture come to a boil while stirring continuously to prevent it from sticking and curdling.
  • Lower the heat, cover, and let it simmer for 15-20 mins.
  • As the Kadhi simmers, it will thicken and the color deepens. If you feel the need add more water, add ½ cup at a time. I added a total of 1 cup.
  • While the kadhi simmers make pakoras. The more the kadhi simmer the better it tastes. Just make sure to keep stirring in between and adjusting the water needed.

For making Punjabi Kadhi in Instant Pot:

  • In a mixing bowl add the yogurt and whisk until smooth. To this, add the chickpea flour (besan), salt, and turmeric powder and whisk again until smooth. Add 5 cups of water and mix until well combined. Keep aside.
  • Start the Instant pot on saute mode (normal). Add ghee and once hot add the mustard seeds. When the seeds start to splutter add the asafoetida (hing), cumin seeds, and fenugreek seeds.
  • Once the seeds become light brown add the onions with some salt and saute until onions are translucent. Stir in the ginger-garlic and cook until the raw smell disappears.
  • Cancel saute mode. Give the yogurt besan mixture a quick stir, and then add it. Mix until well combined.
  • Close the lid with the vent to venting. Select soup mode, less and less pressure, and time it for 15 mins. (It will take some time to preheat before the timer for 15 mins starts). While the Kadhi cooks make pakoras.
    Once done allow the pin to drop and open. Mix well.

For making pakora

  • In a bowl add the onions and spices (ajwain, red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, amchur powder, salt) and mix well.
  • if you have time, let this mixture sit for 10 mins. Onions will ooze some water.
  • Then add the besan and mix again. Add water as required to make a batter (not too thick or too runny). I added about ½ cup of water.
  • Add a generous pinch of baking soda and mix a few times to incorporate it. It helps make the pakora light and fluffy.
  • Heat oil in a wok (kadhai) on medium heat. Once hot add 1-2 tbsp of hot oil to the of batter. Test oil by adding a drop of batter to the oil. It should float to the top.
  • Mix the batter and using a cookie scoop add the batter to the hot oil.
  • Fry on medium heat. Flip when one side is golden. Cook both sides until golden brown.
  • Drain and remove on a tissue paper to absorb excess oil. Keep aside.
  • You can make these pakoras ahead of time too and refrigerate for a day or two or freeze for longer use.

Tempering (Tadka)

  • Just before serving, add the pakoras to the kadhi and bring the kadhi to a boil and simmer for 10 mins for the pakoras to soak the kadhi. While they soak make the Second tempering.
  • Add ghee or oil in a pan and once hot add the cumin seeds, allow these to splutter. Turn the heat to low and add rest of the ingredients like spices (red chili powder, garam masala), whole red chilies, curry leaves.
  • Give it a good mix and make sure not to burn the spices as it will make them bitter.
  • Transfer the kadhi to serving bowl and add the tempering to the kadhi and garnish with some cilantro.
  • Serve Kadhi warm with steaming hot basmati rice or roti along with some kachumber (Indian spiced salad), green chutney, or pickle for that complete meal.

Notes

  • If yogurt or Kadhi is not sour enough, add some amchur (Dry mango) powder.
  • Use good quality besan (gram flour), spoilt, or stale smelling will ruin the recipe.
  • You can replace fenugreek seeds with Kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves). add it after kadhi is cooked.
  • Don't skip the second tempering made in ghee. It adds a lot of flavor and color to the dish.
  • Curry leaves are not traditional in Punjabi recipes but trust me on this, add it while tempering and you will never make it any other way.
  • The kadhi thickens as it sits so adjust the consistency by adding water as required.
  • Make Pakoras with onions and cilantro and spices, they really make a difference and are more flavorful than plain gram flour pakoras.
  • Stir in some baking soda while making pakoras for those soft, fluffy, melt in mouth pakoras. Little goes a long way.
  • Add some hot oil to the pakora batter just before frying as this helps to make them crispy, lighter & will prevent them from soaking up oil. 
  • Fry pakoras on medium heat. If the oil is not hot enough, the pakoras will soak up oil. Frying them on a high flame will brown them quickly without cooking inside.
  • Add pakora just before serving and simmer for them to soak up the flavor. Simmering for longer will make them too soft and cause them to break.
  • Use store-bought boondi in place of pakoras if you want to skip frying.
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