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  • Punjabi Kadi Pakoras
    Spiced Yogurt Gravy with Dumplings

    TOOLS: You’ll need a large mixing bowl; a kadhai, wok, or heavy-bottomed pan; a slotted spoon; a tray lined with paper towels or a dish cloth; a blender; and a deep, heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L stockpot.
    VEGANIZE IT! Although the key to this dish is the tartness of the dairy yogurt, you can make it vegan by substituting the same amount of unsweetened soy or coconut yogurt. Add the juice of ½ a lemon or 1 to 2 teaspoons of amchur (dried mango powder) for additional tartness toward the end of the cooking time.
    NOTE: If you don’t have the time to make the pakoras, just chop up about 6 cups / 900 g of vegetables (I use a mix of carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, kale, and spinach). Add the vegetables with the fresh and dried chiles in Step 4 before adding the yogurt mixture. Then, proceed with the instructions above.

    Once you taste this dish, you’ll understand why North Indians go crazy for it. At once slightly tart, zesty, spicy, and filling, it’s a perfect menu item for a lazy weekend lunch served over rice. Even though the word sounds like a curry, it’s very different from the traditional Indian-style gravy. Every household has a different version, and that’s why, no matter how many ways I make it, I always crave my mom’s.

    • 2 cups /220 g besan (gram or chickpea flour)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
    • ½ teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds)
    • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon /240 mL warm water
    • 2 cups /470 mL vegetable oil, for frying
    For the THE KADI:
    • 3 cups /710 mL plain, unsweetened yogurt
    • ¾ cup /80 g besan (gram or chickpea flour)
    • 1 heaping tablespoon turmeric powder
    • 6 cups /1.4 L water, divided
    • 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
    • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
    • 1 medium yellow or red onion, thinly sliced
    • 2 tablespoons plus 1 pinch salt, divided
    • 1 (4-inch / 10-cm) piece ginger, peeled and grated
    • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and grated or minced
    • 1–3 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced
    • 2–6 whole dried red chiles
    • 1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
    • Brown or white basmati rice, for serving
    • Sliced onions, for serving
    1. Combine all the ingredients for the pakoras, except the oil, in a large mixing bowl and stir until the mixture is evenly blended. Move quickly to Steps 2 through 4—you do not want this mixture to become watery.
    2. In a small kadhai, wok, or heavy-bottomed pan over medium–high to high heat, warm the oil (about 1 inch / 3 cm deep) until it’s hot—but just before it gets too hot. Test the oil by putting in a drop of batter. If it sizzles and immediately comes to the top, the oil is ready. If it falls to the bottom, the oil is not hot enough.
    3. Drop tablespoon-sized balls of dough, 1 at a time, into the hot oil. Depending on the size of the pan, cook 4 to 6 pakoras at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook, turning halfway through the cooking time, for a total of 2 minutes, until the pakoras are golden brown on all sides. Remove from the heat. Unlike pakoras for appetizers, you don’t have to worry if these are a little raw in the middle. They will eventually go into the kadi and will cook through then.
    4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pakoras to a tray lined with paper towels or a dish cloth to absorb the extra oil. Continue until you finish the batter. Remove from the heat.
    For the THE KADI:
    1. Combine the yogurt, the besan, the turmeric, and 4 cups / 950 mL of the water in a blender and process well. The result will look like a frothy yellow milkshake. Set aside.
    2. In a deep, heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L stockpot over medium–high heat, warm the ghee. Add the fenugreek seeds and cook for 20 seconds, until the seeds are just browned. Be careful not to overcook them—they turn bitter very quickly.
    3. Add the onion and the pinch of salt to the stockpot and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly browned. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, for 2 to 3 minutes.
    4. Add the fresh chiles, the dried chiles, the red chile powder, the black pepper, the remaining 2 tablespoons of salt, the yogurt mixture from Step 1, and the remaining 2 cups / 470 mL of water to the stockpot and bring the mixture to a boil.
    5. Reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes, until the mixture thickens.
    6. Carefully fold the fried pakoras into the mixture in the stockpot and simmer for 5 minutes, until they soften. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for 10 minutes, until the pakoras absorb the flavors of the curry.
    7. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl. Garnish with the cilantro and serve with the basmati rice and the sliced onions.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

© 2016 Alta Editions LLC.