By Renu Jain Chandarana
If there’s one thing that Gujarati food is famous for, it’s the hint of sugar found in nearly every dish that is made. Maybe that’s why I like Gujarati kadhi so much. It’s sweet and tangy and garlicky. I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t loved this soup – with just one bite you really do fall in love. It manages to hit all of your taste buds in one bite – sweet, salty, tangy, spicy and a tiny bit bitter if you bite into a fenugreek seed. It’s velvety-smooth and personally, I like to drink it hot, from a tiny little stainless steel bowl.
Let’s start from the beginning, kadhi is an Indian soup made from chickpea flour (besan) and yogurt. How amazing is it that you can make such a delicious dish with only two simple ingredients as the base? These two ingredients are pretty much the only things similar between the regional kadhis you can find in India. I’m only familiar with the North Indian (Punjabi) and Gujarati variations. Punjabi kadhi is tempered with cumin, fenugreek seeds, asafetida, dried red chilies, coriander, turmeric,onions, and ginger.
It’s usually served with a mung bean dumpling (mung ki dal pakora) soaking in it alongside basmati rice and roti. Gujarati kadhi is tempered with black mustard seeds, cumin, cloves, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, red chilies, a pinch of turmeric, garlic, ginger and palm sugar. It’s usually served poured on top of kitchari – a mixture of rice and mung daal with some kind of green vegetable curry, like green beans, or peas and potato curry. Gujarati kadhi has less turmeric so it’s not as yellow as its North Indian counterpart, and since it’s eaten poured on top of kichari, it’s typically thinner in consistency as well.
This is Indian comfort food – food that feeds your brain and your soul. It’s high in protein and is a great way to serve Indian food to your kids, especially little ones who are just starting to eat! I used to serve mashed kadhi and rice (or quinoa) to my kids before they even turned one and they have loved it ever since. This sweeter version might just be a winner in your home too!
Note: It doesn’t freeze well since it’s made primarily with yogurt. Also, do not use Greek yogurt! Every time I have tried making kadhi with Greek yogurt it curdles. I use plain 2% or Balkan style 6% yogurt. You could substitute buttermilk for the yogurt, just reduce the amount of water you add to the mix. I did not add red chilies to mine as my kids eat this, so feel free to add one long, dried, red chili to your temper to add a kick!
1 cup plain yogurt
2 cups water
2 Tbsp chickpea flour
1 ½ Tbsp oil or ghee
½ tsp black mustard seeds
6-8 curry leaves
½ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
pinch of turmeric
2 cloves of garlic (or one giant clove) minced
1 tsp minced ginger (I use a microplane to grate it)
scant Tablespoon of palm sugar (Gurd/Jaggery) or regular white or brown sugar
salt to taste
In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, water and chickpea flour until there are no lumps.
Heat oil or ghee in a medium pot on your stove over medium heat. Add the black mustard seeds, curry leaves, cumin, fenugreek seeds and cloves. Roast the spices until the mustard seeds start to pop. Do not brown the spices too much. You might have to lift the pot off the stove and swirl the spices around to keep them moving, preventing them from getting burned or too dark on one side. Add the turmeric, garlic, and ginger, and then give the yogurt mixture a quick whisk and add it quickly into the temper. You don’t want to brown the garlic or ginger. Continue to whisk the spices with the yogurt mixture on medium heat until it starts to simmer and thicken. The chickpea flour is a thickener and will give a lot of body to the kadhi.
Depending on your personal preference, you may want to add a little bit more water to thin it out. Allow to simmer for another 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be watchful that the kadhi does not boil over your pot on to your stove. Add salt and the sugar at the very end to your personal taste and simmer again for a few minutes. (If you’ve never had sweetened kadhi before, I do recommend trying it with the scant tablespoon of sugar to get the full Gujarati flavor of sweetened kadhi.)
Remove from heat and serve piping hot with kitchari, rice, roti or all three! How do you like to eat your kadhi? Have you seen my Kitchen Sink Kitchari recipe? This kadhi pairs beautifully with it!
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