Monday, May 18, 2015

Kadhi for the Soul- a Yogurt Soup Comfort Food.

I don’t think anything like dahi existed anywhere other than in India. Dahi is a kind of Indian yoghurt. It is late in life that I realised that it is a luxury and many poor people in India do not even know what it is. However, in my family, we had dahi at lunch and dinner. I love it so much that I can smother (almost) any food with dahi.

In some regions in India dahi is not much of an item. This could be because of the weather or other factors. In Bengal, it is mainly served as Mishti Doi, a sweetened form. A similar thing is done in Gujarat and Maharashtra and it is called Shrikhand. I’m not too fond of either.

Dahi is hard to make though it’s not that complicated. Take about half to one litre of real milk (I feel that some pouch and carton varieties have some preservative added which prevents the formation of dahi) and heat it. You should be able to put your finger in but it should be warm. Add a few tablespoons of real dahi. One should be able to get some at an Indian dairy. I do not think that the yoghurt in cartons works to make dahi. Give the milk with the starter a good stir. Leave it in a warm place and it should set in a few hours in an Indian summer.

In colder weather, the milk has to be hotter and the container in which you set the dahi should be kept warm. An insulated vessel is a good idea.

Dahi gets sour in time and, in any case, it is always a bit tangy. When it is too sour to eat as such or with rice, people turn it into many dishes.

There’s the refreshing more or South Indian buttermilk, chaas, lassi, etc. And dahi is used in cooking -in meat and fowl and fish dishes, as a flavouring and thickening agent in curries or as garnish like a swirl of cream. It is also cooked into a curry and there are variations of a dahi based curry all over India.

My mother was Punjabi and Kadhi is a Punjabi dish. A good kadhi is real comfort food-something like a yoghurt soup.
1 cup dahi-preferably a bit sour and thick
1 glass of water
3 T chickpea flour (besan)
1 T garlic ginger paste
1-2 green slit chillies (don't slit them if you can't stand the heat-and avoid or add only one mild chilli in that case)
1 sprig of curry leaves
½ t haldi (turmeric pwd)
1 t chilli pwd
1 t salt (or to taste)
1 pinch hing (asafoetida)

Blend the dahi and water well, either by beating or in a mixer.

Make a smooth paste of the flour and add it to the above mixture and blend again adding the powders and other ingredients.

Pour it into a casserole or saucepan and put it on the fire. Stir continuously or it will curdle or split. Once it comes to a vigorous boil, lower the flame and let it boil for a little longer.

In the meantime, you can make the pakoris and the tadka.

Ingredients for the pakoris:

1 cup chickpea flour (besan)


Mix the besan into a smooth batter with water to form a thick dropping consistency. Let the batter rest for some 15 minutes.

Heat about 1/2 a cup of oil in a pan.

Beat the batter till light and fluffy and drop spoonfuls into the hot oil.

Lower the flame.

The pakoris will swell a bit and change colour-do not let them get too brown. Turn them over and drain them and drop them into the kadhi.



1-2 T oil or ghee

1 tsp mustard seeds

A pinch of fenugreek seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1-2 dry red chillies, whole or broken into bits

Heat the oil/ghee and add the mustard seeds first, then the red chilli and fenugreek and lastly the cumin. The mustard seeds should splutter but not burn. The chilli should darken but not get black and similarly for the other things.

Pour this into the kadhi and serve hot with plain rice.

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