Updated: Aug 30, 2022
I was visiting my brother in Gurgoan, India when I learned that the cook at the neighbors house was an excellent chef. I took this opportunity to learn to make yogurt curries.
Almost every house in India and the developing world has cooks. These folks are excellent at what they do, provide the house with fresh meals, sometimes three times a day and cater to every dietary restriction and whim of the household. Although treatment of these cooks has improved tremendously in recent years, they are still mistreated quite a bit, working in hot kitchens away from the main house and mostly unrecognized. This recipe is for those wonderful chefs and people who work hard every day and are mostly hidden behind the scenes.
Yogurt curries, or kadhi, are prevalent all across India and vary in flavor and consistency from region to region and between communities. These curries are always delicate to make and the perfect curry is considered to be an art form. This version from Punjab is thick, from the chickpea flour, and bold in flavor from the spices and chilies. The tempered chilies drizzled on top make it special, adding that burst of flavor. This curry is usually studded with fritters (bhajis) but I have not included the recipe here to maintain the essence of the curry.
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3 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon chili powder, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
6 cups buttermilk, or yogurt
1/2 cup chickpea flour (besan)
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons oil
3-4 whole red chilies
1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
Heat the oil in a pot and add the fenugreek seeds. Sauté for 30 seconds and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. The mustard seeds will begin to pop in about 20-30 seconds. Add teh onions and sauté till lightly golden. Add the chili powder and turmeric and sauté for another 30-40 seconds without burning the spice powders.
Meanwhile beat the buttermilk and chickpea flour in a blender till very smooth. Add to the curry and bring to a simmer stirring almost constantly. This is the most critical step in the cooking of this curry, the curry will split if left unattended and brought to a boil. Once the curry has come to a simmer it can be left to simmer gently without stirring constantly.Cook for 20 minutes, the curry will thicken with the chickpea flour. Once it is cooked remove from the heat and stir in the salt.
For the tempering, heat the oil in a small pan over a low flame. Add the dried chilies and chili powder. swirl and drizzle over the curry. Stir in and taste for spice and alt.
Serve hot with rice or chapattis.