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Mathur Chaturvedi’s yoghurt curry with dumplings and yellow lentils (Katron ka jhor and dhoi)

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

A sattvic diet is one of healthy eating, vegetarian cuisine that avoids garlic and onions. In practice, a saatvik diet is supposed to increase energy levels, happiness and mental clarity. The cuisine is lightly cooked in minimal oil or ghee and based on the vegetarian concept of getting nutrition from natural vegetarian sources. This diet is practised by the Mathur Chaturvedi community originated in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh.

This is a very traditional dish from this cuisine. The dish is quite a labour, and technique-intensive dish so is made primarily for celebrations, birthdays, weddings and other auspicious events.

One of the tests for a new bride coming into the family is how well she can make this dish. The mother-in-law uses this dish as a proxy for the ability of the daughter-in-law to cook and care for her new husband. If the new bride makes this dish well the mother-in-law is confident that the new bride can take care of her family.

The dish is composed of two dishes, the yoghurt curry with dumplings and the dry-cooked moong beans. The curry is mild yet divine and the dumplings are airy and melt in your mouth soft. The technique for making the dumplings is very interesting and getting the consistency right is an art form. Also, the manual technique of getting the batter to drop into the boiling oil is a unique technique that helps create these airy dumplings. The bland dal compliments the rich curry well and the flavours are mild and delicate but so delicious. This dish is served as part of a larger thali complimented with two or more vegetable sides, rice and chapattis at a minimum.

I was staying with my good friends Salil and Rakhi in Chikmagalur when this dish came up in conversation. Of course, I was very interested in the recipe. I want to thank Rakhi for taking the time to teach me the technical aspects of the recipe and for introducing me to the absolutely delicious dish and cuisine.




Ingredients:

For the dumplings:

1 green chilli

1 cup yellow moong dal, soaked overnight in 5 cups of water

3-4 tablespoons cup water

1/4 teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

A pinch of asafoetida

Salt, to taste

Oil, to fry


For the yoghurt curry:

2 1/2 tablespoons chickpea flour (besan)

1 cup yoghurt

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 + 3 cups water

Salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

1/4 teaspoon garam masala


For the temper:

3 tablespoons ghee

A pinch of asafoetida

1 1./2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder


For the dhoi:

1 cup moong dal, soaked overnight in 5 cups of water

1 tablespoon ghee

A pinch of asafoetida

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 cup water for the pressure cooker method, or, 1 cup for the stove-top method

Salt, to taste


To make the dumplings:

Drain the lentils and wash them well. Add to a small blender with the green chilli and the water to make a thick paste. Blitz well till you have a paste that is quite thick with very minute granules.


Pour out the paste into a flat platter and mix well with your hands in a circular motion. The lentils will begin to fluff up and turn white in colour from a pale yellow. Work the lentil paste for about 5 minutes till they are well fluffed.


Add the chilli powder, ground coriander seeds, asafoetida, and salt and mix again for 2 minutes till the spices are well integrated. The paste should have a consistency that is thick, but when picked up should barely flow.


In a wok add enough oil to form a 3-inch layer and heat till very hot. Check the oil by adding a small drop of the paste, it should bubble vigorously immediately. Using the bottom part of your palm scoop up some of the paste and allow it to naturally fall off your palm into the oil in uneven long clumps, see video. Repeat till the wok has 4-5 clumps frying. Fry till the dumplings are lightly golden and very puffy. Remove and set aside on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the rest of the batter till it is over.


When the dumplings have cooled, cut into 1/4-inch bits and set aside.


To make the yoghurt curry:

Mix the yoghurt and the chickpea flour well. Beat well with a whisk or a wooden Indian whisk till all the lumps are dissolved and the batter is very smooth. Continue to beat for 2-3 minutes more till you have a lightly frothy mix.


Add the curry to a pot on medium heat. bring to a light boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Whisk the curry occasionally. Add the turmeric, remaining water, salt, chilli powder, coriander and garam masala and whisk in well till it dissolves completely into the curry. Make sure there are no lumps of the spice powders. Simmer for 3-4 minutes gently.


Add the cut dumplings submerging them into the curry. Close the pot with a lid and cook for 45 minutes till you have a thickened curry, the consistency should be that of light cream. The dumplings should have absorbed the curry completely and be very soft.


To temper the curry:

Have the curry hot and ready in a deep bowl.


Heat the ghee on a medium-low flame. Add the asafoetida, immediately followed by the cumin seeds. Add the chilli powder and remove from the heat. Shake the ghee well and pour over the curry.


Serve immediately.


To make the dhoi:

Pressure cooker method:

Heat the ghee. Rinse out the moong dal and fry in the ghee for 2 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, turmeric, chilli powder and mix in well. Add the water and salt. Mix well again and bring to a boil. Seal the pressure cooker and give 1 whistle or 15 minutes in an Instapot. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Open the pressure cooker and fluff the individual grains with a fork. The lentils should be cooked through but still retain their shape. Serve hot.


For the stovetop method:

Rinse out the moong dal and fry in the ghee for 2 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, turmeric, chilli powder and mix in well. Add the water and salt. mix well again. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes till the dal has cooked through and has a tender bite. The dal should have dried out completely by now. Fluff the individual grains with a fork and serve hot.


Serve as part of a larger thali with 2 vegetables, rice and chapattis.


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