What is curry?
When I first moved outside of India, my western colleagues and friends kept on asking me about “curry masala” or my favourite curry. I was completed baffled as I had no idea what they were talking about. The only kind of curry I knew was the one made from besan (black chickpea flour). I tried explaining but it only confused matters further. Slowly it dawned on me that in the West all kinds of Indian dishes are lumped together into a generic term called curry!
There is no concept of curry in India – it’s an oversimplification to help folks in the West deal with the complex and varied Indian cuisine. So if you want to sound knowledgeable about Indian cuisine please don’t use the term curry to refer to Indian food!
And I am sharing the only recipe for curry I know! This recipe for making besan kadhi uses chick pea flour, yogurt and about thousand (!) spices. It is fragrant and utterly satisfying when served with parathas or plain basmati rice. You can also add pakora (onion and potato fritters) to the kadhi which results in a lovely, rich dish. I hope you will give it a try!
- 1/2 cup besan black chickpea flour
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 4 tbsp mustard oil smoked
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds methi seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 dried red chillies
- 15-20 curry leaves kadi patta (fresh or dried)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds or rayee seeds
- 1/2 tsp carom seeds ajwain
- 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 2-3 medium onions (2-3 inch in diameters), finely chopped
- 4-5 green chillies
- 2 inch ginger peeled and finely chopped
- Salt to taste
- Handful coriander leaves fresh, chopped
- Keep the yogurt outside the fridge for a day or use yogurt which is couple of days old as it will result in a better tasting kadhi.
- Mix the besan, yogurt, turmeric and salt with 1/4 cup of water to help with the mixing. Make sure that there are no besan solids left.
- Set a large wok on heat and add the besan mixture and add 6 cups of water. Bring the mixture (kadhi) to boil and turn the heat to low.
- Simmer the kadhi on low heat for an hour. Stir at regular intervals to make sure that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. You can add more water if the mixture becomes too thick.
- In parallel, set a wok on high heat and add 1 tbsp of oil. Once the oil is hot, add fenugreek and cumin seeds. Immediately afterwards add half of the ginger and half of green chillies and saute for 2-3 seconds.
- Add half of the chopped onions. Turn down the heat and saute until onions are translucent. Turn off the heat and add the mix to the pan in which the kadhi is simmering.
- Once the kadhi has cooked for an hour, set a wok on high heat and add 1 tbsp of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the dried red chillies. Cook the red chillies for less than half a minute. Remove the chillies from the oil and add it to the kadhi.
- In the same oil as above, add the curry leaves. Cook for a second and then add mustard seeds, coriander powder, garam masala and carom seeds. Cover the pan so that mustard seeds don't spatter all over. Cook for less than a minute and add it to the kadhi.
- In the same wok, add 2 tbsp of oil and once the oil is hot, add the remaining ginger and then immediately afterwards add the remaining onions. Saute the mixture for about ten minutes, alternating the heat between high and medium, until the onions are cooked. Add it to the kadhi.
- Add onion and potato fritters. See link to the recipe in the notes.
- Simmer the kadhi for a minute or two and then turn off the heat.
- Garnish with fresh coriander just before serving.