So, you may be wondering, what is kadhi and why do you need this kadhi recipe? Kadhi is a traditional, Indian soup made of chickpea flour (besan) and yogurt. It is the ultimate comfort food, particularly when you top it over a giant pile of long-grain basmati rice. And, you need it because it is easy to make, full of protein, absolutely delicious, and super comforting for any tough or stressful days.
Different states in India are known for their different versions of kadhi. In Punjab, for example, people typically add pakoras (vegetable fritters) for a hearty and unique flavor. Folks from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, and South India have their own versions with distinct characteristics. This kadhi recipe is a classic version (and the one we make at home) and probably most closely aligns with how people in Gujarat traditionally make kadhi.
The key to this kadhi is in layering the flavor. A lot of the same spices are used twice, once while cooking and again in the tempering. Yay for minimal ingredients and efficiency! Tempering spices in oil adds an instant flavor boost. If you can help it, try not to skip this step! There are really only two key specialty spices you need for this dish, making this a great intro into Indian cooking: mustard seeds and cumin seeds. If you can’t find the rest, like asafoetida, turmeric, or even the dried red chilies, don’t stress.
Some modifications/swaps for this kadhi recipe if you’re in a bind:
- Omit the turmeric and/or asafoetida.
- If your yogurt is not sour enough, add some lemon juice after the kadhi has come to a boil.
- Use fresh green or red chilies instead of dried chillies.
- Use paprika instead of red chili powder.
- Omit the onion.
- Omit the cilantro.
Obviously, the more modifications you use, the more you will compromise on the complexity of this dish. I really use recipes as a loose guideline, so feel free to use what you’ve got at your disposal and start cooking!
- 1 cup plain yogurt (preferably a sour brand)
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 large yellow or white onion, sliced thinly
- 1 tsp salt
- 2-3 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1/2 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2-3 dried red chilies
- 1/2 tsp asafoetida (if available)
- Mix yogurt, chickpea flour, red chili powder, and turmeric in a bowl until smooth. Add one cup of water to the yogurt mixture and whisk until it is lump-free. Set this aside for now.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cover with a lid. They will begin popping. Once the popping slows slightly, open the lid (note, please be careful because the mustard seeds will still be popping; you don't want to wait for the popping to stop because then the seeds will have burnt).
- Add the cumin seeds and the sliced onions. Stir until the onions start becoming translucent. This will take a minute or two. Reduce the heat to low.
- Add the yogurt-water mixture to the pan, stirring as you pour. The mixture may separate slightly, but this is okay. It will come back together. Add three more cups of water and salt.
- Stir continuously until the soup comes to a boil, about ten minutes.
- Let the soup simmer for an additional five minutes, stirring occasionally. You should notice the soup thickening and turning a vibrant yellow.
Make the tadka
- In a separate sauce pan, add oil over medium-high heat. Once heated, add the mustard seeds and close the lid.
- Once the popping slows, switch the heat off. Then, add the cumin, asafoetida, and dried red chillies. If you prefer a slight kick, you can break one or more of the chillies in half before adding them to the oil to release the seeds.
- Pour the tadka on the kadhi. Note, tif the oil is still hot, it may splutter when it hits the kadhi. Stir to combine.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve with a bed of rice. Enjoy!