KaDhi is a traditional Indian dish made across various parts of India. Each region has its own way of making it - Gujarathi, Rajasthani, Punjabi, Maharashtrian - we have all had and savoured various versions. KaDHi is supposed to be the quintessential 'brahmin' dish in Maharashtra. It is supposed that those learned men of yore ate KaDhi with rice everyday, and many a brahmin kid (self included) has been at the butt of 'KaDhi' jokes. The Kadhi in Maharashtra is supposed to be of a thin and watery consistency as opposed to that in other parts such as Madhya Pradesh etc.
In our family, Kadhi is traditionally made from sour buttermilk, the one that is left over after churning butter. I remember many a lazy afternoon when a pot of kadhi would be bubbling away on a stove on rainy afternoons, inviting one and all with its typical aroma. With the times changing, I no longer heat a pot of milk everyday, so I don't skim off the cream to save it in a jar, so there is no homemade butter across the Atlantic, hence no fresh buttermilk. Not that its impossible, but with our hectic schedules, it is just something that we have stopped doing. So coming to the point, since we always have Dahi or curd available in a jar from the supermarket, this is the best go to dish you can have when you are in a hurry, too tired to cook and long for something that reminds you of home.
Every region has a peculiar recipe. The Gujarathi kadhi is usually thick and sweet. The rajasthani kadhi has a lot of unusual spices such as cloves and pepper and ber ( a kind of gooseberry). The punjabi kadhi is very spicy with almost equal amounts of dahi and besan. The version I have today is my own concoction. It takes a little bit from the different
things I like in various different recipes. The result is spicy, tangy, sweet and extremely slurrrrpy. I generally try to use the desi dahi brand you get in Indian stores since that has a sour taste. If not available, any fat free yogurt is a good option. I have found that for any super market brand, be it Dannon or Stonyfield or Kroger etc., the fat free yogurt is always more sour compared to the full fat or low fat version. I have no idea of the mechanics behind this.
The recipe is as follows -
Sour Curd (plain yogurt) - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups
Besan or chick pea flour - 2 Tbsp
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 green chilli - 3 or 4 pieces
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp oil or ghee
4-5 fresh curry leaves
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro or dhania
Asfoetida/turmeric - pinch for tempering
salt and sugar to taste
In a sauce pan, mix together the curd/yogurt, water and chick pea flour and whisk to form a smooth mixture. Make sure that there are no lumps. Add the grated ginger and the green chilli. Bring this mixture to a boil and then simmer for 12-15 minutes till it thickens. There should be no floury taste remaining. Add salt and sugar to taste to get the desired sweetness and desired balance of sweet and sour. This will vary according to individual tastes. In a small kadai or vessel, heat the oil or ghee ( traditional), and add cumin seeds, cloves, curry leaves, a pinch of turmeric and hing or Asfoetida. Add this to the mixture in the pan. Mix together and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes for the flavours to blend or until ready to eat.
This can be served hot with steamed rice, or just slurped away on its own. A healthy, nutritious and low cal delicacy, ready in the time your rice cooks. I hope you enjoy this simple Indian dish that is a household favourite.