Fritters in Yogurt Based Curry / Pakoray Wali Karhi, & Fool-Proof Basmati Rice

Pakoray wali Karhi, Fritters in a yogurt-based curry, is a hit in our home.  It is one of my husband’s favorite foods, and I make it 2 to 3 times every month.  It’s a wonderful vegetarian meal to have, and it satisfies like no other.  Karhi, the yogurt based curry, is made a variety of ways throughout the Asian subcontinent, and the recipe I am sharing today is one that is specific to my husband’s side of the family.  I grew up eating Karhi that was a lighter yellow in color, almost a neon yellow, and without fritters.  With fritters or without, Karhi is Desi comfort food at it’s best 🙂

A few weeks ago someone left a comment asking me to give some tips on cooking rice.  Well I’m not an expert, and I always seem to have an issue with cooking rice with a measured amount of water, so I’ve outlined the fool-proof way of cooking Basmati rice that results in long grains of rice that doesn’t clump together, and also doesn’t require measuring water.

  • Put desired amount of rice in a large bowl and wash 3 times with warm water.
  • Soak the rice in enough water so that it is totally covered.  If the rice needs to be cooked right away, soak in warm water.  If the rice needs to be cooked later, soak in cold water.
  • Allow the rice to soak until the color changes to a bright white.  We basically want to remove as much starch as possible.  Too much starch results in clumpy rice.
  • Fill a large vessel with water.  We don’t need to measure the water, we just need enough to boil the rice.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add rice and cook until the rice is about 75% done.
  • Strain the rice through a colander, and rinse quickly with cold water.  We want to rinse off any leftover starch and stop the rice from cooking further.  Too much heat + Starch = Clumpy rice.
  • Return the rice to the pot, add salt as needed, add a little bit of oil (this helps prevent the rice getting stuck to the bottom of the pot), and add a little bit of water.  The amount of water depends on how much rice you’re cooking.  You basically need enough to create a steam that would help finish cooking the rice.  For example, if I boiled 1 cup of rice, I would add approximately ¼ cup or less water.
  • Stir everything together, cover with a lid, and cook over low heat until the water had created a steam and all of it has evaporated.  The rice should be completely cooked through, but if not, add a splash of water, cover, and cook until completely done.

PakoraKarhiPic

Pakora Karhi

Yield:  4 Servings

Ingredients:

For Curry/Karhi:

  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped + ½ cup water
  • ½ cup gram flour
  • 2 cups yogurt
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste

For Fritters/Pakoray:

  • 1 ½ cups gram flour
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 6 – 8 tablespoons water, lukewarm
  • Handful cilantro, finely chopped
  • Handful mint, finely chopped
  • Oil, for frying

For Tempering/Bhagaar:

  • ½ cup oil
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 dried red chilies
  • 20 curry leaves

Directions:

Make Curry/Karhi:

Combine onions and water in a blender and pulse until smooth.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together gram flour and yogurt until thoroughly combined.  Add water, one cup at a time, and whisk until completely smooth.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a large vessel over medium-high heat.  Add two-thirds of the onion paste (reserve one-third for the fritters), turmeric, red chili powder, and ginger-garlic paste and mix well.  Cook for a few minutes, uncovered, until the oil begins to separate.

Slowly add the gram flour and yogurt mixture to the pot, stirring all the while. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until thickened. Make Fritter/Pakoray batter and set aside.  If the Karhi seems to be boiling over, uncover the pot a little to allow the steam to escape.  Once thickened to desired liking, remove from heat.

Make Fritters/Pakoray:

Combine reserved onion paste, gram flour, red chili powder, cumin seeds, baking soda, ginger-garlic paste, salt, and water and mix well to form a thick batter. The consistency should be so that it can easily run off of a spoon, yet thick enough to hold its shape when fried.  Add cilantro and mint and mix well.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat.  To test if the oil is ready, drop a little bit of the fritter batter.  The batter should begin to immediately sizzle and rise to the surface of the oil.  Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil and cook until golden brown.  Transfer fritters directly to Karhi once cooked through.

Make Tempering/Bhagaar:

Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  Add onions and garlic and fry until the edges begin to lightly brown.  Add cumin seeds, dried red chillies, and curry leaves.  Stir and fry until the onions are completely golden brown.  Pour this mixture directly into Karhi and cover.  Allow the Karhi to remain undisturbed for 15 minutes.  Stir and serve.

Sweet Lassi

Ahh, Lassi- the ever popular drink of the Indian subcontinent.  Everyone has a favorite flavor, whether it be mango, cardamom, saffron, salty, or sweet.  The recipe I’m sharing today is a bare bones recipe.  It is totally customizable.  The yogurt can be full-fat, low-fat, or non-fat.  Greek yogurt, or even flavored yogurts, can be used instead of plain yogurt.  Any type of milk can be used, and it can even be replaced with juice.  Go ahead and let your imagination run wild! 🙂

SweetLassiPic

Sweet Lassi

Yield:  1 Serving

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup yogurt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 3 – 4 teaspoons sugar
  • A few ice cubes

Directions:

Combine yogurt, milk, and sugar in the jar of a blender and pulse until the sugar has dissolved.  Pour in a glass and top with ice cubes.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

Lentil Dumplings in Yogurt Sauce/ Dahi Baray

Just like Channa Chaat, Dahi Baray are a quintessential snack/appetizer in Pakistani and Indian homes.  Dahi Baray are basically lentil based dumplings that are soaked in a spiced yogurt mixture, and are served cold.  Traditionally, lentils are soaked overnight and then pureed to form a batter the next day.

Me, using traditional methods?  Yeah right!

Why would I use a harder method when an easier one is available?  The lentils used in this recipe, Urad or black gram/matpe beans, can be found in any Indian or Pakistani grocery store in FLOUR FORM!  Therefore, we don’t need to soak n’ grind! (And less dishes to wash 😉 )

Also, this recipe produces a large number of dumplings.  What I like to do is use as many as I need and freeze the remaining.   They frozen dumplings can be quickly thawed in the microwave, and are ready to go when you need them.  I like to make a large batch especially during Ramadan, so iftar, or break-fast time, is easier and faster.

This recipe is also courtesy of my mother in-law, so it’s a guaranteed winner 😉

 

DahiBarayPic

 

 

Dahi Baray

Yield:  Varies

Ingredients:

For Lentil Fritters/ Baray:

  • 2 cups black matpe flour/ urad flour
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 green chilies, grated
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • Oil, for frying

For Yogurt Mixture/ Dahi:

  • 3 parts yogurt
  • 1 part water or milk
  • Sugar, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cumin powder, to taste
  • Red chili powder, to taste

For Garnish:

  • Chaat masala
  • Tamarind Chutney
  • Cilantro, chopped, optional
  • Onions, finely diced, optional
  • Garbanzo beans, optional

Directions:

Make Lentil Fritters/ Baray:

Combine all of the ingredients for the Baray in a large bowl and mix until smooth.  Cover and let it stand for no more than 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a large vessel over medium-high heat.  To check the temperature of the oil, drop a small amount of batter into the oil.  If the oil starts bubbling and the batter starts making its way upward, the temperature is perfect. Stir the Baray batter, and use a tablespoon to drop spoonfuls of batter into the oil.  Cook until the Baray are golden on both sides.  Transfer to a paper-towel lined tray.  Cool slightly. (Note:  Once cooled completely, Baray can be frozen at this point.  To use, just microwave however many that are needed until they are no longer frozen, and continue with the remaining directions.)

Fill a large bowl with lukewarm water.  Transfer the Baray to the water and allow them to soak for a few minutes.  Squeeze the water out of the Baray using the palms of both hands, and arrange them in a serving dish.

Make Yogurt Mixture/Dahi:

Depending on how many Baray are being used, combine yogurt and water (or milk) in a large bowl and mix until smooth.  Add sugar, salt cumin powder, and red chili powder as desired and mix well.  Pour over Baray and allow them to soak, refrigerated, for at least one hour before serving.

Serve with garnish.  Refrigerate leftovers.