Indian Curry/Stew

Punjabi Kadhi Pakora – Chickpea flour Fritters in a Spicy Yogurt Gravy (Glutenfree)

Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully SpicyOn those summer evenings, while we laid our folding beds in the veranda to prepare for a  sleepover under the starry sky, in the kitchen, potfuls of kadhi simmered on one of the stove tops, rice to go along with it on the other. After filling up the water koolers to the brink and in anticipation that maybe light (electricity) will come back later in the night, we waited for supper as the whole house smelled of  daintily spiced, turmeric loaded yogurt broth.

Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Depending on who cooked it, it would be sweet & tangy, thick or thin, spiced up or muted. My grandmother always divided the kadhi pot into two and added loads of sugar to one. Like many things, she was particular about the pakoras done right. Standing beside the sandstone countertop, her cotton saree tucked to the waist,she rigorously fluffed up cups of besan with water, stopping every few minutes to drop the batter into a katori filled with water, if  the batter drop rose to the surface, it was ready to fry up in the pungent smelling, hot mustard oil else more toil was needed. The pakoras came out perfect each time – gooey in the centre but retaining their shape in the warm broth. In those times, there were no stand mixers, hand beaters or french whisks but she had an out of the world devotion  to make delicious food for her family – fresh and filled with love.

Spices, Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Summers in northern parts of India are harsh, unlike the western parts, monsoon are mostly a cycle of few days of rain followed by dry spells for weeks. There were long power outages and at least once in a while the area transformers conked off, overworked. Kitchen was the last place anyone wanted to be in on such evenings. When nobody in the house was in a mood to cook, kadhi was made.It was a quick and easy dinner rescue.

Making Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Kadhi is basically a slightly sour, gluten-free yogurt based gravy which is thickened with chickpea flour. Fritters (pakoras) can be added to the broth or cut up vegetables (okra, spinach, aubergines) or sometimes it can served as it is.

These days, with a fussy, demanding little one around, I make kadhi quite more than often. It is an immensely satisfying meal. I like mine brothy, loaded with lots of cumin flavored ghee but this is optional. You can skip the garnish part from the recipe. Using pure mustard oil gives kadhi an authentic flavor, however any kind of oil can be used.

Kadhi Pakora – Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Note :- This recipe yields a soupy kadhi, if you like yours thick, just add extra 1-2 tbsp of besan.

Ingredients(Serves 2-3)

For the Pakoras 

  • 3/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Enough water to make the batter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Mustard Oil for frying (or vegetable/canola oil)

For the Kadhi 

  • 1.5 cup plain whole milk yogurt, slightly sour
  • 6 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tsp crushed kasuri methi, dried fenugreek leaves (give a great flavor but can be skipped if not available)
  • 2.5 – 3 cups water
  • 3 tbsp pure mustard oil (or ghee)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Generous pinch of hing powder
  • 1/4 tso ajwain seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (coarsely crushed)
  • 2 whole dried red chillies
  • Salt to taste

Note :- It is very important that the yogurt is sour when you make kadhi, else t will not taste good. You can leave the yogurt overnight at room temperature or inside the oven to let it sour. Garnish

  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch of hing
  • 2-3 thai green chillies , slit open, seeded if you want (optional, adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder


Making the Pakoras

In a medium bowl, mix up besan, hing and turmeric powder.Slowly start adding water and with the help of a handheld beater or whisk, whip up to make a thick batter. Once properly whipped the batter will be fluffy and pale yellow. Add more or less water as needed to make a batter similar to how thick you would make for dipping hot dogs when making corn dogs.

Meanwhile, heat sufficient oil in a wok or deep fryer.When you see ripples on the oil surface,mix the salt with the batter and drop small portions (about 1/2 tbsp or so) of it into the fryer, either with a spoon or help of your fingers.Deep fry in small batches on medium heat till pakoras are golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and set aside.

Note :- You can make pakoras as big or small as you like. Just note that these expand a little once added to the warm broth. Chopped onions, par boiled potatoes or any kind of herbs can be added to the batter for extra flavor.

Making the Kadhi

In a bowl, combine besan, yogurt,turmeric & red chilli  powder, kasuri methi (if using) salt to taste and water to make a lump free smooth mix. Let stand.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat mustard oil to smoking point.Remove from heat and let cool for around 1-2 minutes else spices will burn. Add cumin, ajwain, fenugreek and coriander seeds along with hing & whole red chillies. Return to stove top. When spices begin to splutter and you smell the aroma, add minced ginger. Let cook for 10-15 seconds.

Next,remove the pot from stove again and slowly add the besan-yogurt mixture and mix thoroughly. Return to medium heat and let the kadhi come to a boil. Dont be tempted to rush this else kadhi will curdle. Once you see the kadhi starting to bubble, turn the heat to low, add the garam masala and let the kadhi simmer for 10-15 minutes till it thickens and is rich yellow in color.Let sit till ready to serve.

When ready to serve, warm up the kadhi on medium till you see bubbles on the sides of the pot. Add the pakoras and let simmer (not boil) for about 5-8 minutes.

For Tempering

In a small saucepan, warm up the ghee and add cumin seeds to it, when they splutter, take away from the heat and add sliced green chillies.

Top up the kadhi- pakora with this cumin ghee just before serving along side rotis (flatbread) or steamed basmati rice.

34 thoughts on “Punjabi Kadhi Pakora – Chickpea flour Fritters in a Spicy Yogurt Gravy (Glutenfree)

  1. This is what I call comfort food 🙂 Ek plate kadhi chaawal! It’s really interesting to see how the recipe varies from family to family, person to person and definitely from state to state. And your description of how your grandma used to make this is so vivid and beautiful 🙂 Btw, I just saw your dad’s chicken curry photo.. and it looks gorgeous too! Waiting for that post now hehe 🙂

  2. The opening lines of your post transported me to my childhood. Kadhi Pakora used to a favorite and I used to love polishing off chilled kadhi with piping hot parathas. The contrasting temps and textures used to work so perfectly for me! Your kadhi looks done to perfection.

  3. Hi Tanvi, I am new to your space. Loved reading about your childhood summer days back in Delhi. I spent a few years in Delhi and Kadhi was our tuesday menu in hostel. I have so many memories associated with Kadhi 🙂 Cheers, Suchi

  4. Thank you for this delicious recipe. I am wild about learning as much as possible about spices and I know that I love Indian food. I would like to go to India one day as well as Singapore as I realize the international population and spices there are plentiful.

    Please tell me how you like living in Las Vegas. Are you there full time, even in the summer?

    At the moment, I am living in South Carolina but am thinking about relocating.

    My best,

    Nora J. Raum


    Date: Wed, 24 Jul 2013 06:47:29 +0000 To: [email protected]

    1. Hi Nora. I m living in Las Vegas since 2009.Its been almost 4 years and so far so good. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I dont- but thats so normal right? The summers are brutal & dry but the winters are mild as compared to rest of the USA.
      All the best about the relocation. hope everything works best for you!

  5. So that is how it is supposed to be – gooey inside but retaining the shape. This was not food that I grew up with but discovered later thanks to interesting friendships. I’ve never been able to get it quite right. But I’m sure this recipe will be a bullseye. Will report back 🙂

    1. Thanks Prriya.You are always so kind. I already indicated in my story how you want to check if besan is ready to fry so that the pakoras come out perfect . Hope you try it and let me know.

  6. Kadhi pakora is one of my favorite things in the world! I make mine slightly different but any kind of kadhi is comfort to me. We serve it with a rice pulav (apart from khichdi or just rice). I think I’m going to try post it now!

  7. My daughter’s all time fav is kadhi chawal… she can have it for all three meals…:).. I love this pakodi version… reminds me of home.. I make the thin light kadhi(like how my in laws do).. so its been ages since i bit into those awesome soft spongy pakoda kadhi! Sigh!

    1. Thanks Namrata. Welcome to the blog. Its always fun to meet new people who share the same love for food as I do. Hope to keep in touch!

  8. The kadhi looks so good and your memories are so sweet with your grandma’s saree tucked and sleeping under the stars.
    Lovely pictures as well.

  9. Tanvi, I have no idea what I was making till now but it certainly wasn’t Kadhi Pakora in the true sense. Not like this. I’ve just polished of a plate of Kadhi Pakora for lunch following your recipe. Everything melted in my mouth. Now I feel as if the heavens have opened and showered me with blessings. Life is good after eating such food. The jeera chilli ghee touch still lingers pleasantly as I write this. There is a smile on my lips. Thank you once again for a super recipe. I love your blog.

    ps: I am not a pasta lover but I made the red pepper pasta a few days ago because I had a glut of red peppers and because it was your recipe. That too was unusual and excellent.

  10. Thanks so much Priya. You are really kind. I am so happy that you liked the recipe. Thanks for letting me know. I hope that you continue to enjoy recipes from the blog 🙂

  11. Thanks Priya. Followed the recipe to the word and it was a hit ( with the pregnant wife, who’s super demanding right now )

  12. tried this….was tasty….but would like to mention about Kadhi made by our neighbour (belonged to Punjab),,,,,which tasted slightly different..the flavor and aroma was absolutely different….it was creamy yellow in color,,,and there was no evidence of any spices visible,,, but still it tasted very different,,,,,wondering if there is some secret spice recipe to give Kadhi , the typical Punjabi Kadhi flavor……kindly suggest

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