Kadhi Recipe | Punjabi Kadhi Pakora


A Kadhi recipe that is a family heirloom recipe and tastes super delicious. This fabulous Kadhi Pakora is my mother-in-law’s treasured recipe of making the traditional Punjabi Kadhi with onion pakora. Here the crispy onion fritters are dunked in a spiced, savory, tangy yogurt sauce. A recipe she has been making for ages and loved by all of us.

kadhi topped with pakora and coriander leaves served in a white bowl

About Kadhi Recipe

The Hindi word “Kadhi” denotes a yogurt sauce that has been slow-cooked for quite some time. The word “pakora” means fritters made from gram flour (besan). In this recipe, the fritters are made with savory, spiced batter made with onions, gram flour and seasonings.

There are many variations of making kadhi in North and Western Indian cuisines. Even though the spices or herbs added are different, but the yogurt sauce is mostly thickened with gram flour (called besan in Hindi).

Gram flour is made from skinned black chickpeas and has a nutty flavor. The curd that is used to make kadhi is sour curd. As a result, this dish has a sour, spiced and creamy taste.

You will find that each state and region have their own ways of making dahi besan kadhi. So we have Maharashtrian Kadhi, Rajasthani Kadhi, Gujarati Kadhi, Sindhi Kadhi and so on.

The Punjabi Kadhi is different from the other regional variations of kadhi. It is thicker and creamier than other variations which have a slightly thinner consistency. The herbs and spices used in the recipe are also different. The onion pakora offers a lot of texture and balances the creaminess of the yogurt sauce.

I often make Kadhi pakora, but I just could not manage to take step-by-step photos and that is why it took me so long to share this delicious Punjabi kadhi recipe.

We love kadhi, be it with or without pakora. When we serve Punjabi kadhi pakora with steamed rice or jeera rice, we call it kadhi chawal – where chawal is the Hindi word for rice. 

You can also have kadhi with roti but we prefer to have it with rice. Kadhi Chawal and Rajma Chawal are a staple and much-loved food in Punjabi homes.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Kadhi Pakora

This is again one of those recipe posts, where there are maximum pictures. Since I am presenting a step-by-step photo guide, I will first begin with making the curd slurry, then making the onion pakora and then finally with the making of the kadhi pakora.

Making curd slurry

1. In a bowl take 1.5 cups sour curd or about 375 grams of curd. Whisk it well till smooth.

whisking curd

2. Add 8 tablespoons of gram flour (besan), ½ teaspoon red chilli powder, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon garam masala powder and 1 teaspoon salt to the whisked curd.

added gran flour, spice powders and salt to make kadhi

3. Stir and mix everything again.

curd mixture being mixed with wired whisk

4. Add 3 cups water and stir again.

water being mixed

5. Stir very well to make a smooth mixture without lumps. If there are lumps, then break them with a wired whisk or a spatula or with your fingers. Set the curd slurry aside.

You can use a blender to make this mixture, but make sure you don’t over do it. You will get butter instead of a smooth blended curd.

curd mixture ready for punjabi kadhi

Making pakora for kadhi

1. Take 1 cup gram flour (besan) in a bowl and add the following ingredients:

  • ½ teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds)
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • ⅔ teaspoon salt or as required
gram flour, salt, carom seeds and spice powders in a steel bowl

2. Add 1 cup thinly sliced onions. About 2 medium to large onions, sliced, approx 150 grams of onions.

sliced onions added for kadhi pakora recipe

3. Mix everything well and keep aside covered for 30 minutes.

onions mixed

4. This will allow the onions to release their water in the mixture. Depending on the water content in the onions, the mixture will become very moist or just about moist. Here’s a photo of the onions after 30 minutes. Mix again.

pakora batter after 30 minutes

4. Then accordingly add water as required to make a thick batter. I added ¼ cup water. You can also skip adding water if the mixture is too moist.

pakora batter ready to make kadhi pakora recipe

6. Heat oil for deep frying in a pan or kadai. You can use any neutral-flavored oil with a high smoking temperature or mustard oil.

When the oil becomes medium hot, with a spoon drop the pakora batter in the oil.

frying pakora in hot oil in a kadai (Indian wok)

7. When the pakora are partly cooked, then turn over with a slotted spoon and continue to fry the other side.

frying pakora for kadhi pakora recipe

8. Fry till the pakora are crisp and golden turning over a couple of times for even cooking.

pakora are crisp and golden to make punjabi kadhi pakora

9. Remove the fried pakora and place them on a kitchen paper towel so that extra oil is absorbed. Fry the pakora in batches this way. When done keep all of them aside.

pakora placed on kitchen paper towels for kadhi pakora

Making Kadhi Recipe

1. In another pan or kadai, heat 2 tablespoons of mustard oil. Make sure to use a large bottomed pot so that while cooking, the kadhi does not spill.

If you don’t have mustard oil, feel free to use any neutral-flavored oil. But the traditional Punjabi kadhi has mustard oil.

heating mustard oil

2. Add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 8 to 10 fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) and a generous pinch of asafoetida (hing).

Allow the cumin seeds to crackle and the fenugreek seeds to change their color. Fry on a low flame, so that these spices do not get burnt.

spices spluttering in oil

3. Add ⅓ cup chopped onions. Stir and saute for 3 minutes on low to medium-low heat.

chopped onions added

4. Then add 1 tablespoon chopped ginger, ¾ to 1 tablespoon chopped garlic and 2 green chillies, chopped. Stir and sauté for a minute.

chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies added

5. Now add 8 to 10 curry leaves, 2 dry red chilies (halved or broken).

curry leaves and dried red chillies added

6. Stir and sauté for a minute on a low heat.

sautéing onions and spices

7. Then add the curd slurry.

curd slurry added

8. Stir very well.

curd slurry mixed evenly

9. Increase the flame to medium and bring the kadhi to a boil. Keep on stirring often so that the bottom does not get browned. Time taken to cook kadhi will be around 14 to 16 minutes.

cooking kadhi to make punjabi kadhi pakoda

10. After it comes to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer it for a further 6 to 7 minutes. Do stir at times. The kadhi will thicken. If it becomes too thick, then add some hot water.

kadhi is simmering

11. In the below photo, the kadhi is ready.

punjabi kadhi is ready

Making kadhi pakora

12. Now add the onion pakora to the kadhi. Stir gently.

onion pakora added to kadhi to make kadhi pakora

13. Cover with a lid and let the onion pakora be soaked in it for 8 to 10 minutes.

kadhi pakora in the pan covered with a glass lid

14. Lastly, sprinkle some garam masala powder on the Punjabi Kadhi.

garam masala powder sprinkled on kadhi recipe

15. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve Punjabi Kadhi Pakora hot with steamed rice or jeera rice, topped with few teaspoonfuls of ghee.

You could also serve with roti or paratha. However, the combination of Kadhi Chawal (kadhi served with steamed rice) is very popular and tastes very good.

kadhi pakora served over a bed of steamed rice on a white plate with a spoon on the rice

Tips

Expert Tips

  • Curd (yogurt): Use full fat sour curd or sour yogurt made from whole milk. If the curd is not sour, then the kadhi will not be sour, but will still taste good. To make the curd sour, keep the set curd for a few hours at room temperature. Another way is to add ½ to 1 teaspoon amchur powder (dry mango powder) or a bit of lemon juice to the dish once its cooked.
  • Fats: Use mustard oil if possible to fry the onion pakora and for tempering. Mustard oil lends a pungent sharp taste and flavor to the kadhi. If you do not have mustard oil, then use a neutral oil like sunflower oil.
  • Baking Pakora: You could also bake the pakora instead of deep frying them. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius until the pakora are crisp and golden. For baking pakora add 1 to 2 tablespoons oil in the batter and do not make the batter very moist but keep it a bit wet. 
  • Curry leaves: Don’t skip on curry leaves, as you will know that something is missing from the kadhi pakora recipe. But if they are not available to you then omit adding them.
  • Besan: Use good quality gram flour (besan). In a pinch you could also use chickpea flour.
  • Prep work: The onion pakora can be prepared earlier and set aside.
  • Cooking kadhi: Use a large bottomed pot for making the kadhi pakora recipe. The kadhi froths while cooking, thus can overflow and spill if you use a small pot.
  • Pakora texture: To make softer pakora, add some more water than mentioned in the recipe below. In this case, add the pakora to the kadhi, just before serving. If added much before serving, then the pakora become too soft and mushy.

    Some folks do not like the mushy and soft pakora in the Punjabi kadhi. In this case the pakora can be a little hard. Add little or no water to the batter.

    In this recipe I have not made the pakora soft. Just added enough water to make the batter smooth but not runny. Thus you could well add the pakora just after the kadhi is ready. The pakora won’t break when the kadhi is served later.

More Awesome Punjabi Recipes!

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Kadhi is a popular North Indian dish of onion fritters dunked in a spiced yogurt sauce. Also known as Kadhi Pakora this dish is best relished with steamed rice.

Prep Time 40 mins

Cook Time 30 mins

Total Time 1 hr 10 mins



Servings 5

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This Kadhi Recipe post from the blog archives (first published in January 2012) has been updated and republished on 5 July 2021.



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