Comfort in a bowl - Chickpea Flour Stew with Vegetables
Never is the average Indian square meal so immaculate than as evidenced in the multifarious side dishes that lend themselves to the little mounds of fluffy, hot, white rice in the center of the plate. There are vegetables braised, boiled, sautéed, fried, roasted, and eventually dunked in the ubiquitous onion-tomato gravy, or a textured, sweetish coconutty paste, or even a yogurty base. And then there are meats, rubbed with choice spices and cooked in pungent ginger-garlic laced broths. There are coastal curries, city specialties and rustic recipes..and above all else, tastes that are often dictated by states and cultures. Here's one such dish that is exclusive to Sindhis, and relished by many. With a lovely, nutty flavor from chickpea flour in the background, this vegetable medley comes alive with the zing of tamarind and the sweetness of jaggery. Best served hot with rice.
Sindhi Kadhi - Chickpea Flour Stew with Vegetables
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed dutch oven or pot. Add the fenugreek and cumin seeds and sizzle them for seconds. Stir in the chilli powder and turmeric and then tip in the chickpea flour. Toast the flour in the oil on low heat, stirring continuously, until it turns golden and fragrant. It is important to toast the flour completely since this is what will give a well-rounded taste to the kadhi.
- Add the green chillies and salt to the pot. Now slowly whisk in the water, a little at a time, so as to avoid lumps. Once all the water has been incorporated, bring the pot to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile prepare the vegetables. Peel the potato, carrot and radish and cut into thick strips, like French fries. Trim the heads and tails of the okra. Cut the baby eggplant into quarters or 6 wedges each. Trim and cut the beans and drumsticks into 2" pieces. Chop the tomatoes.
- This step is optional and we skip this if we are in a hurry - In a small saucepan, heat a teaspoon of oil and toss the okra and eggplant on high heat for a couple of minutes.
- Add the vegetables to the pot in order of the time they would take to cook. We like to add the carrots, radish, beans and cauliflower first and the drumsticks, okra, eggplant and potatoes after a few minutes.
- Once the vegetables are tender, add the tomatoes and curry leaves. Cook until the tomatoes start to break down. Stir in the tamarind extract and jaggery and simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste the kadhi. There should be a nice balance of salt, spice, sweet and sour. Adjust the seasonings if needed and then take the pot off the heat.
- Let the kadhi rest for an hour or so if possible, to allow the flavours to blend. Serve over steamed white rice in shallow cereal bowls with a side-salad and papads.
If you like, top the kadhi with a Tadka comprising hot ghee, a pinch of red chilli powder and perhaps a few curry leaves.