Kadhi | Yoghurt Curry

There is a secret about Indian food that is only known by a few. Indian food is not about the main ingredient – the lentils or the vegetables – it is wholly and solely about the spices. Any other ingredient is simply a carrier for the spices.

Today’s recipe is a beautiful yoghurt curry, a perfect vehicle for an array of spices.

Yoghurt Curry

UR Caffe

My little world is changing. Days are longer and lighter. Although still cold and sometimes wet, every now and then we have a warmer day, full of promise of things to come. Some blossoms are arriving, magnolias are flowering and today I saw some jasmine in bloom.  A new café opened in our street. Pre-Spring is here.

Pre-Spring 2011Pre-Spring 2011Pre-Spring 2011Pre-Spring 2011

I often think about our poorly named 4 seasons. And this week, dear Lucy posted about her troubles with our Australian seasons, so inextricably linked to the European sense of weather. Our aboriginal forefathers had many seasons, in India there are between 1 and 6 seasons depending on the region, Hawaii has many as well and people who live close to nature and the land know that 4 seasons do not adequately describe our beautiful and changing weather patterns. I even know a group of people in a part of the world who celebrate only 3 seasons. They laughingly call them A Little Wet, Wet, and Very Wet. In Tamil Nadu, I am told, the seasons are Hot, Hotter and Hottest.

I would love to think that we have 8 distinct seasons in this part of Australia. How many do you have? To my way of thinking, we have:

* Pre- Spring
* Spring
* Early Summer
* Summer
* Late Summer
* Autumn
* Early Winter
* Winter

Pre-Spring 2011

Ah yes, such a secret that nature has held close to her chest, and here in Australia, after 250’ish years of white settlement, we are only just beginning to let go of our European seasonal rules to recognise the rich diversity that our weather brings us.

Another Secret

There is another secret that I want to share with you. It’s about Indian cooking. In the approx 12 years of playing with Indian food, learning just a few of its many many intricate secrets, I discovered another just recently and it has changed the way I approach Indian food just a little. And that time period for the secret to reveal itself is about right. Nothing happens fast in India. Learning is about mastery – no secrets reveal themselves to fly-by-night indulgers in any area. Secrets only come with personal commitment, discipline and persistence. Talk to any of the master craftsmen of South India or the incredible musicians or the rigorous dancers of the traditional genres of India, and they will tell you so.

So I was musing over Indian cooking the other night and how the wonderful play of spices caress the food, thinking in my small head that it is the spices that are lifting and highlighting the characteristics of the food.

But really it is not so. There is a very subtle difference.

Indian food is not so much about the “main ingredient” whether that is a vegetable or fruit, or lentil, or mix of these. Indian food is all about the spices. Spices first and foremost. Spices in the middle, and spices at the end.

Everything else in the dish is just a carrier for the spices. Anything else in the dish is there to highlight and lift the spices, carrying them beyond their raw, lone flavour to exquisite culinary heights.

The carrier can be anything:

  • Water. Think rasams, which are basically spiced water.
  • Milk. The myriad of desserts based on milk which carry the sweeter spices so well.
  • Yoghurt. Add spices to make a magnificent curry.
  • Flour. Think Besan Curry, made from chickpea flour, spices and water.
  • Lentils. Millions of recipes where lentils or dried beans carry a range of spices to give textural bases to spices.
  • Vegetables and fruits, unripe and ripe, form solid platforms for great spice performances.

Spices can disappear into the liquids and not be seen. But they can also be stuffed into vegetables (e.g. okra, eggplant, lemons, limes), encased in pastries (samosas), squished into sauces (palak paneer), and baked into goodies (paneer tikka).

So here, for you today, is another wonderful spice dish, where the flavours are carried on silky, beautiful yoghurt. Enjoy.

Yoghurt Curry

Yoghurt Curry (Kadhi)

My first yoghurt curry was cooked by a Persian lady in Sydney for a group of us attending an Ayurvedic seminar. As we helped ourselves to rice and curry, we moved outside to sit in the sun, chatting and laughing as a group of like minded people do. Then suddenly there was silence. The absolute wonder of this curry carried us away and the only sound was sighs of great satisfaction.

I recently saw eCurry‘s wonderful yoghurt curry and had to make my own and again was reminded about how special this easy curry can be. This recipe is based on her’s, but as usual I tweak it a bit. It is a fairly standard recipe and I have included links to other posts below the recipe. What I love about eCurry’s is the double layer of spiciness that she achieves through the spiced yoghurt and then the talimpu/tadka added at the end.

I love yoghurt and this dish is a firm favourite.

Cooking with Yoghurt

Yoghurt can split when heated and although this does not alter the taste, the appearance of the dish can suffer. Here are a few tips for you to experiment with. I rarely have any trouble with yoghurt splitting.

  1. Use a thick yoghurt, ie a good Greek Yoghurt. Even then, drain it in a piece of muslin cloth for an hour.
  2. I buy my yoghurt from an Indian shop. If you have one close by, you might consider getting yours from there too. My Indian grocer sells the most silky yoghurt, already thick, from India.
  3. Whip the yoghurt a little. The addition of air seems to minimise the risk of splitting.
  4. And the best tip of all, add besan flour (gram flour, chickpea flour) to the yoghurt as you beat it. A tablespoon will do the trick. Since I started doing this, I have had little trouble cooking with yoghurt.

In the South of India it is more common to stablise the yoghurt with rice flour and ground coconut. I am in the process of testing a recipe from one of the foremost South Indian cooks. Watch out for it in the coming weeks.

Good luck!

Yoghurt Curry

Yoghurt Curry: Kadhi

Source : inspired by my Persian friend who grew up in India, and eCurry
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: a few mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it

1.5 cup yoghurt
2.5 cups water
1.5 – 2 Tblspn besan flour (gram flour, chickpea flour)
1/2 Tblspn ghee
0.25 tspn asafoetida powder
0.5 tspn turmeric
0.25 tspn fenugreek seeds
1 large tspn cumin seeds
2 green chillies
1 tspn ginger, chopped
12 curry leaves
1 tspn jaggery (or brown sugar)
salt to taste

for tadka
1 Tblspn ghee
1 tspn black mustard seeds
0.5 tspn urad dal
1 dried red chilli
6 curry leaves

0.5 tspn smoked paprika (I love the addition of this, it is an act of genius!)
green coriander

Firstly, we need to make a paste from the green chillies and ginger. Either chop them finely then use a mortar and pestle to render them into a rough paste, or through them into a processor with a small bowl attachment.

Then take the yoghurt, add the jaggery, turmeric and the besan flour, and beat for a few moments until there are no lumps and the yoghurt is slightly aerated. Slowly beat in the water until all is combined.

Heat the ghee in a pan and add the and add the asafoetida, cumin and fenugreek. Add the curry leaves at the end and allow to sizzle for a moment or two.

Add the chilli-ginger paste, stir, and then gradually add the yoghurt mixture, stirring as you add. Simmer and keep stirring for 10 minutes. Remove it from the heat and add salt to taste.

Now make the tadka. In another pan, heat the tadka ghee. Add the mustard seeds and allow to pop. As it settles, add the urad dal, wait one moment and add the chilli, one more moment and then add the curry leaves.

When the sizzle of the curry leaves dies down, pour the tadka over the yoghurt curry, sprinkle with the smoked paprika and with chopped green coriander. Serve and enjoy!

You can serve with rice, or even enjoy it as a soup.

Yoghurt Curry

Other Yoghurt Curries you Might Enjoy

The Yoghurt Series


Author: Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.

29 thoughts on “Kadhi | Yoghurt Curry”

    1. Thank you for your beautiful comment. I am also glad to have found you. What a great site you have, full of innovative recipes, a passion for food, beautiful pics and totally vegetarian! I love it.


  1. Just the refreshing look of that curry is enough to satisfy, tasting it might open many other doors.

    Ganga, we can add traditional Indina Ayurvedic medicine to the list which requires persistence and time. In TamilNadu where I come from we have hot., hotter and hottest as the 3 seasons :)

    One more technique my grandmom and mom follow is to cook all the spices first, lower the heat so the boiling stops and then add the buttermilk all the while whisking to prevent breaking.


    1. Hi isg, thanks for your kind comment. I agree about Ayurveda, both from a practictioner and from a patient viewpoint. How interesting all of the techniques are for cooking with yoghurt. I love yoghurt in food. It is both healthy AND tasty. :)


  2. Ganga, that’s one beautiful post. I love curds in all form, esp love eating it best in its natural form..though making a curry is always a wonderful way to use it differently..So nice to know about the different seasons you have. Though we have those 3 seasons in Madras most times, I am happy to say we are enjoying a very cool climate for the last couple of weeks..:)


    1. It’s so nice just mixed with salt and cumin, maybe black pepper, isnt it. Thank you for your lovely words, Srivalli. Aaah you are having your 4th season, even if just for a few days. :)


  3. Thank you for giving it a try :) and i like the urad dal in the temper as it will add a nice bit of crunch .. will have to try it next time, as I prefer this plain Kadhi rather than the one with pakoras. and I buy my yogurt from whole food here. and i like using greek yogurt too.. naturally thick :)


  4. As far as I know there is only one season in Chennai. It is always hot. Though I used to crib about it now I miss the heat. Living in a place where I can enjoy 4 different season has made me miss chennai more. I can’t take this cold really.
    I had punjabi kadhi for my lunch today. Yogurt based curries are the best.


  5. I totally agree with your season category :) Soma’s blog is filled with delicious recipe and yogurt curry is one of my fav . I am waiting for the cold season to start so that i am enjoy my yogurt curry once again.


  6. Love this Ganga! We call this genre “Kadi,” and it was always a treat to have this. I particularly loved just taking this in a cup and sipping it hot. Yumm!

    With M in Mumbai, I must follow your recipe and make it myself.
    Enjoy Spring!


Welcome! I hope you are enjoying what you see here. Thank you so much for your comment and your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s