For some reason, I came home today and was craving a well known creamy tart soup called ‘kadhi’ (pronounced ‘cud-i’). It’s a common soup to many North Indian states – although each state has it’s own slightly different variety of spices, vegetables, etc. The key component of this soup is yogurt and chick peas flour. At first glance, that may sound quite bland, but with the unique combination of spices, you’ll find the soup to be flavorful, slightly tart and creamy at the same time. Typically, the yogurt that is utilized is slightly sour. The yogurt is allowed to sour by leaving it outside the refridgerator for a few hours or longer, and works better with homemade yogurt. It is this sourness that gives the soup it’s slightly tart flavor. However, there’s a simple way to adjust the tartness of the soup with or without soured yogurt – and I will explain that method below as I use it in my recipe. In addition, typically chick peas flour fried balls are made separately and added to this soup. I opted to cancel that addition and modify the recipe a bit to accomodate my healthier taste for non-fried food. I think my version came out delectable, flavorful and filling.
The soup, as I call it, is made in two steps. First, preparation of the soup base, and second, addition of the chick peas flour & yogurt mixture to the soup base.
Creamy Vegetable Soup – Indian Style
Makes enough for 4
Yogurt & Chick Peas Flour Mixture
1 cup plain yogurt (lowfat, regular or non-fat)
1/4 cup chick peas flour (also known as gram flour or ‘besan’ in hindi)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (also known as ‘methi’ seeds in hindi)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (or ‘haldi’ in hindi)
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom, crushed (called ‘elaichi’ in hindi)
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
1-2 cups water (at room temperature)
Vegetables & Other Additions
5-6 mushrooms, washed and sliced
4-5 boiled red potatoes, sliced
3 tablespoons cilantro (coriander leaves) or flat italian parsley, chopped
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt to taste
Bring a pot of water to boil. Wash 4-5 red potatoes and place them in the pot. Allow the potatoes to boil until the potatoes soften, then remove from heat and set aside.
Chick peas flour can be found at any local Indian store as it is a very common ingredient in Indian cooking. It can be found in the flour or grain aisle and may be labelled ‘besan’ or ‘gram flour’. The flour is made from pulverized chick peas and has a very light cream or light yellow color. Any type of plain yogurt – low fat, non-fat or regular – can be used in this recipe. Whisk the yogurt in a bowl until it has a smooth consistency – this should only take 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the yogurt to a bowl containing the 1/4 cup chick peas flour, whisking the yogurt into the chick peas flour as you go. If you add the yogurt in small steps, then the mixture will not become lumpy. It is important to whisk it to a uniform consistency to be sure it does not have any lumps. Set this mixture aside.
Turn the stove burner onto a medium heat setting. In a stock pot, add the canola oil. Watch the oil. After a few minutes, toss one mustard seed into the oil – the oil is hot enough if the mustard seed starts to sizzle almost immediately. If the mustard seed doesn’t sizzle, then increase the heat slightly and wait a few seconds. Repeat this until you’ve confirmed it’s hot enough, then add in all the mustard seeds (black seeds on the lower left side of the picture) and the fenugreek seeds (yellow seeds on upper left side of picture) at once. Within seconds the mustard seeds will begin to pop so you may need to use a splatter guard and you also may need to reduce the heat slightly to ensure you don’t burn the mustard seeds. Because of their small size, they will cook very quickly. Give the mustard seeds about 5 seconds to pop. Then add in the bay leaves, the cloves, the cardamom (taken out of the green shell as shown at the very top of the spices picture, then crushed), the red chili flakes, the turmeric and the onions. Mix them all together with a wooden spoon and lower the heat if necessary to allow the onions to cook without burning. The onions will take about 5-10 minutes to cook depending on how fine the onions were chopped. Once the onions are cooked, you have the option of adding mushrooms at this particular moment. In fact, you could add many other types of vegetables at this point. The vegetables must either cook through within 5-10 minutes or be pre-cooked. If you do not like biting into cloves (most people don’t), this is the perfect time to remove the cloves from the mixture before continuing to the next step.
Add a pinch of salt to the stock pot. Once the mushrooms cook down, add the yogurt mixture to the stock pot. Add 1 cup of water. Add the boiled potatoes, cut into 1/2″ pieces. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, stirring regularly. Add more 1/2 – 1 cup water if the mixture starts to thicken further and allow the soup to come to a boil again. The soup should cook within 3-5 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the soup turns a brighter yellow (the turmeric mixes with the rest of the soup). The mixture will continue to thicken as it cools, which is why you should only add salt sparingly – adjust the salt at the very end. Turn off the burner and transfer the mix to a serving dish or container. Then add the lemon juice one teaspoon at a time to add a bit of tartness. Taste the soup after mixing in each teaspoon and stop adding lemon juice once the soup is tangy. Typically, if I used yogurt that was not sour, I would add all 3 teaspoons of lemon juice. Add in the chopped cilantro or parsley. Cilantro is more typical. Parsley gives the soup a slight peppery taste without the pepper. If the soup becomes too creamy or too thick, simply add small amounts of boiling water and incorporate the water. This soup tastes best warm and goes well on it’s own or with long grain rice.