My exposure to Sindhi food started quite early, as I had many Sindhi classmates in school. Weekend lunch invitations to their homes gave me an opportunity to have what have now become two of my favourite Sindhi dishes, Dal Pakwan and Sindhi Kadhi.
One of my classmates’ parents even invited our family over for a Sunday lunch and laid out a huge spread of authentic Sindhi food for us. My father, who is generally quite fussy about food, enjoyed it so much, particularly the Sindhi kadhi, that Aunty gladly shared her recipe with my mom. In fact they were so delighted we enjoyed the meal, that a few weeks later they sent across a huge dabba (tiffins) with more of that wonderful food.
I’m not well versed with Sindhi cuisine, even though I had early exposure to it, but I believe there are two versions of this kadhi. The one that we now have is made with tomato and besan (chickpea flour), and similar to the recipe most of even mom’s Sindhi friends seemed to follow at home. The other kadhi is made with just besan and spices. And both versions feature a lot of vegetables like gavar (cluster beans), carrots, bhindi (ladyfingers), potatoes, etc.
The kadhi recipe we follow also uses kokum (a dried, sour coastal fruit) which gives the kadhi an added sour note. The combination of tomato, roasted besan, kokum and spices all make for a hearty yet simple dish which is immensely satisfying. So it was no surprise that this kadhi become a staple on our menu at home, especially as it was easy to cook. So here’s the recipe that we have been following, with tweaks that mom has made over the years:
- 4-5 medium sized tomatoes
- 2.5 heaped tbsp besan
- 1/2 cup each of mixed vegetables like carrots, gavar (cluster beans), bhindi (ladyfingers)
- 3/4 tsp ginger paste
- 1 green chilli
- 1 tsp methi seeds (fenugreek)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- pinch of hing (asafoetida)
- 6-7 curry leaves
- 3 big pieces of kokum (dried sour fruit)
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
Chop the tomatoes roughly, and puree them with the green chilli, ginger paste, 1/2 tsp each of salt and sugar in a blender. Once the tomatoes are pureed, strain the mixture. You should have roughly 2 cups of tomato puree.
Chop the carrots into 1 inch sticks and the bhindi and gavar into 1 inch pieces. Heat 1 tbsp of oil and lightly saute the vegetables for 2 mins. Remove and keep aside in a bowl.
Heat another 2 tbsp of oil, and when hot, add the cumin & methi seeds, hing, curry leaves and dry red chilli. Stir it for 30 sec, reduce the heat and then add the besan. Roast the besan till it starts to turn a little red, but be careful not to over roast and burn the besan. Add 1/2 cup of water and using a whisk, mix the besan to form a thick paste. Using a whisk will avoid lumps from forming, as you mix it with water.
Now add the turmeric and the tomato puree. Stir to mix the besan paste and tomato puree. Now add the vegetables, kokum and another 1 cup of water. Taste and adjust the kadhi for salt. [Optional: I added 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder]
Let the kadhi come to a boil and then reduce the heat, cover the kadhi and let it simmer till the vegetables are cooked. The kokum will gradually begin to release its flavour. If the kadhi starts to get too thick, add more water and adjust for salt as needed. Once the vegetables are cooked, turn off the heat.
Tip: the ladyfingers take longer to cook than the other vegetables, so you may want to add these first and then add the other vegetables 5-7 minutes later. Personally I will omit the ladyfingers the next time I make it, since I enjoy having it with just gavar (cluster beans) and carrots .
While aloo tuk was part of that wonderful feast we had at my classmate’s home, I always wondered why it didn’t come home with the Sindhi kadhi, especially since potatoes are my dad’s favourite vegetable! I’m guessing it’s because the recipe needs the potatoes to be double-fried and mom avoided too much deep frying at home.
When I decided to make Sindhi kadhi yesterday, I thought I would attempt to make aloo tuk also. But instead of deep frying the potatoes for the first cook, I decided to to roast them. And then for the second cook, I shallow fried the pressed discs of potatoes to get them nice & crisp, before sprinkling them with the masala.
To me they tasted great! The crisp potato with the tangy-spicy masala makes these aloo tuk really tasty, I’m not sure why I waited so long to make them, but they are definitely going to be a steady presence on our menus going forward.
- 7-8 small potatoes
- Vegetable oil for roasting & frying
- 1 tsp chat masala
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp salt + extra for seasoning
Pre-heat the oven to 210℃ and line a baking tray with aluminium foil. Brush the foil with vegetable oil and keep aside.
Peel and wash the potatoes. Then cut each potato into quarters. Toss all the potato quarters with 1.5 tbsp of oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Spread the potato on the prepared baking tray and bake in the oven till they are cooked. The potatoes should be just done, not overcooked or mushy.
Let the potatoes cool for a little bit. Then take each potato quarter, place it on a chopping board or plate, and using the palm of your hand, squash the potato into a disc. Don’t press down too hard, else you will end up spreading the potato too much. Do this with all the potatoes quarters, till you have thick discs of potatoes.
Line a plate with kitchen towels. Take a medium sized frying pan and add enough vegetable oil to cover the base of the pan. Once the oil is hot, lower the heat to medium, and shallow fry the potato discs till each side is brown and crisp. You may need to do this in two batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes and let them drain on the kitchen towels.
In a small bowl, mix together the chat masala, red chilli and cumin powder and 1/4 tsp of salt. Mix well. Place the potatoes in a bowl and sprinkle 2 tsp of this masala over them. Shake the bowl to toss and coat the potatoes with the masala. If you need more masala, add another tsp.
Serve the potatoes with the Sindhi kadhi and rice. We had plain red rice for this meal, but mom would usually serve it with jeera (cumin) rice.
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