Any recipe that has the word ‘deconstructed’ in it conjures up images of broken tart shells and food that has been meticulously and painstakingly cooked and then taken apart, or that’s been cooked as separate elements and then put together. I get it, and I’ve even tasted some dishes made in this manner that were downright delicious. But generally speaking, it’s all too shi-shi for my taste. Just putting it out there that I’m not trying to replicate this methodology in any way, shape or form here. I figured that making them this way would mean less oil (you’d typically fry them) and also give me one less thing to stand around the stove for. As a firm believer in optimizing my time and energy in the kitchen, bunging things into the oven is my pro move.

I had to think about this one – ‘deconstructed’ or ‘unconstructed’? Deconstructed would mean that they were first formed and then broken up; not what happens here. These are unconstructed in that you don’t even form the pakoras into their little mounds in the first place. The ‘pakoras’ here are basically just scraggly bits of onion coated with gram flour and spices and baked on a tray. Once baked until golden, they are cooled for a bit (don’t rush this part – when you take them out of the oven, still hot, they’ll look golden but also be a bit soggy to the touch. When they start to cool down is when they’ll crisp up). They are then broken up into uneven chunks and stirred into the kadhi. Which in my opinion is even better than a regular fried pakora because more crispy bits! And also more texture.

The ground spices that go into the kadhi mixture you’ll probably have around if you cook basic Indian food at home. The tempering uses whole spices: mustard, cumin, fenugreek and also asafoetida. If you don’t have access to these, use what you have and it’ll still taste great. The main flavour comes from the sourness of the yogurt and the ground spices anyway so you’re good.

KADHI WITH 'UNCONSTRUCTED' PAKORAS

Servings: 2 people

Ingredients

For the kadhi:

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • ¼ cup gram flour (also called chickpea flour)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • ¾ tsp chilli powder
  • ¾ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • tsp asafoetida
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ in. piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp oil
  • coriander leaves, chopped
  • Salt, to taste

For the ‘unconstructed’ pakoras:

  • 1 large onion, sliced into thin slivers
  • 2 tbsp gram flour
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 180 C.
  • Pakora: add all the ingredients listed above to a bowl. Pour in 1 tbsp of water and squeeze the onions and spices together with your fingers. You’re trying to get a thick batter consistency that coats the onions. Add more water if needed.
  • Once you get the right consistency, add the oil and toss again.
  • Place the onions on a baking tray and cook for 30 - 40 mins or until golden brown. Once cooked, cool for 10 mins, then break them up into uneven chunks.
  • Kadhi: Add yogurt, gram flour, chilli powder, turmeric powder, sugar and salt to a bowl and combine with 1 ¼ cups of water. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, dried chillies, asafoetida, and curry leaves. (Make sure not to burn the spices.)
  • Quickly add in the chopped onions. Sauté until they start to brown around the edges, about 4-5 mins. Add minced ginger and garlic and stir for a few seconds.
  • Pour in the spiced yogurt mixture into the pot. Stir frequently until it starts to thicken slightly, about 5-7 mins. Add more water if it gets too thick. You want the consistency of double cream.
  • Stir the pakora pieces and chopped coriander into the kadhi. Check for seasoning. Serve over hot rice.

Notes

I used homemade yogurt for this recipe. Depending on how thick or how watery your yogurt is, you might need to add more or less water respectively.

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