Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"Karhi" Indian Yogurt Soup: Recipe

Karhi is an Indian dish made from spiced yogurt, usually served with rice. It's not often seen here, either in Indian restaurants or on American tables... And that's a shame. It's inexpensive, simple to make, nutritious and, most importantly, very delicious.

Kahris really run the gamut, from tangy to sweet, from a thick, almost pudding-like consistency to creamy soup, depending on the whim of the chef, and more importantly, the regional style.

My personal favorite is a spicy, tangy soup, which is what I've offered in this recipe. The recipe calls for chickpea flour which is available at Indian--and sometimes Middle Eastern--groceries.

The recipe is 100 percent vegetarian. A comparable vegan version might be possible with soy yogurt, but I have never tried it. (If anyone gives it a shot, let me know how it comes out!)

Creamy Yogurt Karhi

5 tablespoons chickpea flour, sifted
2 3/4 cups water
2 cups high-quality organic plain yogurt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
pinch ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
6-8 curry leaves
2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander
3 Tbsp ghee, butter or oil
1/2 Tbsp cumin seeds
1-2 tsp crushed dried red chili flakes or to taste
Salt to taste

1. Put the sifted chickpea flour in a large bowl. Whisk in the water until the flour is totally dissolved.

2. Now whisk in the yogurt, and then pour the mixture in to a soup pot. Add the cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, turmeric, curry leaves and half the coriander.

4. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. In a frying pan, heat the butter, ghee or oil over medium heat. When it's hot add the red pepper and cumin seeds and fry until the seeds are brown. Stir into the soup.

6. Salt the soup to taste and add the remaining coriander, reserving a pinch to sprinkle on top of each serving.

7. At this point some chefs "mix it up" with whatever they have on hand.. stirring into the soup a little kofta (spicy fried dumplings of chickpea flour or vegetables); sauteed vegetables; bean sprouts; roasted root vegetables. But I think it's great on its own, simply ladled over fresh Basmati rice.

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