I am finally sharing a recipe for kadhi pakora on the blog! And guess what? You can make both the kadhi AND the pakoras in an instant pot!
There’s no need to stand around stirring and staring as a pot of kadhi simmers away. What used to take over an hour on the stovetop now takes just ten(-ish) minutes in an instant pot.
There are many different regional variations of kadhi. I’m sharing a recipe for creamy Punjabi kadhi which is made with besan (Indian chickpea flour) and yogurt. Punjabi kadhi usually also calls for pakoras which are flavorful fried fritters that you serve in the creamy sauce. The whole thing is topped with a colorful spiced tadka, also known as tempering, which is basically ghee infused with spices.
When you eat kadhi, each spoonful should have some creamy sauce, soft textured pakora, and crisp toasty cumin seeds and mustard seeds. There should be a lot of flavor and texture in each bite.
The red tadka that you see drizzled kinda haphazardly on top of the kadhi does have a touch of South Indian flavor to it. I’m married to a South Indian guy and I happen to love the flavor of curry leaves and mustard seeds, so I like putting those two ingredients in the tadka. Highly recommend.
So, there is something you need to know about this particular kadhi recipe. In order to make it so that it tastes absolutely amazing, you really need to make all three parts: kadhi, pakoras, tadka. If you do not have all three of these things, the kadhi will be lacking in my opinion (I guess I probably don’t need to say that since everything on this blog is my opinion?). The kadhi (sauce) is a really simple recipe and so it needs the flavor bombs that are the pakoras and tadka.
Make and Fry Pakoras in the Instant Pot?!
Frying pakoras can be messy. Oil splatters everywhere. It’s a whole thing, right?
I fry pakoras in my instant pot using a limited amount of oil (see recipe card) on the sauté setting. I prefer to fry this way because the pot is pretty deep and so there’s less chance of oil splattering on me or my stovetop/countertop. I obviously keep leave the lid off when frying, and I never leave the pot unattended.
Just so you are aware, instant pot (the company) says you’re not supposed to fry things in an instant pot. If you are more comfortable frying pakoras on the stovetop, please feel free to do that.
How and Why to Make Pakoras:
These spinach and onion pakoras add a lot of flavor to the kadhi. They call for a few spices, but it’s the ajwain (also known as carom seeds) that make these pakoras, in my opinion (ah, there I go again). It’s a spice you can’t omit. If you’ve never had ajwain before, it tastes kind of like thyme but like, really intense thyme.
To make the pakoras, first, we need to make the batter.
This pakora batter has onions, spinach, yogurt, and spices. Mix it all up – it should look like this:
Then heat some oil (I tell you exactly how much oil is in the recipe card below), and once the oil is hot, fry some fritters!
Set the pakoras on a paper-towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil. And let’s try our best not to eat them because even though they look (and are) delicious… it’s very important that we save our pakoras for the kadhi.
Okay, fine. Go on and eat just one – hurry, no one’s looking… 😜
How to Make Kadhi in Advance:
If you’d like to make this for guests or prepare this kadhi in advance, you can make the pakoras a day before you plan to serve this. Add the pakoras to the kadhi about an hour or so before you plan to serve it. That way, they still stay fresh and have a bit of time to absorb some of the kadhi.
You can also make the kadhi a day in advance, you may need to thin it out though as it will thicken a bit overnight.
I hope you love this recipe! You can serve it with plain basmati rice (kadhi chawal, my preference) or with roti.
To Make Pakoras:
- Combine all of the ingredients listed under pakora (except for the oil) together in a bowl and mix well.
- If using the instant pot to make pakoras, press sauté and adjust the heat to the highest setting. Add 1 ½ cups of oil to the pot and wait 6-7 minutes for the oil to heat up. Drop a small amount of the pakora batter into the oil, if it begins to sizzle that means the oil is ready to use for frying. If not, wait a few more minutes and repeat.
- Carefully drop spoonfuls of batter into the oil (you can make around 6-7 pakoras at a time depending on size), wait for 3-4 minutes or until slightly firm and golden, then flip the pakora and wait another minute to cook the other side. Place the cooked pakoras on a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat until batter is done.
- Discard oil and set the pakoras aside while you make the kadhi.
To Make Kadhi:
- Combine the yogurt, besan and spices together in a bowl and whisk the ingredients together, then add water and mix well. Set the bowl aside for now.
- Press sauté, add ghee to the pot and once it melts, add ginger, garlic, hing and stir-fry for a minute, then pour the kadhi mixture into the pot and mix well.
- Secure lid, close pressure valve and cook for 10 minutes at high pressure.
- Quick release pressure.
- Press sauté, add kasoori methi and pakoras. Cook for a minute or until the pakoras are heated through. The pakoras will absorb some of the liquid in the pot and the kadhi will continue to thicken a bit as it rests.
- Pour into a serving bowl and top with tadka (see below).
To Make Tadka:
- Add ghee to a small pot or pan on the stove and once the ghee is hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds. When the cumin seeds turn brown, add the green chilies and curry leaves and stir for a minute then add paprika. Pour this on top of the kadhi pakora dish prior to serving.