Karhi is a Pakistani vegetarian dish consisting of a sour yoghurt & chickpea flour/besan base with pakora’s or vegetable fritters.
Servings: 6 people
For Pakora’s/Vegetable Fritters:
Place garlic, onion, yoghurt, besan (chickpea flour) and spices with 2 cup water in a blender. Blend till smooth.
Pour into large pot and add double the amount of water of the mixture (approximately 2 litres in total). Bring it to a boil on medium high heat and then cook on low flame for 1 - 1 ½ hours till it reaches reach desired consistency. Set aside.
Take a plastic bowl and add chickpea flour/besan. Add water to make a medium thick paste. Add onions, green chili, coriander and spices, baking powder or baking soda and mix. Set aside for thirty minutes.
Heat oil in karhai or wok or frying pan. Using a spoon make little balls/dumplings of the besan/chickpea flour mixture and fry on low-medium heat till golden brown. Take them out with a slotted spoon and drain on a kitchen towel.
Soak the pakoras in luke-warm water for about 10-15 minutes. Take them out, squeeze lightly and add to the karhi mixture that had been set aside earlier. Note - I have started skipping this step as the pakoras would get too soft and break apart (probably the quality of chickpea flour/besan in Australia). Test by putting one pakora in water and then add the rest.
Heat oil in a mini karhai or a small frying pan for baghar/tempering. Add sliced onions and fry till light brown. Then add white cumin seeds (sufaid zeera) till it splutters. Add whole red chili’s (sabit lal mirch) and green chili and saute for 30 – 45 seconds. Add curry leaves in the end, saute for 20 seconds and then pour over the karhi.
Serve hot with roti or rice.
Use of sour yoghurt: Pakora Karhi tastes best when it has tangy tones to it, so it's recommended to use yoghurt that is a few days old, so it's more sour than sweet. Make sure it isn't spoiled. Buttermilk or laban can also be used, and in case nothing is avaialble then a pinch of citric acid or a few drops of lemon juice can be added to give it that sour flavour.
To soak or not to soak pakoras in water: In Pakistan, I would soak the fried pakoras in water for a few minutes and then take them out squeezing out the water. This would make for soft pakoras but when I did the same thing in Australia, my pakoras became so soft that they fell apart when I added them to the karhi. So now I add them directly to the karhi and skip the soaking step. Test by adding one pakora first, and then add the rest to see if you need to soak them or not.