Karri is loved in almost every household in Pakistan. But the cooking procedure can intimidate even the seasoned and skilled cooks. I learnt it while watching my mother cook it in her kitchen. But my love for Karri goes back to my barri ammi’s (Maternal Grandmother) cooking skill and generosity. In her house the rule was simple. Karri was never cooked in medium or moderate quantity. It was always cooked as if 30 people are coming over for dinner. Bari Ammi would send a bowl each to all her friends and relatives living close by. Hence her Karri was not just loved because it was delicious but because she would remember everyone around her while making karri. It is strange how such insignificant observations shape a young mind. What it did to me was that till date I have never cooked karri for myself alone. My Karri always has share for my friends. So cooking Karri is more like a religious ritual to me than cooking a slightly procedure intensive food.
This recipe was a challenge for me to compile as I am used to of cooking Karri in larger quantities. It took a bit of work to scale it down. Karri is a very simple dish to make. It has two layers of cooking procedure. The trick is to finish making gravy first and add the pakoras later. But the cooking preparation should be done before hand so there is not a long gap between cooking the gravy and adding pakoras to it. The reason: The curry gets thicker as it cools down; you need to ensure Pakoras are added before the gravy cools down and thickens.
So here we go.
- For Gravy:
- In a blender/liquidizer pour 500 grams of yogurt, 500 ml(2 cups) of water and 1 cup of chickpea flour/baisan. Blend it. This is the mixture which will make the gravy.
- Heat oil in a cooking pot. Now add onions and let them brown.
- As the onions color add ginger garlic paste, cumin(zeera), dried red chilies.
- As soon as the ginger/garlic becomes golden, add tomato puree, salt, red chili powder and turmeric.
- Now cook till tomatoes are well done and the oil separates on the sides.
- Now add the yogurt/chickpea flour/water mixture to the cooking pot.
- Pay attention to the smell. You will smell raw chickpea flour for around 10 mins. Keep stirring all the time (this requires effort or it can burn at the bottom). The gravy needs to boil for atleast 30 mins on medium flame before the raw smell disappears.
- Add more water to it as it boils (an extra cup of water or more). The gravy’s consistency will change in to that of hot custard. It should cover the back of the spoon with a thin film.
- Now leave the gravy on the lowest flame on your stove and cover with a lid. It should stay hot and not boil or the water will disappear. Time to make pakoras...
- For Pakoras (All of us have made pakoras in our kitchens a million times. This is no different. The tricky part of the Karri is already done)
- Put a wok/frying pan on stove with plenty of oil for deep frying. The oil must be hot before the batter hits it.
- Put Chickpea flour/baisan in a bowl, add baking powder, salt, crushed red chilies, cumin (zeera) and crushed coriander seeds.
- Now slowly add water and whisk the batter. It should be thick. Be careful with the water. Put less water as the fresh onion will also make the batter liquidy.
- Once it is mixed, now add onions, green chilies, coriander, mint. Mix thoroughly.
- Make the pakoras as soon as the batter is mixed. Keep the oil really hot. If the batter is left to sit, it will become liquidy and the pakoras will become flat.
- Spoon the mixture in hot oil one by one and make them golden brown on both sides.
- Remove from oil and drain them on a kitchen paper. Now put them in the hot gravy immediately.Mix and cover.
- Fry the next batch of pakoras and add to the gravy.
- Usually I find myself making a 2nd round of batter for pakoras as the company around me eats half the pakoras before i can be put them in the gravy. If you find your self in a similar situation just make another batch of chickpea flour batter and fry some more pakoras.
- Leave the pakoras in the gravy for 15-20 mins before dishing karri out. The pakoras will absorb the liquid from the gravy and will become soft. Dish it in a large bowl and do a tarka with onions, zeera and oil. Add fresh green chilies, mint and coriander to garnish. I love eating it with Boiled Basmati rice.
I must confess I love eating karri and rice with my hands! Enjoy the Karri!