I am, like many of you, really into comfort food in this season. I like being comfortable, comforted and ‘nice’. I console and pamper myself from the elements of this season with long swaying sweaters, ear-soothing hats and blanket trousers – and oh, most definitely the secret snug of tights – and lots of them. I nestle myself in front of the open hearth of our home, lulled to sleep by the glowing of coal and watching the mesmerising crackles and pops, which snap my attention back to the rice crispies adverts from years gone by but then I’m caught craving chocolate coated cornflakes. And then my mind wanders to open city streets and the smell of roasting chestnuts, despite never enjoying the taste as a child. I think it was just the idea of a sweet nut. Toes playing with fluffy layers of rug, elbow nestled in cushion and nose under the blanket that now inhabits the sofa. Even I get a wee bit lazier in the winter, but I can’t apologise for that? Where there is a (albeit lazy) will, there is a recipe from me!
You may find yourself trying to make the weekly shop last longer-particularly those of us that can’t forget being snowed in earlier this year! You may find that when the evenings are darker and colder you just can’t bear to creep out from the wallowing warmth of indoors, for extra food supplies. You may find that you always have leftovers of the big squash, cabbages, potatoes and onions because you just don’t get through it all. Hopefully it’s not because you’ve been ordering too many take-a ways!
My recipe for Indian vegetable dumplings stewed in a gently spiced and thickened yogurt soup/curry (kadhi) hits all the magic comfort buttons, uses up leftovers and also it tastes flippin’ fantastic. It’s a simple, humble recipe. No coulis. No jus. No precision, or layering to perfect angles on plates. It just is, in all its tastiness, a hearty and delicious meal in one bowl of sunny yellows and oranges. As this recipe simmers away in the kitchen, you will find that the homely and calm aromas are capturing.
I grew up with variations of this recipe; it looks a little like vegetable sausages stewed in a sunny curry. Some people cook them with more flour than vegetables, for a firmer bite. I like mine soft and sweetened from root vegetables. Some people use millet flour to help bind the dough, but I find that a little bitter. Traditionally, I think people bind the dough with oil, but I really can’t bring myself to do that. Some people use less gravy; I like a good slathering of ginger-spiked soupiness. Some people use very traditional vegetables like bottled gourd (tastes like courgette). I like to use gourd sometimes, especially as it is so easily available in supermarkets, but more often I will use any of my root vegetable leftovers. If you are using leftovers, this recipe will taste like taste like you’ve gone to a lot of effort!
Deena’s Vegetable Dumplings Stewed in a Yogurt Soup/Curry (Kadhi)
1 cup cooked and cooled rice (that’s aproximately 1/2 cup when uncooked)
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 small/medium potato, grated
100g sweet potato, grated
125g of finely shredded cabbage
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 green chillies, minced and 1-2 green chillies chopped
1 tsp ginger minced
Gram flour; 3 tbsp for the kadhi and 1 ½ cup for the dumplings
1 cup chapatti flour
4-5 curry leaves
A handful of chopped coriander leaves
The spices ½ tsp ajwain/Carom seeds, 2 tsp cumin seeds (1 of which is toasted lightly), salt to taste, ½ tsp turmeric, pinch of asafoetida, ½ tsp mustard seeds, stick of cinnamon, 2 cloves.
- In a very big bowl, combine the cooked rice, cabbage, onion, sweet potato, potato, minced garlic, 1tsp of toasted cumin seeds, carom seeds, salt to taste, ½ tsp turmeric and the minced chillies and mix thoroughly to ensure the spices coat all of the vegetables. Don’t drain away the water from the vegetables, but allow the wetness to come through and this will help in bind the dough.
- Mix together the yogurt and the 3 tbsp of gram flour until smooth and there are no lumps
- Heat 2-3 tbsp of oil in a big, heavy bottomed and deep pan and add the asafoetida, chopped chilli (es), curry leaves, minced ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cumin seeds and mustard seeds and allow the mustard seeds to pop before adding the gram flour and yogurt mix and some salt. Add 11 cups of water and bring to a simmer on a medium heat.
- Then add the chapatti flour and 1 ½ cups of gram flour to the rice and vegetables, add 2tbsp of vegetable oil and 2tbp of water and mix thoroughly to make a dough.
- Grease your palms and make tight sausages no longer than the width of your palm and drop them into the kadhi that is simmering in the deep bottomed pan. When they are all in, simmer for approximately 20 minutes, stirring intermittently to avoid the dumplings sticking to the bottom of the pan. You will know when they are done as you wont see the grains of rice so much and the inside looks meaty, rather than floury.
- Sprinkle over the coriander leaves and serve hot!