This classic Punjabi-style Kadhi Pakora is easy-to-make yet tastes 100% authentic. This no-fail recipe uses accessible ingredients and a fuss-free method yet remains true to the traditional Pakistani and North Indian flavors. Instant Pot and Stovetop Instructions included!
What is Kadhi Pakora?
Kadhi, or karhi, is a yogurt-based curry popular in various forms throughout the Indian subcontinent. In the Punjabi version, chickpea fritters (pakoras) are doused in a hearty yogurt-based gravy and topped with a spice-infused tadka, or tempering.
What Makes a Good Kadhi
Growing up, I didn’t like kadhi much. My husband would tell me it’s one of his favorite dishes. And I remained perplexed until the day I came across the kadhi that was source of his affection – his mom’s.
Her kadhi set a standard that’s hard to measure up to. It’s rich, yet light, deeply flavorful, and has tender, moist pakoras.
The best part? Her recipe (the one I’m sharing!) is fuss-free and simple to make – the middle ground between grandparent-approved taste and millennial-approved ease.
One common error is adding too much chickpea flour (besan). This causes the chickpea flour to swell and start bubbling, making it appear as though the kadhi has finished cooking. In reality, it requires a lot longer cooking time to make sure the chickpea flour is fully cooked.
How to Make Kadhi Pakora in the Instant Pot
To make kadhi in the Instant Pot:
- Combine the chickpea flour and yogurt and whisk to combine until no lumps remain. Add water and whisk again. Set aside.
- Select the high Sauté setting on the Instant Pot. Once hot, sauté the onion until it browns, then add the ginger and garlic. Add the spices and sauté for 15-20 seconds, then add the yogurt mixture and stir infrequently until it begins to boil. It’s very important to bring it to a boil, else you could risk a burn error. Once the mixture starts to reach a boil, hit cancel and pressure cook for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the pakora mixture and fry the pakoras.
- Open the pot, adjust seasoning and salt, add a little lemon for extra sourness, and then add the pakoras.
- Lastly, prepare the Tadka (or tempering) by heating ghee and sauting cumin and whole red chili. This is optional, but recommended.
How to make Kadhi Pakora on the Stovetop
The method for making Kadhi over the stovetop remains the same. To cook it over the stovetop:
Use a non-stick dutch oven to cook the kadhi. Once the yogurt and chickpea flour mixture comes to a boil (this will take around 12 minutes), lower the heat to medium-low so that the mixture simmers. Keep the lid uncovered, and allow it to simmer for 1 hours and 35 minutes to 2 hours. Stir occasionally. Then lower the heat to the lowest setting and allow to finish cooking.
How to create sourness in Kadhi
Kadhi is traditionally made with sour yogurt. I have tried desi-style yogurt from Indian stores, and it does have a subtle sour tang, but I prefer plain whole milk yogurt for this recipe. I’ve added a bit of lemon juice at the end to enhance the sour taste.
Another tip is to add 1-2 tsp vinegar while your kadhi is cooking. If you do this, add 1/4-1/2 tsp sugar to offset the sourness.
Tea For Turmeric Tips for making Kadhi Pakora:
- If you prefer to pan-fry or air-fry pakoras, you can do so with the instructions in my pan-fried pakora recipe.
- I typically prepare the pakoras while the kadhi is cooking in the Instant Pot. You may prepare the pakora mixture (be sure to cover and refrigerate) or the pakoras ahead of time and use them when the recipe requires.
- You know the kadhi is cooked when the oil has separated from the yogurt/chickpea flour mixture and risen to the top. The Instant Pot makes this easy to see, but you can tell over the stovetop when its given enough time to cook.
- To prevent a burn sign from occurring, make sure to bring the mixture to a boil before closing the lid for pressure cooking.
More Instant Pot you may like:
Kadhi Pakora (Instant Pot and Stovetop)
- Instant Pot
- Small Saucepan
- Fry Pan
- Scant 2 cups (500 grams) plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1 ¼ cups (130 grams) chickpea flour (gram flour/besan)
- 6 cups water
- 2 tsp mild Kashmiri red chili powder use less if using cayenne
- 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
- ½-1 tsp garam masala
- 2 3/4 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/3-1/2 cup neutral oil such as grapeseed or avocado
- 1 small to medium onion finely chopped
- 5-6 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 heaped tbsp crushed ginger
- 1 small red or yellow onion thinly sliced into quarter moons
- 1 small potato peeled and thinly sliced into quarter moons or thinly diced
- 1-2 Serrano peppers or 4-5 small Thai chili peppers or slit, seeds removed and finely chopped
- 2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp red chili powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp lemon juice optional
- 1 ¼ cup chickpea flour
- 2/3 cup water or as needed
- oil, as needed for frying
- 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar* (see note) optional
- 2 tbsp ghee or oil
- 7-8 whole red chili peppers any kind (I've used button chili peppers)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp cilantro leaves chopped
- In a medium bowl, add the chickpea flour and yogurt and whisk to combine until no lumps remain. Add water and whisk again. Set aside.
- Combine the spices and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat a non-stick dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil and chopped onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to sauté for 1-2 minutes, until the raw smell disappears. Add the spices and sauté for 15-20 seconds, then add the yogurt mixture and stir infrequently until it begins to boil.
- Once the mixture starts to reach a boil (~12 minutes), lower the heat to medium-low so that the mixture simmers. Keep the lid uncovered, and allow it to simmer for 1 hours and 35 minutes to 2 hours. Stir occasionally. Then lower the heat to the lowest setting for 5-10 minutes to allow it to settle.
Instant Pot Method
- Select the high Sauté setting on the Instant Pot. Once hot, add the oil and chopped onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to sauté for 1-2 minutes, until the raw smell disappears. Add the spices and sauté for 15-20 seconds, then add the yogurt mixture and stir infrequently until it begins to boil.
- Once the mixture reaches a boil (this will take 8-10 minutes), press the Cancel button to turn off the Instant Pot. Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook setting and set it to low pressure. Set the cooking time for 30 minutes.
To Prepare Pakoras
- Meanwhile, prepare the pakora mixture. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients listed under pakora (except oil) in the order they're listed. Add water, bit by bit, until the mixture is coated but not wet. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes to give the ingredients time to release their own juices.
- Heat a small deep frying pan over high heat. Once hot, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan by 2-3 inches.
- Add the pakora mixture a heaped tablespoon at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan (I do 4 at a time). Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, adding oil as needed. Use a slotted spoon to place on a plate topped with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Repeat until all pakoras are cooked.
- Allow the pressure to naturally release for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, manually release pressure by moving the Pressure Release to Venting.
- Open the pot and taste and adjust salt. I usually sprinkle in more salt at this point. Sprinkle in lemon juice, if desired. Add cooked pakoras to the mix and stir gently. Remove from the Instant Pot and place in a serving bowl.
Tadka (Tempering) – Optional, but recommend
- Heat a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add ghee or oil, cumin seeds, and red whole chili. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, until the cumin seeds have lightly toasted and the red chili peppers begin to darken. Remove from heat and then gently pour the oil over the kadhi. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with white basmati rice, roti, naan, or other bread.