Thursday, December 6, 2012

IHCC: Potluck!

This week it's potluck time at I Heart Cooking Clubs, a chance to make something that's caught your eye of late. I chose to make a chickpea flour stew with dumplings. I ran into this idea a couple of years ago, when looking for a way to use up some besan (chickpea or gram flour), and used this week's theme as an excuse to actually try the recipe. (N.B.: chickpea flour/gram flour/besan doesn't seem to keep long in the cupboard, but does well in the freezer.)

Almost exactly the same recipe can be found in Climbing the Mango Trees (p254), but I used the one in A Taste of India (p42), Chickpea Flour Stew with Dumplings (Karhi). I made a half recipe with all the spices (as I frequently do). You start this dish by making the karhi sauce, first frying some cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, and fifteen (count them!) fenugreek seeds with dried chilies, and adding some turmeric at the end. Then you stir in the mixture of yogurt, water, and chickpea flour and let it simmer away for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile you make a batter for the dumplings of besan, baking soda, and yogurt. The recipe calls for this mixture to be beaten vigorously with a wooden spoon for ten minutes. I was already thinking of using the food processor for this when I read Julie Sahni's very similar* recipe for Chick-pea Dumplings in Yogurt Sauce (Kadhi) in Classic Indian Cooking (p284). (Yes, that's a one-letter spelling difference.) Sahni admits that vigorous beating is "tiring and time-consuming" and suggests using the food processor instead. Yay!

*Sahni says that in her family they add vegetables to the sauce, frying potatoes and onions with the spices before adding the yogurt mixture. She also adds some ground coriander to the dumpling mixture, which might be a nice touch.

Oops, I slipped a gear while halfing the recipe and added all the yogurt to the food processor, so I ended up making all the dumplings. The batter is dropped by the teaspoonful into hot oil to be fried.

When they've turned a lovely reddish color, the dumplings are drained on paper towels (Jaffrey) or in water (Sahni). I did some of each, but can't say that we noticed the difference in the final product. (Ed found a whole menagerie in all the dumpling shapes.)

When you're ready to eat, you reheat the karhi/kadhi, add the dumplings, and heat gently for ten minutes.

As suggested, I served the dumpling stew with plain basmati rice. For a veg, I made one of my standard Indian side dishes Tangy Green Beans with Ajwain and Ginger (Spice Kitchen, p38), which is nice because you can get everything ready ahead of time, then finish in the last ten minutes or so with minimal attention.

For the two of us, I made half of a recipe that should serve six, although we had all the dumplings. I was expecting to have some of the stew left, maybe to serve over toast for lunch tomorrow. But we decided to be piggy and finished it all off. Strangely, though, we both thought that the sauce that had been standing for a bit was more flavorful that what was first served.

Jaffrey suggest serving this stew with lamb kebabs, rice, and a vegetable. That sounds like quite a good combination. Also, since both the sauce and the dumplings can be made ahead and reheated just before serving, this could be a nice company dish.

This post is shared with this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs.


  1. You really can't go wrong with little fried balls of dough! I could eat them up right out of the oil/fryer. But the sauce looks really good too.

  2. YUM!! I have just started using a little chickpea flour so this one is definitely on my to-make list.

  3. I have never tried making dumpling before. Like Michele says, I too could eat it just as it is! Having it with the sauce looks wonderful too!

  4. Thanks for the tip about keeping besan in the freezer. Besan is very hard to find and I definitely want mine to keep well.

    I'm loving your dumplings. Total heaven!