Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Green beans pakoda Kadhi (Green bean dumplings in a spicy yogurt sauce) - no frying involved

Almonds - a nut that is good for you. So much so that not too much thought goes into its usage, increases the creaminess and taste quotient when added to simple payasam, adds some mojo to the mixed nuts, makes a wonderful halwa or a burfi, flavored milk and the list goes on. It does not cost an arm and a leg to have bag of these nuts in the pantry. Looks like that might change - Bees are busier than ever as disease besieges colonies. I have read a couple of years ago about the the colony collapse disorder and how it was killing off the bees. When I saw the article I was curious to find the almond, honey bee connection.

shredded beans

Did you know that 80% of the world's almonds comes from California? CA gets more revenue from almonds than it does from wines. As the acreage under almond cultivation increased so did the need for pollinators(read honey bees). Pollination domain is not owned by the honey bees. Butterflies, bumble bees, moths, even wasps and bats are all pollinators in their own right but they are wild insects and not organized like the honey bees which live in colonies and make it easy to be transported.

add the chickpea flour, chopped onions and the spice powders

Like with every China connection the dumping of cheap Chinese honey into the US made the prices of local honey uncompetitive and US honey bee keepers could not stay afloat. But luckily for the US honey bee keepers, this coincided with the increase in monoculture where large acreages were brought under cultivation of a single crop. With the disappearance of small family farms, diversity of crops also disappeared which is essential for wild pollinators. Large scale commercial operations which specializes in a single crop organized in neat tracts of land formed with destruction of wild flower meadows, application of pesticides which removed weeds the wild pollinators were destroyed.

prepared batter

This destruction of wild pollinators threw a lifeline to the bee keepers in the form of commercial pollination. The almond growers in the absence of wild pollinators and not enough honey bees available locally required trucking of honey bees from the other parts of the country and thus providing an alternate livelihood for bee keepers.

use the paniyaram pan to make the pakodas

Not just almonds, oranges, apples, cranberries and even melons all required commercial honey bee keepers for pollination but none demand the prices that almond does in the world market, so the demand for the bee hives are set by the almond growers.

Reference: This excellent article on SFGate.com.

cooked pakoda

Arrive the diseases that are affecting the bee colonies and large numbers of bees dying off. Researchers initially thought they would arrive out one single virus affecting the bees but they found out it was a cumulative effect of several. The prices for bee hives have been going up steadily as more and more bee hives are in danger. Beekeepers do not fail to remind everyone that most vegetables and fruits we eat everyday require the honey bees for pollination.

yogurt mixed in with chickpea flour, turmeric and chili powder

As honey bees in the US are dying off, honey bees are shipped from Australia and diseases in that population affect the hives here.

the pakodas floating in the yogurt

There are others who decry this over dependence on honey bees which are not native to the US to do most of the pollination which the native pollinators had done a century before. They also argue bees and honey making again is exploitation of animals.

you will be forgiven if you think this is pudding but it is pakoda kadhi

"We have been losing bees and beekeepers in this country for 60 years, and now we are at the point where almost half the colonies in the country are needed to pollinate almonds in California," vanEngelsdorp said. "We are close to the margin" of a viable ratio of pollinators to crops, he said. "It's amazing to me how close we are to that line."
Source: Washington Post article

These facts by themselves should be quite alarming. Most food crops, vegetables and fruits that are grown in large number are from a very few species and those are dependent on a very few creatures to sustain. The way our food is sourced is severely fucked up and the more I read about it the more scarier it gets. There are smart people who make decisions they are surely seeing these problems that scientists and those in the food movement have been talking about for years.

Haagen Dazs has an interactive and very feature about honey bees, their importance to food production and how we can help to save them.

The Recipe
Now on to a bit more pleasant things. I have spoken a bit about this hole in the wall place we used to frequent. Cheap but fresh Indian food, what if the place was a bit dirty we did a carryout or avoided looking at the floor. At this place was my first introduction to methi parathas and pakoda kadhi. A sardarji who manned the griddle was also a server suggested both the dishes. Who would turn down a recommendaton from the cook himself? Skeptical at first about a pakoda kadhi, huh?

In my corner of India, we knew pakoda very well, the very popular deep fried snack, as for kadhi was called mor kuzhambu, often made when there was an excess of sour yogurt and the crisper held no fresh vegetables. One was a tea time snack the other at least in my childhood home was a night time side dish for rice. But in my world the two had never met in a cooking pot.

But the taste hooked us from the very first try and became a regular restaurant order but not always consistently tasty and always with a layer of yellow tinged oil floating on top. Two things about this dish had me in knots about trying this simple and easy recipe, cooking the yogurt on a stove top and bringing all the work to a naught when the curdling happens. Deep frying the pakoda was the other. The more kadhi I saw on blogs and my doubts being cleared, slowly but surely I was running out of excuses. An occasion presented itself with an over abundance of yogurt. I was to make homemade yogurt for around 80 people and like is my habit I made yogurt for 150 people and left with plenty of sour yogurt. RC's baked pakodas and Sharmila's assurance that the chick pea flour keeps the yogurt from breaking had me experimenting with a dish which until then was a restaurant only fare. I had some green beans turning black and made itself the main ingredient in the pakoda.

Recipe Source: Kadhi Pakoda from Edible Garden

Green bean pakoda kadhi
To make pakodas
1. 2 cups of minced green beans
2. 2 cups of chick pea flour
3. 1 tbsp chili powder
4. 2 tsp cumin powder
5. 1 tbsp curry leaves powder
6. 1 tsp cumin seeds
7. 1/2 tbsp ginger grated
8. 1/2 onion minced - 1/2 cup worth
9. salt to taste
10. oil for making the pakodas (grease the paniyaram pan)

For the yogurt gravy (kadhi)
1. 4 cups of yogurt (from fat free milk) whisked + 1 cup of water
2. 1 1/2 tbsp of chick pea flour (I used a less than 1/2 cup and it was a bit much)
3. 1/2 tbsp of chili powder
4. 2 tsp of turmeric powder
5. 3 tsp of grated of ginger
6. seasonings : cumin seeds, 3 red chilies broken and seeds removed, asfoetida
7. 1 tsp oil
8. salt to taste

1. To make the batter for the pakoda, mix the ingredients in the to make pakoda section, add 1/2 cup of water and make a thick batter.
2. Heat the paniyaram pan, grease the holes and pour the batter into the holes. Let them cook on one side, flip and cook on the other side. Make sure a tooth pick or any sharp needle like object inserted comes out clean.
(You can stop here and enjoy the pakoda paniyarams but we won't do that)
3. Set aside and start to prepare the kadhi
4. Whisk in the chick pea flour with chili powder,turmeric powder to the yogurt.
5. Heat a thick bottomed pan, heat the oil add the cumin seeds, asfoetida and red chilies. Add the ginger and saute for a minute or two.
6. Reduce the heat all the way to low and add the yogurt, raise the heat to medium low and let it heat through, add salt.
7. Add the pakodas and continue to cook for 12 - 15 minutes.
8. The time you cook depends on the consistency of the kadhi required ( I cooked it for about 20 minutes and it became quite thick like seen in the picture)

Serve over rice or parathas.

Miri, says that the best kadhi is when it is simmered for 12-15 minutes.

It was not that hard in the end. The biggest problem was keeping off the pakodas before they hit the yogurt. It was a perfect with some soft rotis.


  1. I'd never have linked almonds with bees. Ever! Interesting read there, ISG.
    The pakodi kadhi looks great! And a non-fried pakori at that.

  2. I knew US had lot of almonds but didn't know about the 80%.
    Don't have the pan, but i have seen here in the cooking shop pans loks this but then for making a kind of sweedish pancake.
    Next trip to that shop i am gonna buy the pan, these green bean pakoras look so so yumm.

  3. Never tries green beans in pakoda, thats sounds truly innovative...Kadhi pakoda looks yummy and loved the way u prepare the pakodas...guilt free gravy..

  4. Wow! That's quite an info ISG! The next time I munch on almonds I'll remember how much has gone to 'making' it. :-)
    I recently got an appey pan and am just loving it. Adding beans to the pakodas is a wonderful idea.
    And wowie! you trusted me enough on that kadhi ... it looks wonderful! Thanks for the mention. :-)

  5. This sounds and looks so delicious.

  6. "But in my world the two had never met in a cooking pot." - Loved that sentence.

    Enjoyed learning about the birds and the bees, Indo!

  7. It is only after news of the Colony Collapse Disorder broke out that I realized how vital bees are to the food we eat, but did not know about almonds. Thanks for your informative posts.

    The kadhi pakodas look wonderful!

  8. hey the pakodas look so tasty..I doubt if they will make it to the kadhi :P..I will eat them all as is..LOL

  9. Yum yum... I love kadhi :D Lovely recipe

  10. Indo

    I got that pan from Amazon, just so I could make pakodis with little oil but haven't used it yet.
    I like Pakodi Kadhi but all that deep frying makes it an occasional dish at home. Now that you have said this, I will try out soon

  11. I love kadi pakodi and use my paniyaram pan as well :) my version has a lot of veggies for the pakodi though. Yummy and I love the thick creamy custard like texture of urs - I want some now!

  12. Bees and Almonds? I actually thought of dates and wines from CA not almonds..

    Green bean pakodas color looks so green ;)
    Paniyaam pan for pakoda is a good idea ISG. I use it to make koftas too.

  13. pakodi kadhi is my favorite. Looks soooo yummy. Love the ingredients too!!!

  14. Green beans pakoda is really unique and I can feel the taste of this yummy kadhi :) Using paniyaram pan for pakodas and koftas is such a great idea:)

  15. Green beans pakoda is really unique and I can feel the taste of this yummy kadhi :) Using paniyaram pan for pakodas and koftas is such a great idea:)

  16. wow, never knew about the honey bees and the crises that is unfolding right in the place I live.. thanks for the informative post, Indo! just shows how disturbing even a single thing in nature's equilibrium can have such sad consequences.

    pakora kadhi looks delicious. i started using the appe patra (the cast-iron pan)for making pakoras too, it works like magic with very less oil.

  17. Thats an interesting read Indo. I am thinking hard to stop using cell phones. I believe its possible. These dumplings are so inviting and I think you won't have anything left to dump in the kadhi! Love the combination.

  18. Love the addition of green beans to the pakodas, i was first wondering how you managed to grate the beans - then realised a food processor would have helped you in that :)
    I've recently acquired a appam pan and am amazed as to how versatile it can be - i even made muffins in the pan with success -
    I have tried kadi pakodi several times in restaurants but the laziness to deep fry has kept me from trying at home -
    Want to try it out sometime soon.

  19. Woooow,,,pakora kadi looks perfect,, i hv been thinking to cook pakoda kadi with kichri this week,,,sure m gonna try it this week.beans pakora that too in paniyaram form sounds great,,,thanks for sharing dear,,take care n keep on smiling.

  20. coming after a while Indo! delicious and healthy kadhi.

  21. Very informative post ISG !

    I make kadhi regularly but have yet to try the pakoda with kadhi version, it looks delicious !

  22. Goodness, I did not know that 80% of almond produce came from CA and the link between almonds and bees.
    Preparing yogurt for 80-150 people? I can never imagine that. Kudos to you though. Thanks for the mention, ISG. This is a pretty cool idea.
    What are the odds, I posted a paniyaram recipe too.

  23. Awesome looking kadhi. Now that spring is here, I like to cook dishes with yogurt in them :)

  24. Awesome..the pakodas look so tempting that ,I was wondering how much I will be putting in the kadhi..lol..

  25. u don't need to use oil in the paniyaram pans? is it steam cooked?

  26. This pakoda kadhi look so delicious can't wait to try ..

    Have a great day !

    Thanks for sharing your recipe :)

  27. That bakery can give a run for their money to all the places here ;)

  28. Ok, I missed this. You made yogurt for 150 people !!! Phewww....Whole of MD eat your yogurt ;-), send me some

  29. Shaheen, the paniyaram pans have to be greased, if it is nonstick like the ones I used, only a teeny bit.

    Sandeepa, 150 might have been an exaggeration but, made yogurt with 2 gallons of milk. Did not realize how much of yogurt that is. After the event, I gave away to friends and still had a lot left.

  30. I will have to try with the paniyaram pan again; the paniyarams I made tended to stick to the pan when I used less oil...
    Pakoda kadhi is what was for lunch today!

  31. The only reason that I prefer veggies in a kadhi is the deep frying and flour overload - now that you show us the option of the appe pan and the green beans - its perfect!!!

    To make a really nice nice tasting kadhi Indo - simmer it for atleast 12-15 minutes - it really improves the taste.

  32. Miri, I probably cooked it for longer than 15 minutes. (I will also mend the post)

    Anita, I have a non-stick pan, the iron one that I have too works with less oil. But I use a spray which tends to coat the hole evenly.

  33. Hi Indo, kadhi is perfect. I love the idea of using paniyaram pan for pakodas instead of frying. BTW, please tell which brand peanut oil do you use. I am trying to get a good Natural peanut oil but all that I see contain TBHQ and other antifoaming agents added.

  34. Gattes are so yummy ISG, you must try it..It is like paruppu urundai morekozhambu but gattes taste so good on their own too..

  35. the sauce sounds heavenly and super easy to do.
    the bee news is just sad...

  36. I wonder if my kids will love this recipe. I am planning to make some for my family! Good luck to my result.

  37. Green beans Pakodi kadhi looks superb and sounds interesting!Like the idea of using paniyaram pans as I avoid deep frying as much as possible.

  38. Rudesha, the peanut oil brand I have is Planters (which does not say much on the label). Perhaps in a natural food store might carry it?

    dining table, glad you are going to give it a try. But if your kids are used to eating sweet yougurt, trying a spicy form might be a little off tasting perhaps? you never know what the reaction will be.

  39. this is interesting ..neva tried this combo before....its really innovative n yummy..will give a try...frst time hr...u hv wonderful space... will keep followin!

  40. Hi there, first time here and i must say you have nice space. Will be regular visitor from nowonwards. :)

  41. on my goodness! i simply adore kadhi - i just love the take on the pakodis here. fantastic!!

  42. A superb post on honey bees! I learnt so much. And I really like the no-fry pakodas!


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