Punjabi Karhi; Chickpea Flour and Yogurt Curry

Finally , the fall has arrived here in the Pacific Northwest. Yesterday we had a nice sunny day, but today was a typical PNW kind of day with an overcast sky. Days like this and Punjabi Karhi with plain boiled rice go hand in hand.  Also because I had a huge bowl of homemade yogurt sitting in my fridge and taking up half a shelf 😜  , I decided to make Karhi . It is a traditional Punjabi food made with chickpea flour and yogurt and tempered with lots of spices. This curry traditionally has deep fried chickpea flour fritters floating in the curry. I definitely made my mom and dad happy today!

Karhi is not something that I make too often because it doesn’t taste the same without the deep-fried fritters and I try to avoid making stuff that involves deep frying.  But hey, once in a while is okay, right…Well today I guess was that once in a while. As a kid, I used to have karhi made by my grandmother and she used to say that karhi has to be simmered at minimum heat for a nice long time…because” Karhi ” actually means “simmered”. There you have it; you make a curry with chickpea flour and yogurt and simmer it at low heat for a couple of hours and you have your “Karhi”

You have to make karhi in a heavy bottom pan and stir it often to avoid burnt and scorched chickpea flour flavour. The fritters are made on the side and added to the curry before serving. My dadima (paternal grandmother) used to make the fritters with just plain chickpea flour seasoned with salt, pepper, coriander and cumin powder. You can add chopped up onions, potatoes and any blend of seasonings and spices you like. I added some chopped onions, green chilli, ginger and garlic with some cumin, coriander, salt and kasoori methi to it. I just love the pungent flavour of kasoori methi in my curries.

Punjabi Karhi Chickpea flour and yogurt curry with fritters

Here is a list of Ingredients

 For Karhi 

2 cups sour yogurt

3/4 cup chickpea flour

2 cups water

1/2 onion thinly sliced

6 cloves garlic minced

1/2 ” piece of ginger minced

1 sprig curry leaves

4 dry red chillies

1 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp black peppercorn

1 tsp Garam Masala

1/4 cup kasoori methi

2 tbsp mustard oil

Salt and chilli powder to taste


Add yogurt to a big mixing bowl and add chickpea flour, 1 tsp salt, chilli powder to taste and 1 tsp turmeric powder and leave aside.

Heat a heavy bottom pan at high heat and add mustard oil to it. When the oil starts to smoke, reduce the heat to medium and add asafoetida powder, dry red chillies ,cumin, coriander ,fenugreek and mustard seeds.

When the seeds start sputtering add curry leaf along with ginger garlic and onions. Sauté till onion is caramelized about 5-7 minutes.

Add the yogurt chickpea mix and stir well. Keep stirring every so often so that the chickpea flour doesn’t scorch.  When the mixture comes to a rolling boil, add the remaining water and bring it to a boil again stirring often.

Reduce the heat to minimum and cook the karhi partially covered for about an hour or so. If it becomes too thick, add more water to get the right consistency, which for me is crepe batter kind of consistency.

Adjust the seasonings, add the pakoras, kasoori methi and serve piping hot with plain boiled rice.

For the Pakoras :

1 cup chickpea flour

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ginger garlic paste

1/2 onion thinly sliced

1/2 cup or so water to make the batter

salt and pepper to taste

Oil for deep frying


Heat oil for deep frying in a fryer or a deep vessel till it is almost smoking hot and then reduce the heat to medium.

Add the dry spices and baking soda to the chickpea flour and make a thick better adding just enough water.

Add the ginger garlic paste and chopped onion and mix well.

Drop the batter by the spoonful (tsp) into the hot oil, trying to make as round a fritter as possible.

When the fritters are golden take them out and drain them on the paper towel.

Add them to Karhi just before serving.

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