Updated: Jan 1, 2021
This is my dad's (Dr T) favorite dish and he requests it a lot. What is kadhi? Wikipedia has some answers.
Kadhi kichriy is interesting because it is never served at Mauritian dinner parties or restaurants but it is eaten often at home. It is a dish that is considered classic "home food" but not suitable to serve to guests. I've learned about different versions thanks to my dad shamelessly requesting relatives make it for him when we visit family back home in Mauritius.
Think of it like this... some relatives are coming to visit you from abroad and you haven't seen them in five years. You call them up and say "I'm so excited to see you! Come for dinner! What should I cook you?!?" And they reply, "my favorite dish in the world is spaghetti". And you think to yourself "uhhh okay...? But you've come all this way.... don't you want something more exciting? No? You really just want me to make pasta for dinner?"
You get the idea.
But it is my dad's favorite dish so some lovely family members indulge him and make delicious kadhi kichriy for us all. One particularly memorable version is made by Ruby khala, my mom's cousin. Her version is vegetarian and the gravy takes on a light yellow tint from the turmeric and fresh cilantro leaves. It is eaten with rice that has been cooked with cumin, spices, and moong daal.
Below is my mom's kadhi kichriy recipe. Though this kadhi is traditionally vegetarian, my mom and I both cook a chicken version as well. I've included both variations though I recommend trying the OG vegetarian version first.
Wash one cup of moong daal and two cups of basmati rice in cold water to remove the excess starch. When the water runs clear, add both to a rice cooker with 4.5 cups of water, 2 cardamom pods, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon turmeric and a big pinch of salt. Give it a stir and then let the rice cooker do its thing.
Also doable on a stove: the ingredients above are the same. Just bring everything to a boil on medium heat, then cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. When the daal and rice have absorbed all the water, take the pan off the heat and give it a good fluff with a fork. (Pro tip: get a rice cooker).
•gram flour (besan)
•ginger & garlic
• fenugreek seeds
The most important step is to properly combine the yogurt with gram flour (aka besan). Not doing this right will cause the sauce to separate when it hits the heat, so let's do this step first. In a bowl, whisk 2 cups of plain yogurt (490g), 2 cups of water (470 ml), 1 teaspoon of salt, and 3 tablespoons of gram flour (aka besan). Whisk it well, like REALLY well. Stir in a big bunch of finely chopped cilantro and set aside.
Pro tip: I take the yogurt, besan, water, salt, and cilantro leaves and whizz everything in a blender for 15 seconds to save me the hassle of whisking and chopping. A stick blender would do the trick too.
Time to cook. Finely chop up a large white onion and mince up a teaspoon each of ginger and garlic. Finely chop up a small green finger chili.
Heat a deep pot with sunflower oil (or any flavorless oil) and add the onions, ginger, garlic and chili. Add 5 dried curry leaves, a teaspoon of cumin seeds, a teaspoon of cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, a tablespoon of tomato paste, and 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds. Keep the heat on medium and don't let the onions burn. Cook it for 5 minutes, stirring enough to prevent anything from sticking.
Add the yogurt mixture and slowly heat everything up to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and let all the flavors marry together for about 15 minutes.
Serve with the rice and some spicy mango pickle.
CHICKEN KADHI KICHRIY VARIATION
The yogurt-whisking step is the same so start the kadhi as you would above.
When you get to the onion-and-spices-frying stage, add your chicken (4 drumsticks and/or 1-2 chopped chicken breasts) and let it braise with everything else. Then add the yogurt mixture as described above and let everything cook for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked.
Really, the recipe is identical except adding chicken at the onion-braising stage.