Kumaoni Style Badi/Vadi Curry (Pahadi Dried Lentil Drop Curry)
Kumauni Badi Curry is a humble curry made of homemade dried lentil drops usually cooked simmering over low heat in the wooden fire/chullah flavored with garlic chunks and wheat flour. In Kumauni region, Vadi is usually pronounced as Badi in the local dialect and the whole dish when served with rice, is called Badi – Bhaat (Rice). Many of us who are familiar with Punjabi Masala Vadis, yes the making of these lentil drops is very much similar to that but without any spices and with a very little addition of basic seasoning. In Pahadi Badi Curry, wheat flour is acting as a thickening as well as the flavoring agent whereas in other cuisines mostly tomato is used to flavor the curry.
When I asked my mom the reason behind making these lentil drops and storing them, she explained during earlier days life was not so easy in the foothill of Himalayas, natural produce was limited due to harsh weather and confined resources, during the season when lentils are in abundance Pahadi ladies started making lentil drops, sun dry them in the soft winter sun and store it for the coming bad days, that is how making and storing of Badis got so popular over the entire Kumaun region. Today it has become a Kumauni tradition and every household follows it like a yearly ritual by making a small batch of Badis for family and relatives.
I have grown up in the era where I have seen my mother and aunts grinding lentil for the Badi in stone mortar and pestle for hours and my great grandmother sitting close by to provide her experienced guidance to do it perfectly, today I cannot imagine that much of hard work in my kitchen but in those days without any food processor my mother used to grind 3 – 4 kgs of lentil, shape them of equal size with fingers and then arrange them neatly in giant sized trays and my only contribution was to take those giant trays to the terrace for sun drying. As I grew up she used to engage me in shaping Badis from the lentil paste and always complained about my not so fine shape Badis.
Today I have capitulated to this metro life and do not even dare to make my own batch of Badi at home but I get my regular supply of it from home, where ladies still make it every year with the same zeal and love, considering it a sacred ritual which needs to be passed on from one generation to the other, sadly the art is slowly dying as the new generation is more keen on learning western food delicacies This post is my ode to all the Pahadi ladies who been making Badis from years just to keep this food art alive.
Kumaoni Style Badi Curry
8 – 10 dried badi/vadi (lentil drops)
1 onion, chopped
3 – 4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp ginger – green chili paste
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
4 tbsp ghee
Salt, as per taste
2 tsp red chili powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
Water for cooking
Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a pan and fry badi over medium flame until golden on both sides. Drain on an absorbent paper and set aside.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat remaining 2 tbsp ghee over medium heat.
Add cumin seeds and saute until brown in color and fragrant.
Now add chopped garlic and saute for 1 – 2 minutes.
Add in chopped onion and ginger – green chili paste, fry until onion turn translucent.
Add wheat flour and roast over medium flame until flour turn deep brown in color and starts releasing a distinct aroma.
Once flour is roasted, add enough water to make curry, salt, spices and fried badiya.
Let it simmer over low flame till curry thickens and badiyan get cooked. The cooking time for badi depends on the quality of the badi, mine usually takes 20 – 30 minutes.
And the curry tastes better only when simmered over low heat for sometime.
Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with rice.