Growing up in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan, Pawan Kaur learned at a young age to let nothing go to waste. She pulls inspiration from her small family farm and the teachings of her mom, who had a knack for prepping one ingredient in many ways. Here, Pawan — the content creator behind @whattheroti — shares her cultural influences and her own recipe for her beloved khadi.
How does your heritage or culture influence your home cooking?
I grew up in a family in Punjab where nothing went to waste. Conceptually, it was farm to table: We used the vegetables that were grown on our small farm. I remember my mom being able to create so many dishes with one simple vegetable. We made large batches of everything, shared stories while eating, and learned how to make the best of what we had. I have carried that practice through my life in America, and to this day, I can’t help but make large batches of food and share it with my neighbors. I also find myself wandering in my small garden and using one vegetable to create multiple different dishes.
How do you celebrate Vaisakhi? What does it mean to you?
I celebrate by going to the Gurdwara and making food for my community, as well as sharing with those in need. Vaisakhi represents my identity, bliss, and resilience — things I put into practice on a daily basis.
Is there a story or favourite memory behind the recipe you’re making today? How did you learn how to make it? How have you made it your own?
When we were kids, my siblings, cousins and I used to fight for the pakoray my mom would add in her kadhi. It’s still such a beautiful memory that I relive it every time I add pakoray to my own kadhi. I sometimes like to add amchur powder for extra tang.
What are some of your other favourite dishes?
Rajma chol and jalebis (the perfect sweet treat) that we would eat whenever there was a festival in our town!
Do you have any memorable or funny kitchen fails or stories involving cooking your recipe?
I remember not being able to find homemade dahi when I first moved to America. I tried making kadhi so many times and it never met my expectations. I then built up the courage to ask my neighbor (who was Indian) if they had homemade dahi so that I could make my own. Now, there are so many store-bought dahi brands or plain kefir one can use.
Do you have any tips/tricks or advice for anyone who would like to recreate your recipe?
Don’t be intimidated and have fun with the recipe! This is the base; feel free to add your favourite vegetables, pakoray or anything else you fancy!
Pawan Kaur’s Khadi
1 white onion
4-inch piece of ginger
4-6 garlic cloves
Handful of cilantro
1 large russet potato
Serrano pepper to taste
2 tbsp. desi ghee (or neutral oil)
2 cups dahi
1/2 cup gram flour
6-8 cups of water (add more as needed)
1/2 tbsp. dried methi (fenugreek leaves)
Salt to taste
1/2 tbsp. masala
1/2 tbsp. turmeric
Prepare the base ingredients. Finely chop ginger, garlic, and serrano pepper. Dice the onion and peel or cube the potato. Combine yogurt and gram flour until there are little to no lumps.
Add desi ghee to your Perfect Pot on medium heat. Add in the ginger, garlic, and serrano pepper. Cook until golden brown.
Add in the onion, serrano pepper, and salt, then cook until translucent. Follow by adding turmeric and fenugreek. Give the ingredients an occasional mix and cook for a few minutes.
Add in the dahi and gram flour. Mix everything well and add more turmeric as needed to obtain an egg yolk colour. Add in about 6-8 cups of water and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Add more water for a thinner consistency.
Add in the potatoes and cook for another 15 minutes on medium-to-low heat. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy.