Monday, August 22, 2011

How Can Badi...Be So Good?! Simple Vegetable Stew With A Kick

    I want to get one thing straight. I roll old school. I go from scratch every chance I get. If I can possibly make it myself, I do. Part of this stems from being a mad picky eater as a kid, the other part comes from my desire to know as much as I possibly can about how food is put together and how people did it way back in the olden days. I also think that secretly I'm prepping for a time when these skills may be valuable, or maybe I've just seen The Road a few too many times. Yes, someday I'll be able to barter my canning skills and chapatti making for a milllllllllion dollars mmmwahhhhahahahaha. Okay, back to reality.
   Growing up in my house, a large part of doing it oneself had to do with budgeting. When I grew up, I carried that "do it yourself" thing over into my cooking for another reason: To have a bit more control over what went onto my plate. So when I go for something out of a package, I want something I'm really, really going to like, and that will taste really, really great. Which brings me to the subject of badi .
   If you've never heard of badi, let me fill you in. Badi are hard nuggets of seasoned dal dried in the sun (or the oven) that add a great texture and flavor to whatever dishes they're used in. I could make them myself. In fact don't be surprised if you see a post on that here soon. But for convenience, I like to buy them and have them ready-made in my cupboard for whenever the mood strikes me.

    Well, the  mood hit me the other day. I'd just purchased a whole butt load of fresh bottle gourd and I wound up rummaging through my pantry to make vegetable stew with badi. I've been making this stew for years. The original recipe came from Yamuna Devis book Lord Krishnas' Cuisine. The recipe is extremely simple and I've vamped on it countless times, adding my own twists as I go. That's the other great thing about this dish; it's friendly to whatever vegetables might be hanging around the fridge. So take this recipe and have your own fun with it.

Indian Vegetable Stew

Here's what to do:
   The way badi is prepared is simple. It's whacked with a mallet until it shatters into a lot of little pieces. Great way of getting the frustrations out.

  Heat 2 Tbs of unsalted butter, ghee or coconut oil in a heavy skillet or kadhai.
 When the butter is warm and foamy, toss in 1/2 cup of  badi pieces and stir fry them until they turn a nice reddish brown.
 Toss in:
3/4 of a lb of peeled chopped bottle gourd, or zucchini, summer or yellow squash.  I added some extra peeled and chopped eggplant.

 If using fresh peas, add 1/2 cup now, if using frozen wait until later.
Then add:
  1 or 2 fresh whole serrano chilies
  4 whole cloves
  1 cinnamon stick
  2 Tbs of dried or fresh mint
 4 Tbs of chopped fresh cilantro
 2/3  of a cup of half and half, or to make it completely vegan, soy, rice or almond milk.

 Turn the heat down, put a lid on things and simmer for about 30 minutes. Keep stirring until all the liquid is absorbed and the vegetables are tender. Give the vegetables a turn every now and then so that they don't stick.
 Special note:
   During the last 10 minutes the vegetables are cooking, take out those whole chilies and add in:
 1 tsp of salt and the frozen peas.
  So there it is, a simple vegetable stew for a Meatless Monday. I paired it with chapattis and  Black Eyed Peas With Mushrooms.

   Badis are a great help dressing up any vegetable stew, and they can be added to almost anything.They're easily available at any Indian or Asian market or online, and they keep. Always a plus around my house.
   Coming up next, a trick with inexpensive cucumbers that comes just in time for all of those end of Summer pot luck parties and barbecues. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


  1. Bad bad woman! Now that the soy sauce didn't work out for me you got me thinking about making Badi. Does it smell?

    Love the picture of the falling peas!

  2. I've never heard of badis. I get banana leaves occasionally from an Asian store to grill salmon, and am out. I'll definitely pick up some badis. Thanks!

  3. So tempting. Dried dal has such a great texture to it.

  4. I have never heard of badis - but I have a great Indian grocery I visit occasionally and I will be on the lookout. This really sounds fantastic, and I do have so many veg just sitting around waiting for ... something.



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