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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Badi Tarkari

Remember the story of the ant and the grasshopper ? I am sure most of you have already read it. But for those who havn't, I am putting it in a nutshell. It is all about a hardworking ant who slaves throughout the bountiful spring to ensure that he has enough to eat throughout the harsh winter months. Everytime I read this story, I am able to relate it to some hardworking Odia lady who seems to have take a leaf out of the ant's life.

Badi tarkari used to be a regular feature of the Odia meals during the summer months when the vegetable supplies used to dry up (especially in the days before the Green revolution). The lentils dumplings are prepared during the winter months in anticipation of the scarcity during the summers. And it used to involved a lot of work. Right from the soaking of a fresh batch of black lentils to rubbing off their peels, grinding them on a stone, leavening them to make them light and finally laying out the dumplings, the whole process lasted about 15-16 hours. Whopping amount of work, isn't it ??

As I kid I used to wonder why the ladies took so much pain in the back breaking cold when the whole thing could be easily replicated throughout the year with the exception of the monsoon season. While the explanations I received as a kid ( and I was a curious one too) were rooted in religious practices and customs, I now understood the science behind it. The chilly weather is perfect for making these dumplings as it ensures that the batter does not go sour (get fermented) even as it soaks up the wintry sun-rays. Nor do the dumplings develop cracks due to excess evaportaion of moisture from the surface.

While I can recollect quite a few varieties like the Kakharu badi, rasi badi, khaee badi and masala badi being laid out on the terrace on my parental home, this recipe is prepared with the 'Kakharu badi' or ash gourd - lentil dumplings. My grandma and  mom used to cook this one with baby potatoes, shallots and a few sprigs of garlic leaves( lightly fried ) which lend it a very different flavour. But since I havn't been able to find good quality baby potatoes of late, I made them with the regular ones. Plus, I have incorporated a few changes of my own. Depending of the quantity of gravy retained, the curry can be consumed with 'pakhala' ( a watery rice preparation) or 'garam bhata' ( steamed rice ).

Read on for the recipe -

Cooking Time Required: 15-20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 large Potato
  • 10-12 shallots 
  • 1 medium sized country tomato
  • 1 cup Kakharu badi ( made with the pulp of ash gourd )
  • 4 dry red chilis
  • 1/4 tsp pancha phutana
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3-4 garlic flakes
  • 2 tsp oil
  • a pinch of turmeric ( optional but I prefer it )
  • salt to taste
  • ambula/dry mango ( optional )

Preparation: Cut the potato into medium sized cubes and keep aside. Peel the shallots and cut each one into two halves.

Grind the mustard seeds along with the garlic flakes and 2 red chillis into a fine paste. Dissolve in 1 cup water and let it stand aside.

Roast the badis ( with/without oil ) and break them if required into smaller pieces( My badi's were already broken during the flight). Keep aside.

Soak the ambula in 1/4 cup warm water.

Cooking : Heat a wok. Add 1 tsp oil. Add the shallots and stir fry till translucent. Add the potatoes at this stage and stir fry for 2 mins. Remove from wok and keep aside.

Add 1 tsp oil to the wok. Add pancha phutana and red chillis . Allow to splutter for 5-10 seconds.

Cut the tomato into 4 parts and add to the wok. Cover with a lid and allow it to soften a bit.

Carefully pour the contents of the cup into the wok while taking care to retain the black residue at the bottom of the cup . Add the fried onion-potatoes, salt and turmeric.

Cover with a lid and cook for 10 mins or till the potato is almost done. Add the ambula along with the crushed badi at this stage. Cook for 1-2 mins more.

Remove from fire and allow to stand for 5 mins.

Serve with rice and dal or Pakhala.

DO check out another delicious Badi recipe from Sundargarh district Badi Phulaa .


  1. my fav with piping hot steamed rice!

    US Masala

  2. Dear AOF(I wish you had a pen-name ( Chhadma-nama), so that I cd address you properly.ha ha )
    I like this recipe.
    I am excited to tell you that I am travelling to Orissa after many decades and will visit my birth place, school , college and all. Friends are getting ready to treat me with my favorite Oriya food..WIll get some good BaDi from Cuttack.
    Have a nice weekend

  3. Hi there. please share the khaee badi recipe.


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