Khichdi in its simplest form was yesterday’s dinner – because I returned late, I was feeling too tired to go in for rice, gravy and dry veggies, and because of the long power cut to top it all! It is also the best comfort food – the color is bright but not gaudy, the consistency is such that you don’t need to chew or munch on it much and it still contains everything one needs for nourishment.
In North India khichdi refers to a plain grainy concoction of rice and moong/masur/tuvar dal cooked soft with salt and seasoned with curry leaves and jeera. The Southern counterpart is the ‘pongal’ which is again rice and moong cooked soft but seasoned with roasted black pepper and jeera powder. Both the versions in its rustic forms are bland and considered ideal food when one has an attack of dysentry! Pongal or khichdi is also one of the early foods introduced to babies. It is good for the sick or aged as it does not contain fat (unless you would like to add more), and is easily digestible.These days as with everything else the basic khichdi has undergone a sea change and in restaurants what is served in the name of khichdi is spicy tuvar and rice combo with dollops of ghee and heavy seasoning!!I adhere to the bland version as I like the subtle flavor of spices. I like to have a dash of pickle as an accompaniment as it has a sharp and tangy taste that complements the bland khichdi. The best way to serve it is summarised as “khichdi ke chaar yaar. Dahi, papad, ghee, achaar”!
Recipe : Dal Khichdi | A lentil and rice preparation from North India
Rice – 1 cup
Masur dal (Red gram dal) – Approx 1/4 cup
Tuvar dal (Split pigeon peas) – A fistful
Onion – 1 medium (Sliced thin)
Curry leaves, ginger (Optional)
Garlic – 2 pods (Crushed slightly)
Bay leaf – 1/2(If big)
Cinnamon – 1″ stick
Star Anise – 1 (Optional)
Jeera – 1 tsp.
Two cashews for topping
Oil or ghee – 1 to 2 tbsp. (I used mustard oil)
Salt to taste
Mix the dals together. Cook rice and dals separately till very soft.
Heat mustard oil to smoking hot. Let cool completely. Heat again and splutter jeera. Add garlic, cashew, cinnamon, bay leaf and onions in order.
Fry till the onions turn brown.
Add the cooked rice and dal with enough water to rissotto like consistency or even more flowy if you would like. Adjust salt.
Mix well and serve hot with “dahi, papad, ghee, achaar”.
We had this with mango pickle and leftover aloo subzi. Tastes best when hot!
Verdict: If there is a ‘food for the soul’, this is it!
Updated: The USP of this dish is the mustard oil – dal and veggies like aloo-gobi, aloo-matar etc. taste yummy when seasoned in mustard oil!
The khichdi goes to Srivalli of Cooking 4 all Seasons for the Rice Mela ending 30/11!