Monday, August 23, 2004

Khichuri - Manna in the Monsoons

I have been very unwell for the past few days. I had a slight temperature, a bad tummy upset and was feeling very, very tired. I had a bad taste in my mouth and yesterday's overabundance of chicken soup did not make it any better. I wanted to eat something tasty, hot but not overtly rich. I thought today was ideal for Khichuri - Khichdi or Kedgeree Bengali style.

Khichudi, or khichdi done the bengali way with rice, lentils and veggies is popular during the monsoons, especially when accompanied with some deep fried goodies like brinjals or even fish. Traditionally, khichudi is offered to the Goddess Saraswati during Saraswati puja and that is how I was introduced to it as a little child. I have early memories of hot, steaming khichudi being served on pattals or banana leaves after the puja was over. It was often accompanied with deep fried brinjal (or aubergine) slices, tomato chutney, papads and ended with rice kheer (pudding).

Today, I rummaged about in my kitchen and found that I had everything I needed. I did not even need to chop vegetables up because I had a huge bag of frozen mixed vegetables. All I needed to do was temper the veggies, dal (lentils) and rice and let it cook in the pressure cooker. I started off with preparing the spices for tempering, namely cummin, bay leaf, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods. Then, I chopped up the onions and green chillies and then diced the potatoes. I did not need to prep the other veggies because they were already precut. I just thawed them well. Once the veggies were done, I heated some oil in a pressure cooker, added the spices to the oil and then the onions and green chillies, then I threw in the dal (lentils) and the veggies and then the rice. Then I added salt, a little turmeric powder, a teaspoon of sugar, some coriander powder, water and closed the pressure cooker. In ten minutes, my fragrant, mouth-watering khichudi was ready. This was the best meal I could have had today. I did not make any accompaniments to the khichudi today because of my upset tummy, but next time I plan to have it with fried brinjals.

The Recipe: Serves 1

Ingredients: Rice (preferably small grained rice like gobindobhog) - 3/4 cup, masoor dal (lentils) - 1/4 cup, 2 medium sized potatoes - diced, a handful of french beans - diced, 1 carrot - diced, green peas - 1 fistful, cauliflower florets - abt 1/4 cup, 1 big onion - sliced thinly lengthwise, 2 green chillies - deseeded, 1 tsp sugar, salt to taste, 1/4th tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp coriander powder, 1 tbsp cooking oil.

For the tempering: cummin - 1 1/2tsp, bay leaf - 3, cinnamon sticks - 1/2 inch and cardamom pods - 2

Method - In a pressure cooker, heat oil and add the spices for tempering, when the cummin and other spices start sizzling, add the chopped onion and green chillies, when the onion gets transparent, add the dal and keep stirring, add the veggies and the rice, stir for 2 minutes, add the sugar, salt, turmeric and coriander powder and mix, add 2 cups of water and close the pressure cooker. Turn off or take off the heat after a whistle or two. You can do this in a rice cooker too, if you do not have a pressure cooker. If you do not have a pressure cooker, do everything as described in a wok or heavy bottomed pan, then before adding water, transfer contents to a rice cooker, add the water and let it cook.

To serve, just transfer contents to your plate and dig in. This is a filling meal and you dont really need to have anything else alongwith it. However, the traditional way to enjoy khichudi is with deep fried or batter fried brinjals, hilsa fish and other veggies, papads and a chutney or two. Enjoy!


At 9:40 PM, Blogger Alvin Narsey said...

oh yes kitchiri is definately indian comfort food, with some chaas yummmy!


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