It is the festive season. Almost all the food blogs that I have read over the past few days are full of party cooking. Elaborate meat dishes or exotic desserts.
I am however choosing to write about one of the more basic ones at this time- Khichdi. The feasting has been done with and so the focus needs to quickly turn to health. Also with the mercury dipping to 3 degrees and Delhi being colder than Shimla( if Times of India is to be believed) one needs warm, nourishing food.
As with soups, Khichdi tastes wonderful during winters. It is comfort food in most Indian homes. Yes, this is true across regions. Some version of the Khichdi exists in every home. In fact Khichdi has also the inspiration for the Anglo Indian dish Kedegree. There are ofcourse many adaptations of this basic dish including one with leftover keema.
In the East Khichdi is usually prepared as a main meal during festivals. I have happy memories of eating Khichdi with tomato chutney and baigan bhaja( shallow fried brinjal) during Ganesh puja and Saraswati puja. The same is also served as prasad at the puja pandals during Durga Puja. Despite the near absence of oil or spices the dish tastes delicious. As with all other comfort foods it is unpretentious in character, provide easy satisfaction and help us ease back into every day life.
It is a one pot meal. The rice provides the carbs, the daals provide the protein and the vegetables the vitamins/minerals etc. The tempering is subtle and no single ingredient dominates.
Rice: 1 cup
Moong Daal: 1/2 cup
Masoor Daal: 1/2 cup
Jeera: 1 tsp
Ghee: 1 tsp
Bay leaves: 2
Ginger: 1 inch, grated
Shelled Green Peas: 1/2 cup
Potatoes: 2, cubed
Salt: 1 tsp
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Red Chillies: 2/3
Roast the moong daal for a few minutes( till you get a nice aroma, take care not to brown the daal). Next take about 3/4 cups of water in a pressure cooker and let it come to a boil, add the rice and allow it to cook for a few minutes. Then add the daal, vegetables, half the grated ginger, salt, turmeric. Mix well. Cover the pressure cooker and let it give out one whistle. Switch off the cooker and allow it to cool.
Separately heat oil in a small kadai, add the jeera, red chillies, bay leaves and the remaining ginger to it. Let the jeera sputter. Add the tadka to the Khichdi. Serve immediately.
Khichdi needs to be eaten as soon as it is cooked.
Khichdi is also the first solid food that is given to babies in India. So comforting childhood memories and a sense of security is what it also provides.
Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!