After the festive indulgence, over eating and finishing off the left overs, the body now craves for something light and comforting. Khichdi or Khichri is considered by many as a very humble dish, which some even find blah (it can actually be that, if not made well). However, it also happens to be a delicious comfort food that is a complete meal in itself. This one pot dish has everything that you would need – carbs, protein, fibre and add to that a spoon of ghee and you have the essential fats too. You can call it a holistic meal since it is a part of the saatvik diet i.e. the diet which is believed to nourish the soul, enrich and expand one’s consciousness and offer peace of mind. Although mine is not saatvik, since I love my onions and my garlic and can’t think of having the khichdi any other way. Feel free to eliminate them from the tempering if you prefer to have it the saatvik way.
There is a saying that I grew up hearing, “Khichdi ke yeh chaar yaar – ghee, chutney, papad, achaar’ which translates to – khichdi has four friends which are ghee, chutney, papad and pickle. And among these, ghee has an even more elevated status, at least in Punjab. Reminds me of another one my dad always says about khichdi – “Khichdi, ghiyo nichdi” i.e. khichdi should ooze with ghee! Having said that, there are several other accompaniments that, too, go really well with the khichdi. Moreover, each state and community has their own favourites to go with the khichdi. For instance, in Bihar it is served with chokha of different kinds but mostly the one made with roasted aubergine (eggplant) or / and boiled or roasted potatoes along with vegetable fritters called bachka. I also enjoy it with with ghee, birista and a salsa made with raw green mangoes called kuch’cha (कुच्चा) that have been diced to small pieces, sprinkled with some salt and red chili powder. So, make your own combinations or which ever way you like to enjoy the khichdi. Bengalis apparently enjoy it with begun bhaaja (aubergine fritters)
Each state or community even has its own way of making khichdi. Some use only split and skinless mung beans for it, while others prefer whole green bung beans, while some prefer a mix of different lentils. In Bihar, it is Matar Khichdi or fresh Green Pea Khichdi that is much loved. I have given the matar khichdi a little tweaking by adding lentils to it coz it not just makes it taste better but also increases its food value. In Bihar, Saturday nights are especially reserved for enjoying khichdi; no other day, mind you!
Khichdi is a preferred choice of mothers for introducing semi solid food to their infants and feeding toddlers in India. The consistency is kept thinner and it is usually served with home made yogurt or ghee. Also, it is considered ideal food for someone with an upset stomach; again, the consistency is kept thin and served with only yogurt. It is believed to sooth and comfort the digestive system.
I have provided a few suggestions for accompaniments that taste great with khichdi. Try each one and and see which ones you like best although I can assure you, it is tough to choose a favourite coz they all pair so well. I keep changing the permutation combination of accompaniments each time I make khichdi. I believe it is accompaniments that help elevate the experience of enjoying the humble khichdi and turn it into a feast 😊
½ C Rice (I always use Gobind bhog rice which I also prefer for making Kheer)
2 tbsp Skinless Mung Beans (Moong Dhuli)
2 tbsp Split Pigeon Peas (Arhar/ Toor Dal)
¾ C Green Peas (fresh or frozen)
3 tsp Cooking Oil
½ tsp Cumin Seeds (Jeera)
1 Bay Leaf (Tej Patta)
2 Whole dried Red Chilies
½ tsp finely chopped Ginger
¾ tsp finely chopped Garlic
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
½ tsp Red Chili Powder (adjust heat)
1½ tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Salt (or to taste)
½ tsp Garam Masala
3½ C to 4 C Water
2 tbsp finely chopped Fresh Green Coriander/ Cilantro
Wash the rice, mung beans and split pigeon peas in plenty of water at least two to three times. Throw away excess water and soak the contents in plenty of water for fifteen to twenty minutes. Set aside.
Wash the peas and set aside.
Sieve the rice along with lentils (both dals) and drain excess water. Set aside.
Heat oil in the pressure cooker and add whole red chili along with cumin seeds and bay leaf.
Once the cumin seeds begin to crackle, tip in the onion, ginger and garlic.
Saute till the onions begins to turn golden brown in colour along with ginger and garlic.
Add rice–dal mixture along with green peas and saute for ten to fifteen seconds on high heat.
Add water and stir well. Bring the contents to a boil and place the lid on the pressure cooker.
Cook on high heat till the pressure cooker releases two pressure whistles. Switch off the heat and allow the pressure to release on its own.
Let the khichdi sit in the pressure cooker for five more minutes (after the pressure has been released on its own) before you open the lid.
Stir the contents and adjust the consistency of the khichdi. If you find the khichdi to be thick for your liking, add some more water and bring the contents to a boil and then switch off the heat.
Sprinkle the chopped coriander and serve it with the accompaniments of your choice and enjoy!
SERVES – 2 – 3
Note – I sometimes drizzle over a tempering of ghee, Kashmiri lal mirch and finely chopped garlic (fried to golden brown) over individual portions of the khichdi before serving.
Note – The ratio of rice to water can vary since each rice has its own character of how much it swells upon cooking. You may have to adjust the consistency accordingly.
Papad (I served mine with sun dried Masala Beetroot Chips – not sponsored)
Baingan Chokha (Mashed Aubergine / Eggplant)
Raw Green Mango Salsa (check second paragraph at the beginning of the post for recipe)
Birista (crisp fried onions)
Raita (Yogurt mixed with additives of your choice)
Note – The khichdi is meant to be served hot and immediately upon getting cooked.
Note – The ratio of dal to rice and that of peas can be adjusted to suit your taste.
Note – For a thinner consistency, increase the amount of water by three fourth cup or more.
Note – If you find it thin, let it sit for some more time. However, in case you intend to serve it immediately and do not want to wait for it to thicken on its own, then boil it for some more time to thicken the contents and serve immediately.
Note – Keep in mind that the khichdi thickens as it sits so adjust the consistency accordingly.