Every peasant cuisine has incredible ingenious tricks for getting a lot of nutrition out of a small amount of ingredients. –Michael Pollan
A simple dish consisting of rice and lentils, khichdi is deeply rooted in the history of the Indian subcontinent. Originally, a peasant food of rural India, it has since been reincarnated into elaborate dishes fit for royalty. Present day, amongst Indians, it holds the title as both the ultimate comfort food and a perfect plant-based source of protein. Throughout India, it is one of the first foods given to babies and long before the word “detox” became a thing here in the West, it has been Ayurveda’s answer to detoxification.
Each region of India has its own version of khichdi. In my birth province of Gujarat, it remains much like the original peasant dish and consists of no more than rice, split mung dal, a pinch of turmeric and a dallop of ghee and is always served with kadhi, a spiced, soup-like yogurt curry.
I know from experience (married to a Caucasian dude!), that the idea of a soup based on yogurt may not sound all that appetizing to most here in the West. But for Gujaratis, kadhi is as beloved a complement to rice as toor dal and is often served with plain rice alongside our toor dal.
A meal of khichdi and kadhi is normally accompanied with a vegetable curry. My favourite accompaniment is a simple spinach curry. There is something about these three dishes…. a match made in heaven!
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 cup split mung dal
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- pinch of salt (optional)
- 2 tsp ghee (or more as per preference) for serving
- Combine the rice and dal in a bowl and wash and rinse using cold water a few times.
- Drain and add to a saucepan and add 3 1/2 cups of cold water, turmeric and salt, if using.
- Cook over medium-high heat, covered and bring to a boil. (Careful, keep an eye on it as it can boil over).
- Once boiling, you can remove the cover and continue to cook until the rice and dal are cooked through. Add additional water, if required. If excess water remains, carefully, spill it out by tilting the pan over the sink while placing the cover on the pan, leaving a crack open, with the other hand. In my house, we prefer to have khichdi as dry as possible and just cooked, whereas traditionally it is slightly overcooked and on the mushy side.
- Serve hot with ghee drizzled over it.
- 400 g yogurt
- 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
- 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
- ¼ ground turmeric
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 small chili (or more or less depending on your tolerance), finely sliced and seeds removed
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
- 10-12 g garlic, finely minced
- 2.5 – 3.5 cups water
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 small clove of garlic, thinly sliced
- 10-12 curry leaves, washed and patted dry
- 2-3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
- Combine all the ingredients for the kadhi in a medium sized saucepan. Use 3 cups water for thicker consistency and up to 4 cups for thinner consistency.
- Heat over low-medium heat, stirring often, until it is just boiling. Do not go past the boiling point as this will cause the yogurt to separate and rendering it unusable.
- For tempering, heat oil in a saucepan. Add cumin seeds and allow them to crackle. Add the garlic and allow to brown slightly. Add the curry leaves and allow them to sizzle. Turn off heat. At this point, you can either pour the hot oil mixture into the yogurt mixture or pour the yogurt mixture into the saucepan with the oil. Either way, be careful as there will be some spluttering when combined.
- Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve hot with khichdi or plain rice.