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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Khichdi and Kadhi: The Soul food of India

Every house hold has several recipes of Khichdi, using different daals (lentils) with rice, from very plain and bland version to spicy version. I am going to give you my recipe of spicy version of Khichdi. This is entirely different than that of what my mom and my granny used to make. That used to very plain, and I feel that often time people like my sister learn to hate the Khichdi due to is plainness and because they have never tried my spicy version. Now if you are going to serve the Khichdi to a baby or an ill person, you may want to avoid all the spices and just use rice, moong dal, salt and turmeric powder, and serve with a touch of butter or Ghee.

Khichdi differs in consistency, spice level and texture, depending on the occasion and who it is being served to. It’s likely to be mushy and bland for someone who’s ill, or as a starter solid for a baby.

I am going to give you two recipes in this post. One for Khichdi and another one for Kadhi, which is a common accompaniment with Khichadi where I came from.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about this soul food of India.

The word khichrī is derived from Sanskrit khichā, a dish of rice and pulses (lentils). Khichdi is described in the writings of Afanasiy Nikitin, a Russian adventurer who traveled to the Indian subcontinent in the 15th century. Khichri was very popular with the Mughals, especially Jahangir. Ain-i-Akbari, a 16th century document, written by Mughal Emperor, Akbar’s vizier, Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, mentions the recipe for khichdi, which gives seven variations. There is an anecdotal story featuring Akbar, Birbal and khichri.

Khichdi is commonly served with another Indian dish called kadhi. Other common accompaniments are papadam, raw onions, beguni (deep fried eggplants in a besan batter), ghee (clarified butter), achar (oil based pickle), and yogurt.

Khichri is a very popular dish across Pakistan, northern India, eastern India and Bangladesh. The dish is widely prepared in many Indian states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Bengal (where it is called Bengali: khichuri). Vegetables such as cauliflower, potato, and green peas are commonly added. In Bengali tradition it is customary to cook khichuri on rainy days. It is also traditional in Bengal to cook khichuri for lunch at the Saraswati Puja during the month of February—the invocation of the goddess of learning—and for other popular pujas such as Durga Puja.

Khitchuri is traditional diet and daily meal of Kutchi people and they can make several variety of dishes using Kitchari.

While khichuri is cooked as a rather rich gourmet delicacy in Bengal, it is cooked very differently in northern and western India, where it is considered a very plain bland dish usually served to people who are ill. Khichdi is also the first solid that babies are introduced to. Rice and lentils are simmered till mushy, seasoned with turmeric and salt, and fed to infants to introduce them to "adult" food. Khichri is also popular in Pakistan where it is considered a light dish that can be served to sick people. It is especially cooked for children and people with stomach problems as it is easily digestible compared to other Pakistani dishes which usually have meat and are also spicy. Although it has a similar name, khichra is actually a variation of haleem and is not to be confused with khichdi.

Khichri is also a favorite campfire food, owing to the convenience of being able to cook the dish in a single simmering pot.

Khichdi, when well cooked with a little oil, is considered a light and nutritious dish, and is especially popular amongst many who follow an ayurvedic diet or nature cure.

Khechidi is very popular in Odisha. There are varieties of khechidi in Odisha like adahengu khechidi (garlic-asafoetida khichdi), moong dal khichdi, etc. Adahengu khechidi is a popular dish in the Jagannath Temple as well. At home, moong dal khechidi and other khechidis are served with pampad, pickle, curd, aaloo bharta, or baigan bharta and chutney.

Khichri is also very popular in Bihar. It is made with rice, dal, and garam masala, cooked into a semi-paste like consistency and eaten with lots of ghee, baigan ka bharta, aaloo ka bharta (mashed potato with onions, green chilli, salt and mustard oil), tomato chutney (blanched tomato, onion, green chilli, grated ginger and mustard oil), pāpaṛ, tilori (a fried snack), and mango pickle. It is customary to eat khichdi every Saturday in Bihar, and also at dinner during Makar Sankranti.

Bisi Bele Bath or "Hot Lentil Rice" is famous variant of Kichdi from Karnataka, a state in Southern India. Pongal, a dish similar to khichri, is popular in Southern India, primarily in Tamilnadu. It is primarily made of rice and lentils, and seasoned with black pepper, cumin, and cashews.

These recipes yields about 4-6 servings.

Ingredients For Khichdi:

1 cup rice

2 cups Toor daal (Split pigeon Peas) You can use Moong daal if you prefer its easily digestive quality)

2 small onions

5-6 pods garlic chopped

1 cup thawed frozen peas

1 cup thawed frozen corn kernels

1 cup chopped carrots (I used chopped baby carrots0

1 small peeled and chopped potato (optional, this time I did not use it)

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 table spoon butter or ghee

1 table spoon vegetable oil (I used olive oil)

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 (2") stick of cinnamon

6 black pepper corn

2 bay leaves

6 cloves

1/4 teaspoon of asefetida

1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

3 and 1/2 cup of water

2 teaspoon of salt

Method to make Khichadi:

* Mix rice and lentils together.

* Wash them both in water with hands rubbing the rice and lentils until water is clear.

* Soak them in water while you prepare the spices.

* Chop onions in to thin slices.

* Heat a frying pan, add butter and oil.

* When butter/oil is hot, add cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, peppercorn and cloves.

* When these crackle, add asafetida followed by onions slices and chopped garlic.

* Saute until onions are caramelized.

* Add peas, corn, chopped carrots and finely chopped potatoes pieces.

* Drain all water out of lentils and rice.

* Add rice and lentil in to the above mix of veggies.

* Saute this mix for 30 sec.

* Water and transfer the contents in to pressure cooker container.

* Add salt, cumin powder and turmeric powder.

* Mix well.

* Cover the container and place it in pressure cooker.

* Cook the Khichdi in Pressure cooker for 15-20 min (6 whistles, if you have whistle pressure cooker).

* Let the pressure cooker cool and once all the steam is out, open it just before serving.

* Serve hot Khichdi with Kadhi, chopped fresh onions mixed with chopped cilantro, spicy garlic paste, desired Indian pickle and papadam. If you wish you may serve chapati with this for bread portion of meal.

* While you are cooking the Khichdi in pressure cooker. You can prepare the Kadhi as follows:

Ingredients for Kadhi:

2 cups of plain yogurt

5 cups of water

1/4 cup of gram flour

1 teaspoon of Fenugreek (methi) seeds

1 sprig of Curry leaves

1 Serrano pepper slit in fours

1" piece of ginger sliced

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1 teaspoon of coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon of cayeene pepper

Salt to taste

1 tables spoon of sugar

Ingredients For Tadka:

1 table spoon of vegetable oil

1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds

4-5 cloves

1/4 teaspoon of asafetida

Few extra curry leaves for tadka

3 pods of dried red chilies

1 tbl spoon of chopped cilantro leaves for garnish.

Method to prepare kadhi:

* Mix water and yogurt and whisk it until well blended.

* Add gram flour and whisk it some more until there are no lumps.

* Add fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, slit Serrano pepper, ginger slices, coriander powder, turmeric powder, cayenne pepper powder and salt.

* Mix well.

* Heat above liquid mixture on stove on medium heat initially then to medium -low heat with stirring intermittently for 20 min or until the fenugreek seeds are soft. (need to watch this, because can boil over if left unattended and unstirred).

* Once everything is well incorporated in this liquid mixture with light yellow color, add sugar and turn the heat off.

Method to prepare Tadka:

* Take a small frying pan, or Tadka container (these are cute small container for tadka for this purpose only that you can buy from Indian store)

* Heat this on low heat (since it is small it does not take long to heat this)

* Add oil.

* When oil is hot, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, chili pods, curry leaves and when these crackle add asafetida, turn the heat off.

* Carefully remove this from stove and pour it over the Kadhi liquid.

* Mix well.

* Garnish with Chopped cilantro leaves.

* Kadhi is ready to be served with Khichdi along with accompaniment of chopped raw onions, spicy garlic paste (recipe on this blog), desired Indian pickles and roasted papadum (just buy the ready made papadam from Indian store and roast it at home believe me you don't want to know the recipe for papadam).

Enjoy :)

Hint: Over all and all this is a very nutritious item, and very versatile recipe. You may want to cut down of amount of oil and butter, it want to make it low fat and add or delete the spices per your taste.

Description of Khichdi source:

Recipes of Khichdi and Kadhi by Surekha
Photograph by Surekha

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