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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Moong dal Khichadi with Spicy and Sweet Curried Onion and Peppers

Khichadi is staple food of Kutch, it is served with Kadhi (yogurt curry) Bajra na rotla (made from Pearl Millet flour, hand flattened bread, cooked on clay skillet) and Papadum. Earlier, I had posted another recipe for Khichadi with kadhi on this blog. (Khichdi and Kadhi: The Soul food of India).

This one is more simple and typical of the Kutchi recipe. My husband likes it with this spicy and sweet curried green pepper and onion sabji. Khichadi is simple food, easy to digest and easy to make. People from Kutch are simple hard working people and coincidentally my parents are from Kutch.

The main purpose of this blog is to pass on the recipes to my children, and I would like them to know about our heritage. Therefore before posting this recipe I will write little bit about Kutch and its history. If you don't care to read about Kutch you can just skip few paragraphs and go directly to the heading "recipe" below.

Kutch district (also spelled as Kachchh) is district of Gujarat state in western India. Covering an area of 45,612 km², it is the largest district of India.

Kachchh literally means something which intermittently becomes wet and dry; a large part of this district is known as Rann of Kachchh which is shallow wetland which submerges in water during the rainy season and becomes dry during other seasons.

The same word is also used in the languages of Sanskrit origin for a tortoise and garments to be worn while having a bath. The Rann is famous for its marshy salt flats which become snow white after the shallow water dries up each season before the monsoon rains.

Kachchh is virtually an island, as it is surrounded by the Arabian Sea in the west; the Gulf of Kachchh in south and southeast and Rann of Kachchh in north and northeast.

The languages spoken predominantly in Kachchh is Kachchhi and to lesser extent Gujarati, Sindhi, and Hindi. Script of Kachchhi language has become extinct and it is mainly written in the Gujarati script.

Samples of Kachchhi script are available in Kutch Museum. Increased use of Gujarati language is mainly because of being it a medium of instruction in schools. Often Kachchhi language is mistaken as dialect of Gujarati, however this is not true. Kachchhi language bears more grammatical similarity with Sindhi and words with Gujarati.

Kutch district is inhabited by various groups and communities. Many of these have reached this region after centuries of migration from neighbouring regions of Marwar (Western Rajasthan), Sindh, Afghanistan and further.

Even today, one can find various nomadic, semi nomadic and artisan groups living in Kutch.Some communities came from Sind,(mostly Kutchi speaking Lohanas, Vhatiyas, Khatris..)and some from Saurashtra. (Gujarati speaking-Sorathiya, Ahir, Girnara..) Many migrated from north Gujarat, especially in Vagad region(Gujarati speaking- Prajapati)

The major groups such as the Lohana, Bhatia, Kapdi, Khumbar, Jadeja, Gadhvi, Darbar, Kathis, Rajputs, Mali Samaj, Leva Patel, Kadva Patel, Brahmins, Nagar Brahmins, Nandwana Brahmins, Khatris, Rabaris, Rajgor, Shah, Bhanushali, Jains (Visa and Dasa Oswal), Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas, Mistris, Kharwa, Meghwals, Wankars, Vankaras, Ahirs, and many others have adopted a settled lifestyle and have struck a life rhythm close to that of modern-day towns.

The majority of the population is vegetarian. Jains, Buldhmins and some other caste perform strict vegetarianism. Jains also refrain from eating "kandmool" food grown below the ground such as potatoes, garlic, onion, suran, etc.

In the villages, staple foods include bajra and milk; bajara na rotla with curd and butter milk is very common food for all the Gujarati people. Bajra (Millet) was introduced by a brave king of this region named Lakho Fulani. During his period of exile, he came to know about this grain in some tribal regions.

They also extensively drink buttermilk during lunch. Milk is considered to be sacred food and offering it to somebody is considered a gesture of friendship and welcoming. Settlement of dispute invariably follows offering milk to each other as a concluding remark. In the Kutchi engagement ceremony, the bride's family offers milk to the groom's relatives as a symbol of accepting their relationship.

Tea is the most popular drink in this region and is enjoyed irrespective of sex, caste, religion or social status. Tea stalls where groups of people chat over tea are invariable sights of every village or town entrance from early morning to late evening. Most people drink it with milk and sugar. Offering black tea to guests is considered to be a bad gesture. Tea without milk is offered when people are visiting host to mourn death of relatives. Tea was introduced in this region by the British as part of medicinal purpose to counteract the plague epidemic in the early 19th century.

Recipe: This recipe yield 6 servings.

Ingredients For Khichadi

1 cup Moong dal with Chilka (split moong bean with skin)

1/2 cup rice

3 cups water

2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1/4 teaspoon asafetida powder

2 tablespoon of butter or Ghee

Method to make Khichadi:

* Mix, wash rice and moong dal thoroughly.

* Add water, salt and spices and pressure cook for 15-20 min.

* While you are pressure cooking the Khichadi, you can prepare the curried onions and peppers as follows.

Ingredients for curried green pepper and onions:

2 yellow onions

2 green peppers (capsicums)

6-7 spicy green chillies or 4-5 Jalapeno peppers

1/3 cup of Jaggery **

3 tablespoons of Coriander powder

2 tablespoons of Mango powder

1 tablespoon of Cayenne pepper powder

1 tablespoon of Paprika powder

1 teaspoon of Turmeric powder

2 tablespoon of oil

1 teaspoon of Cumin seeds

1 teaspoon of Black mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon of Fenugreek seeds

1/4 teaspoon of asafetida

1/2 cup of water

2 tablespoons of Lemon or lime juice (optional)

Method to make the curried Onions and green pepper:

* Chop onions and green pepper in to big chunks or slices

* Slit the green chillies or jalapenos length wise.

* Thinly slice the Jaggery.

* Heat oil in a pan.

* When oil is heated, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and fenugreek seeds.

* When these crackle, add asafetida, immediately followed by onions and peppers.

* Saute for one minute.

* Add all the spices and Jaggery.

* Mix well, add water and cook for 2-3 min or until Jaggery is melted. Do not over cook, as you want some crunch in the veggies and onions.

* If you wish you can add some lemon or lime juice to the curried onions and peppers.

Serving Instructions:

* Cool the cooker with cooked the Khichadi.

* Open carefully, add 2 table spoon of butter or Ghee to the Khichadi and mix well.

* Serve hot with side of above curried onions/peppers, Papadam and green onions and side of buttermilk seasoned with roasted cumin seeds powder(recipe on this blog).

This Reminds me of my grandma's house in Kutch when she used to call us for dinner "halo jamela"

** Jaggery (also transliterated as jaggeree) is a traditional unrefined non-centrifugal whole cane sugar consumed in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. It is a concentrated product of cane juice without separation of the molasses and crystals, and can vary from golden brown to dark brown in color. It contains up to 50% sucrose, up to 20% invert sugars, moisture content of up to 20%, and the remainder made up of other insoluble matter such as wood ash, proteins and bagasse fibers. Jaggery is made of the products of both sugarcane and the palm tree

Information on Kutch Source:

Information on Jaggery Source:

Recipe and Photographs by Surekha.

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