In North India khichdi refers to a plain grainy concoction of rice and moong / masur / tuvar dal cooked soft with salt and seasoned with curry leaves, dry red chillies, hing (asfoetida) and jeera. The Southern counterpart is the thick ‘pongal’ which is again rice and moong cooked soft but seasoned with roasted black pepper and jeera powder. Both, in their rustic forms are bland and considered ideal food when one has a bout of dysentry. Pongal or khichdi is also one of the early foods introduced to infants. It is good for the sick or aged as it easily digested. These days as with everything else, the basic khichdi has undergone a sea change and in restaurants what is served in the name of khichdi is spicy tuvar and rice combo with dollops of ghee and heavy seasoning. I like to have a dash of pickle as an accompaniment as it has a sharp and tangy taste that complements the bland khichdi. The best way to serve it is summarised as “khichdi ke chaar yaar – dahi, papad, ghee, achaar.”
Recipe : Dal Khichdi | A lentil and rice preparation from North India
Rice – 1 cup
Masur dal (Red gram dal) – Approx 1/4 cup
Tuvar dal (Split pigeon peas) – A fistful
Onion – 1 medium (Sliced thin)
Curry leaves, ginger (Optional)
Garlic – 2 pods (Crushed slightly)
Bay leaf – 1/2(If big)
Cinnamon – 1″ stick
Star Anise – 1 (Optional)
Jeera – 1 tsp.
Two cashews for topping
Mustard oil – 1 to 2 tbsp.
Salt to taste
Mix the dals together. Cook rice and dals separately till very soft.
Heat mustard oil to smoking hot. Let cool completely. Heat again and splutter jeera. Add garlic, cashew, cinnamon, bay leaf and onions in order.
Fry till the onions turn brown.
Add the cooked rice and dal with enough water to rissotto like consistency or even more flowy if you would like. Adjust salt.
Mix well, keeping a grainy consistency, and serve hot.
The USP of this dish is the mustard oil.