The story of lentil would not be complete without mention of the eponymous “Kichdi”, the Indian rice and lentil combinations. I am sure there will be as many recipes of this preparation as the number of home cooks which clearly means that people love this easy to digest and easy to prepare recipe.
The writings of 15th century suggest its origin in India when there were also the recipes containing meat as is found in offerings during the prayers of Goddess Kali. One of the varieties containing prawns is also very popular in Western India. Kichdi is also the source of inspiration of popular variation called “Kedgerre” which contains haddock and boiled egg and is found all across UK. Kichdi of the summer season are less thick than that of winter which contains more vegetables also to provide richness to counter the extremely cold nights.
Kichdi – the regional variations
Though it is popular both in India and Pakistan and in some parts of the world, it is worthwhile to look at some of the popular variations found elsewhere in different Indian states. The one served in Bengal is accompanied with Chokha (Potato hash), Begun Bhaja (Aubergine fry), chutney, papad and pickle. The gruel itself contains the seasonal vegetables like cauliflower, potato, green peas, spinach, spring onion etc. which make the entire preparation full of nutrition and taste. While it is rich delicacy found in the region of West Bengal and even fit to be offered during all the important occasions including festivals, in other parts of India it reincarnate itself as the food of the invalids and sick. Rice and lentil are cooked together until completely amalgamated and mushy and seasoned to appear as a very bland and ordinary cousin of the rich and suave Bengali delicacy.
Kichdi on its own as a main course is a very good source of carbohydrate, protein and vitamins if prepared with vegetables and essential minerals and at the same time very easy to digest.
Preparation time: 30minutes
Cooking time: 30minutes
1 Cup broken basmati rice, washed and soaked for 30 minutes
½ medium cauliflower
½ cups shelled peas
1 medium carrot
6-8 baby potatoes
1 Bay leaf
Chopped coriander leaves, for garnish
Drain lentils and rice separately and keep aside.
In a manual mortar and pestle crush cardamom, cinnamon and cloves lightly.
For the vegetables:
Cut the cauliflowers in small florets, peel and chop the onions, peel and dice the carrot, peel the potatoes and submerge in water to prevent discoloration.
Heat about three quarters of ghee in a heavy bottom vessel, add cumin seeds, bay leaf and crushed spices and fry until lightly colored and aromatic. Add onion and sauté for 3-5minutes until lightly browned. Next add grated ginger and grated garlic and continue cooking until raw aroma of ginger-garlic has disappeared.
At this stage, add cauliflower, drained potatoes, carrot and green peas and continue frying for 5-7 minutes until vegetables are lightly fried and light brown. Add lentil and rice and gently fry on medium heat for 2-3 minutes until all the grains are nicely coated with ghee and shiny. Add turmeric and hot spice powder and stir in to mix well. Pour in water and bring the entire mixture to boil, reduce to simmer and cover with a lid. Stir from time to time to prevent sticking to bottom. Check the gruel for doneness after most of the water is absorbed and kichdi is of porridge consistency. Check seasoning and garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves. Just before serving stir in the remaining 1tbsp of ghee extra flavor.
Serve hot immediately with pickle, chutney and papad.
Tags: curries, chana, tandoori, tandoor, kulfi, dosa, handi, vindaloo, palak, indian curry