If there is one comfort food we all agree on ( most of us, I should say), it is Khichadi / Kitchree/ khichari, a comforting mix of rice and moong daal as the star ingredients often tempered with a ghee tadka and minimal spices.The combination is so simple yet makes the food flavorful. Whoever invented this dish was a genius!
With Li'll S and I, both going through a bit of a recovery phase after a nasty bout of cough and fever, this khichari was a welcome treat to our taste buds which had fallen into a temporary coma.
While I was coughing and checking my temperature at regular intervals, I was also reading a book, 'The art of Indian vegetarian cooking' by Yamuna Devi.
It made me feel good, just reading the recipes.
Every once in a while I pick up this enormous book from the library and try something from it.
This time I tried this Khichari which is made at the Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha ( Orissa) around the time of the famous Festival of the Chariots.
This recipe takes the humble Khichari to a whole new level.
We enjoyed it with some roasted papad and pickle.
1/2 cup Basmati rice
1/2 cup Moong Daal ( Yellow, in this case)
1 tsp Turmeric ( haldi)
5 cups Water
3-4 tbsp. Ghee
2 tbsp. Raw Cashew halves
2 tbsp. Sliced raw Almonds ( I had regular almonds, which I just pounded and broke into pieces)
2 tbsp. Dry coconut 'ribbons' ( I grated some dry coconut and used it)
2 tbsp. Raisins ( I used the Golden variety)
~ 2 inch Cinnamon stick
2 tsp Cumin seeds ( Jeera)
2 Dry Red Chilies
1 tbsp. Sugar / jaggery
1/4 tsp. Asafetida
1/2 cup Green Peas ( I used frozen)
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp ghee to add towards the end
Cilantro, minced, to garnish
Wash the rice and daal in 3-4 changes of water. Stir in the turmeric, mix it well and set the daal+rice mixture.
Heat Ghee in a saucepan. One by one fry the cashews, almonds and coconut till they are a nice golden brown. Remove the nuts and coconut and now add the raisins to this mix ( do not fry the raisins) and set aside.
To the ghee in the saucepan, add the 'khada' spices, the cinnamon, cloves, cumin seeds, red chilies and the sugar. Saute till the cumin is fragrant and the sugar is caramelized, but not burnt. Add the asafetida and then the rice and daal mix.
Stir and mix everything well and saute for a couple of minutes.
Add in the water and turn up the heat to high and let it come to a full boil.
Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the sauce pan and let the khichari cook. The author recommends that the frozen peas ( thawed before use) be added towards the end, but I am not patient so I just add them before the cover and cook stage
Stir occasionally to ensure that it isn't sticking to the bottom.
Once the khichari is cooked ( the rice and daal are cooked through and are soft and mushy and the water is absorbed completely) Stir in the salt and 2 tbsp. Ghee.
Before serving add in the nuts and garnish with minced cilantro.