There are just endless ways in which one can cook khichdi, a simple preparation of rice and lentil cooked together. I probably like all of them 🙂 There are times when I prefer the bowl of khichdi in its porridge-like consistency, flavored only with turmeric and salt, and may be asafoetida (for it helps the digestion). I guess, that is the most common version which comes to the mind of many people. Khichdi, the meal for child, or for those recovering from illness… Some people dislike it wholeheartedly for what they consider as its “bland” taste, but I think that can be attributed more to associated memories with being upset/ ill (or due to simply under-seasoning!). I do prepare khichdi porridge, and find it comforting.
Nevertheless, it was the drier, pilaf-like version which I made yesterday for lunch. It also happens to be the first thing I learned to cook. My elder sister taught it to me. It can use variety of vegetables in it, and makes a great one-pot that is a complete meal. It has rice as carbs, lentil as plant-based protein, and generous portion of vegetables can add micro-nutrients and fiber. This time, I used only kale, but you can add any other greens, onions, carrots, beans, gourds of other kinds.
The essential key to make a pilaf like khichdi is to first cook the rice-lentil-veggie mix in the pot or pressure cooker, and then add a generous tempering of garlic and other spices over it.
KALE KHICHDI PILAF
1.5 cup rice
3/4 cup of moong lentil (any other variety like pigeon pea or brown lentils would also do)
Lots of chopped kale (I used frozen, about 7-8 cups)
3 cups of water
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 pinches of asafoetida
5-6 cloves of garlic
7-8 curry leaves (optional)
2 red chillies
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1/2 teaspooon of crushed fenugreek seeds (optional)
2-3 tbspoon oil for tempering
Salt to taste
- Wash and soak rice and lentil together for at least 15 minutes.
- In a pressure cooker/ regular pot combine rice, lentils, kale, turmeric powder, salt, and a pinch of asafoetida together. Add water. Cover and cook. In case of pressure cooker, it would take about three whistles. For regular pot cooking, I guess, it would be 25-30 minutes till lentils are cooked to perfection.
- In a separate small pan heat oil. Add first crushed fenugreek seeds, when they start splattering, quickly add mustard seeds, then cumin seeds, chopped garlic, red chillies, curry leaves, pinch of asafoetida. Let everything temper till fragrant, without letting anything burn. Take off the heat.
- Add this tempering or tadaka over the pot of cooked rice, lentil, and kale. Mix everything properly and its ready to be served.
Usually, a pickle or chutney of any kind would make a nice accompaniment to it. But a well-seasoned and spiced khichdi with vegetables by itself is a whole meal in the bowl.