Khitcheri, A Mung or Urad Dal and Rice Mix
Moong or Urad Dal Khichri
Khichri, also spelt as Khitchuri, Khichari Khicheri or Khichdi, is an easy dish to make. It is nutritious and a complete meal in itself. It is often made when the 'cook' is not in the mood to cook.
In my parent's house, in India, it was often made on rainy or cloudy day. In my mind, whenever I make khitchri, a picture of clouds, a gentle cool breeze and singing peacocks comes to mind. We all loved it, served with creamy natural yoghurt, Mango Pickle, Green Mango Chutney, Sweet Mango Chutney and dry-roasted papads (popodoms in the West). We often ate it sitting on a swing on the verandah.
It is a good dish for people recovering from gastrointestinal upsets, because it is not spicy and easy to digest. If used for sick people, make it with skinless moong dal, do not add chilli powder, serve it with yoghurt and avoid pickles. Also see Vegetable Khitchri. Serves 3-4
250 gm. rice, any good quality rice will do
150 gm. moong/mung split green gram lentil) or urad/urd/urid dal or black gram lentil, with skin. Ordinary red lentil will also do.
1-2 tbsp. cooking oil of choice
1 tsp. cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida (hing) optional. It is good for digestion.
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder (optional). Turmeric is good for healing.
Salt to taste
Water, twice in volume to the rice and lentil mix. See step 8
Chilli powder or 1 chopped green chilli
1 onion - peeled and sliced.
A cup of peas
A few florets of cauliflower
1 tbsp. olive or other oil
Clean, wash and drain dal and rice together.
Boil water in kettle or a separate pan.
Heat oil in a pressure cooker or a pan with a tight lid.
Add cumin seeds and asafoetida and wait until seeds sputter, not letting them burn.
Add onions, if used, and fry until golden brown. If using any other vegetables, add here.
Add rice-dal mix and stir fry for a couple of minutes. This will coat the rice and dal grains with oil.
Add salt and turmeric and give it a quick stir.
Add enough boiling water to cover the rice, and 1/2 inch above it (1 1/2 inch, if not using pressure cooker).
Bring to a brisk boil, pressure cook for 2-3 whistles or pressures*. If cooking in a pan, cover and simmer gently on a low fire, until almost all water is absorbed and rice and dal are tender.
Also see Dal Selection.
*When the pressure builds up in a pressure cooker, the steam escapes with a hiss, letting the pressure down. This counts as one whistle or pressure. Pressure builds up again and the same thing happens again and again, until you switch the heat off. In India, people usually count the number of times this happens and call them pressures or whistle. If you find it difficult to follow, for green gram/moong dal, cook for 3-4 minutes under pressure. For black gram dal/urad/urid dal, cook for 5-6 minutes, because it takes a bit longer to cook.
A tsp. of ghee on top of the khichri before serving gives it an authentic flavour
You can add a 1/4 tsp. of garam masala, along with salt and turmeric, at step 7.
Experiment with adding other vegetables.