Khichdi is a favourite comfort food in India, reminding one of home when one is away. It is a one-pot meal made from rice and dal usually but some make it with vegetables too. The split version of pulses like lentils, peas, mung beans, are usually used. There are two types of it, one firm and the other softer version is served when one is sick, has an upset stomach, needs some comfort food or wants to eat light yet filling. I hated it as a kid when my mom forced it down my throat when I was ill and once I grew up, I fell in love with the dish. The drier version is usually made on lazy rainy days. This easy-to-digest rice dish is simple, delicious, and oh so satisfying.
Every family makes khichdi and the taste and style of cooking differ depending on the ingredients used and the method too. But the basic khichdi I know is made from white rice, yellow, green or split moong dal and tempered with ghee. All these ingredients have healing properties and soothe our digestive system. It is a wholesome meal in itself and tastes best when accompanied by its 4 friends; yoghurt, poppadum, clarified butter and pickle. Khichdi ke chaar yaar; dahi, papad, ghee, achar!
Freshly-cooked khichdi eaten with a drizzle of pure cow’s ghee provides the right amount of nutrients, carbohydrates, protein and fat. Khichdi is easy to digest and is soothing for the intestine and helps in settling an upset stomach when eaten with curd. I used to feed my babies freshly made mashed khichdi instead of the tinned baby food. My dad too loved having khichdi when he had lost all his teeth!
The cooked rice and dal is tempered with cumin and black pepper powder. Cumin, also known as jeera is said to have medicinal properties and has been used to treat digestion, blood pressure and heart rate, etc. Since ancient times, black pepper is one of the most widely traded spices in the world. The dried peppercorn is ground into a powder to be put on food to add flavour and spice. It is very good for the stomach and facilitates digestion.
Recipe for Punjabi Khichdi
1 cup rice
½ cup moong dal or split green gram
4 cups water
2 tbsps of cow ghee
1 tsp cumin or jeera
½ tsp black pepper powder.
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves
Wash the rice and dal. In a pan add the rice, dal, salt and the water and let them cook till nice and soft.
For the tempering melt the ghee in a frying pan. Use medium heat. Add the cumin seeds. Once they start to sizzle nicely add the black pepper powder.
Now pour this tadka or tempering over the cooked khichdi. Mix well, and serve the khichdi hot accompanied with cold yoghurt, pickle, papad and a fresh drizzle of ghee over the individual serving.
Garnish with cilantro (coriander leaves) if you like.
Wash the rice and dal and keep aside.
Take a deep pan or pressure cooker. Melt the ghee and once hot add the cumin seeds and once they splutter add the black pepper powder.
Now add the washed rice, dal and salt and sauté for a few seconds. Add the water and cook the khichdi until nice and soft. If you are cooking in a pressure cooker then cook till you get 4 whistles.
Serve Moong Dal Khichdi, hot and garnished with fresh coriander leaves.