Bengali Vegetarian Khichri

Photo courtesy: Pradipta Deb

Ingredients

(serves 2 persons)

  • Rice 1 cup (Govinda bhog rice/milk rice/small grain rice)
  • Pulse 1 cup (preferably moong dal)
  • Ghee/clarified butter 1 table-spoonful
  • Ginger paste 1/2 table-spoonful
  • Tomatoes 1 cup (roughly chopped)
  • Green peas 1/2 cup
  • Carrots 1 large/2 small pieces (roughly chopped) – optional
  • Cauliflower 1 cup (cut into small florets) – optional
  • Bay leaf 1 or 2 leaves
  • Cloves 4-5 pieces
  • Small cardamom 3-4 pieces (lightly crush them open with something heavy for the aroma)
  • Cinnamon stick 1 medium piece
  • Dry red chili 2-3 pieces (thinly sliced)
  • Cumin seeds 1 tea-spoonful
  • Paprika/chili powder according to test
  • Turmeric powder 1/2 tea-spoonful
  • Oil 2 table-spoonful
  • Salt according to test
  • Garam masala 1 tea-spoonful
  • Sugar 1 table-spoonful
  • Boiling water 4 cups

Recipe

  • Put the pan on medium heat and dry roast the moong dal. Stir continuously to avoid it from burning or browning. Roast it till they turn golden-red and release a pleasant smell.
  • Add the roasted pulse and rice (both in the same quantity for optimum taste) in a strainer and wash thoroughly. Keep it aside.
  • Put a pan on medium heat, put a table-spoonful of oil in it. Once the oil is hot, add the carrots and fry for 2 minutes. 
  • Then add the cauliflower florets and fry for another minute.
  • Add the green peas, 2 pinches of salt, and fry until everything turns light brown. Transfer the vegetables in a bowl.
  • Put a tablespoonful of oil in the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the bay leaves, cloves, crushed cardamoms, cinnamon stick, sliced red chilis, and cumin seeds. Fry them for a minute. If you can’t tolerate the heat then de-seed the chillis before slicing them, the skin will only add aroma.
  • Then add the ginger paste and fry for a minute or two.
  • Add the turmeric powder, chili/paprika powder in the pan. 
  • Add the tomatoes and saute well until the tomatoes become soft and gooey and the mixture releases oil on the sides. You may need to sprinkle water from time to time to prevent the spices from burning.
  • Add the rice and pulse mixture to it. Add the 4 cups of boiling hot water. You may need less or more water depending on the type of rice and pulse.
  • Add salt generously. Mix everything and put a lid on the pan.
  • After around ten minutes take the lid off and check if the rice and pulse are nearly done. Do this every few minutes. 
  • Once they are nearly done, add the stir-fried vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, green peas). Mix them and put the lid on for a few more minutes. If it is too dry then add more hot water as needed.
  • When everything is cooked, check if more salt is required and adjust accordingly. Then, add sugar and mix well. Do not add sugar before the rice and pulse are well cooked as sugar delays the process.
  • Simmer the heat. Then take off the lid. Add garam masala and the ghee/clarified butter. Ghee adds a nice aroma, but it can be avoided for health reasons. Cooking oil can also be replaced by ghee. Mix everything well. Cover the lid for 2 more minutes on low heat.
  • Turn off the heat. Serve it hot.
  • You can easily store it in a container in the refrigerator for three days. Heat thoroughly before consuming.

My food story

It goes the best in rainy and cold weather. Since my childhood, whenever it used to rain, my mom used to make this dish. My father and I were very fond of this preparation. Generally, it is served with some crispy fries for the best experience. It is also a very healthy and hearty option for people recovering from a long illness. After a severe liver infection and eight days of hospitalization, I could not stomach anything but this khichri. After a week of saline and hospital food, mom-made khichri tasted heavenly. Give it a try.

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