I’ve been feeling a bit off weather the past few days, having strained my right arm to the maximum with all the typing and keyboard bashing that I indulge in. Add to that the moody weather – at times cloudy, at times scorching – and I am feeling down in the dumps. At such times it’s comfort food that the body and soul crave.
Cue in lots of khichdi – sometimes with kadhi, or roasted fish, or vegetable fritters or just some achaar. Khichdi, after all, is the hug in a bowl.
As a Bengali growing up in Gujarat, I’ve had my share of khichdi at Bengali and Gujarati households. And the tastes varied in each household! Take for instance the recipe for the Bengali khichdi in Comfort in a Bowl of Khichuri and the recipe for harepyaaz ki lehsuni khichdi (spring onion and garlic khichdi) that was given by the proprietor of a restaurant.
In a country with 29 states, each with a version of khichdi which is made in different ways at different homes – can you imagine the mindboggling types of this rice-lentil savoury porridge that India has?
Is that what prompted the beginning of Urban Khichdi, I wondered, as I walked into a new food venture in Ahmedabad that promises to satisfy your khichdi cravings.
For owner Preet Kadia, staying away from home resulted in the realisation that all the pizzas and pasta aside “there is nothing more comforting than dal-chawal (Indian lentils & rice) and khichdi.”
This was the thought that got the young chap of taking khichdi to the fine dining arena with a touch of the old school charm. “This food is wholesome and connects everybody irrespective of which part of the country one belongs to. When you come to my khichdi place, you feel at home. It doesn’t matter if you are a Punjabi gorging on Gujarati Vaghareli Khichdi or a Gujarati eating Dal Khichdi. There is an instant connect,” he points out whilst sharing the tale of how he set up Urban Khichdi despite a large number of naysayers.
For those who came in late, the khichdi is a prominent dish in Indian households. Made with rice and lentils, it is among the most nutritious and affordable food. It was the khichdi that inspired the world-famous kedgeree. Khichdi is believed to be a 100% Indian dish, with mentions in the works of Greek scholars and Russian adventures dating before the 15th century.
Khichdi is something that you can never go wrong. Be it with fewer spices or salt – the satisfaction is immense and unbeatable, Preet explained during a covered and watched-carefully step into the kitchen where the chef whipped up some mouth-watering harepyaaz ki lehsuni khichdi (spring onion and garlic khichdi). Mesmerised with the manner in which the khichdi was made and the way it tasted, I asked to be taught the way to make one among the 34 types of khichdi served at the restaurant.
“I’ll give you the basic idea of how to make it. You’ll need to adjust the spices as per your taste,” he said. Preet refused to (obviously!) part with the ‘magic mantra’ that makes the khichdi dishes such a delight – he serves Indian versions like the Panchkuti khichdi (five lentil khichdi), Malabari khichdi (coconut-based) and Sai Bhaji khichdi (a Sindhi delicacy) along with several global crockpots.
But he gave me the basics of the harepyaaz ki lehsuni khichdi (spring onion and garlic khichdi) that I tried at home under Maa’s experienced eye. Not as lip-smacking as the restaurant version but it was worth a mention and share! Do walk into this ‘khichdi-dedicated’ space for a nostalgic food journey.
Fresh spring onions and a generous dose of garlic add a distinct flavour to the humble khichdi, a rice & lentil savoury porridge.
- 3/4 cup Basmati Rice
- 3/4 cup Tuvar dal / Split Pigeon Peas
- 1 cup Spring Onion (finely chopped)
- ½ cup Onion (finely chopped)
- 5-6 Garlic Cloves (finely chopped)
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
- 1½ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- ¾ tablespoon Asafoetida
- ½ teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
- 4 tablespoons Ghee
- Salt (to taste)
- Mix the rice and dal; wash thoroughly and set aside. (If you have time on hand, you can soak the rice-lentil mix in water for 30 minutes or more. This hastens the cooking process.)
- In a big vessel, pour in the washed rice, lentil and add 4 cups of water.
- Add salt, ¾ teaspoon turmeric powder and allow it to cook on low flame.
- Add the chopped onion and garlic to the hot ghee and sauté till slightly translucent.
- Mix in the garam masala, remaining turmeric powder, chilli powder, asafoetida and sauté for a minute.
- Add ¾ cup chopped spring onion to the mix and cook on low flame for a few minutes.
- Add this mix to the cooked khichdi.
Stir well, ensuring the spices are mixed with the cooked khichdi.
- Check the seasoning, adjust and bring the khichdi to a boil.
- Switch off, pour a tablespoon of ghee on top, sprinkle the remaining chopped spring onion and serve piping hot.
- The khichdi can be made using rice of your choice. Preet uses the ‘ponya basmati’, a broken grain. At home, we generally opt for the readily available basmati rice. Experts recommend using rice that smells good to enhance your experience.
- If the khichdi is a bit tight – as it was in my case – add some hot water to make it a little loose.
- If reheating to binge on later, add some hot salt water to the khichdi before popping it into the microwave.
Check out https://m.facebook.com/644499739234011 for more on Urban Khichdi. This post has been done in collaboration with Urban Khichdi, Ahmedabad. All views expressed are purely the author’s and not sponsored.