Happy New Year, everyone! I hope that everyone had a beautiful holiday season as well. I’ve always found that the end of the year goes by unbelievably quickly. It starts with the fun and sweet treats of Halloween, the deliciously spiced desserts of Thanksgiving, all the Christmas cookies, and the over the top indulgence of New Year’s Eve. But then, the new year arrives, and the dreariness of winter starts. Maybe I only say this because my winters have exclusively been spent in Chicago and Portland (which according to this list are in the 13th and 17th worst states respectively for worst winters in the country) but January is when the cold and the wet really start to feel like a drag. There’s no fun holidays to look forward to and the weather shows no signs of turning around quickly. During this time of the year, I like nothing better than to tuck into a warm bowl full of delicious comfort like this khichdi, a wonderful blend of spices, rice, and lentils. And after all of the indulgence of the last few months, it doesn’t hurt that it is quite healthy too!
Khichdi, also spelled khichari, is a ubiquitous and classic Indian dish. According to Curry, one of my favorite books on the history of Indian food (which if you haven’t read, please please please do), it was a favorite of the Mughal emperors as far back as the 1500s. Khichdi is also the basis for the British dish kedgeree. There are variations in almost every part of the country, each with their own unique spices and flavors. Some recipes use split moong beans, or moong dal, and others use split pigeon peas, or toor dal. But however it is made, the basic proportions are very similar with equal parts rice and lentil and a blend of spices both fresh and dried. This version that we make in my family is distinctly Gujarati. We use split pigeon peas–toor dal–in equal amounts with short grained rice. Our aromatics are simple and easy to find: just cinnamon, clove, black peppercorn bloomed in ghee with some ginger and crushed jalapeno. Then, in go the soaked rice and toor dal with plenty of water, and after a quick boil, it’s ready to eat. You can have it plain, with a fried egg, with some delicious leftovers, or you can do what my family does and whip up a batch of sweetened yogurt to dollop on top. It sounds strange but is totally delicious! You could also, of course, pair it with almost any savory preparation in the Indian recipes section of the blog. I hope you enjoy this bowl of delicious comfort as much as my family has over the years, especially during this blustery time of year!
Spiced Lentil Rice ~ Khichdi
|Prep:||Cook:||Yield: Serves 6||Total:|
A ridiculously easy, deliciously comforting, and super healthy spiced lentil rice. This classic Indian recipe is equal parts lentils and rice and enhanced with lots of warm spice.
- Soak the rice and the toor dal in tepid water for a few hours. The dal should triple in size. Rinse thoroughly and drain the water. Set aside. If you don't have time to soak, the recipe will still work, but the cooking may take longer.
- In a large saucepan, heat the ghee over medium high heat until it just starts to shimmer. Add the cinnamon, cloves, black peppercorn, ginger, and minced jalapeno and stir well until the ginger is toasted and the spices are aromatic. Add the drained dal and rice, turmeric, and a few pinches of salt to the pan and stir well to combine. Add enough water to cover the rice and dal by about 1 inch (about 3-4 cups) and stir. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer until the rice is fully cooked and the dal is soft and tender, about 15-20 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Goes well with sweetened yogurt (mix 1 cup yogurt with 1-2 tsp honey or sugar) and a wide variety of dishes, see the article above.
Be sure to remove the large spices when eating! I personally love eating the black peppercorn, but find the clove a bit overwhelming.
Can be made vegan by using oil instead of ghee.