A popular one-pot meal that’s cooked in just about every Indian home is a khichdi or a khichari, and those are not the only names it goes by. It’s khichuri in Bengali, pongal in Tamil, khichri in Gujarat, and kedgeree in English (yeah, as in the language spoken by the Brits). Although the Brits, somewhere in transit, made an unnecessary addition — fish — to a recipe whose vegetarian deliciousness really needs no gilding.
Today, we’ll take this recipe back to its roots but we’re going to do so with flair. A khichdi, at its most basic, is a pot of rice and lentils cooked together and it can be starkly plain (lentils, rice, salt, period). But the version I have for you today has, as the name suggests, a melange of flavorful spices and it’s enriched by the goodness of a ton of fresh vegetables. Even better, I make it with brown rice.
One of the reasons I love Masala Khichdi is that it is a true one-pot meal, not one of those dishes that pretends to be one-pot and then asks you to, erm, please serve me with this side or that or I’m just not going to taste that good! When you make a Masala Khichdi, you can rest assured that all you need is a spoon and a bowl. And if you decide to make the wise decision of serving up some poppadums alongside, well, good for you!
You can also add all kinds of veggies to the khichdi– really, use what you have on hand. I used sweet potatoes, eggplants and green peas because I had those around, but carrots and zucchini would be great here.
Before I move on to the recipe, I just wanted to say a big thank you to all of you who have written in recently to say you’ve cooked the recipes, or just to say hello. Your emails and the messages you leave on the blog are much valued and I read — and am thrilled by — each one. You inspire me to keep going and learning what you like helps shape Holy Cow!
Enjoy the recipe!
- 1½ cups brown rice
- 1 cup moong dal
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- ½ cup tomato puree or 2 medium tomatoes
- 1 sweet potato, cut into small cubes
- 1 cup green peas, frozen or fresh
- 2 Japanese eggplants, cut into small cubes
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cayenne
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1-inch knob of ginger, grated
- Salt to taste
- ½ cup finely chopped coriander or mint leaves
- If you have a pressure cooker, heat oil in the pressure cooker. Otherwise use a large saucepan.
- Add the cumin seeds and when they sputter, add the onions and curry leaves.
- Saute, stirring, until brown spots appear on the onions.
- Add the ginger and saute another minute.
- Add the tomato puree, turmeric, cayenne and coriander powder. Mix well and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomato puree darkens a couple of shades and bubbles at the corners.
- Add the vegetables. If you're using frozen peas, don't add them now.
- Add the rice and lentils.
- Mix everything well together, then add six cups of water or vegetable stock.
- If you're cooking in a pressure cooker, cover now and let the khichdi cook for 20 minutes after the cooker comes to pressure.
- On the stovetop, if not using a pressure cooker, bring the water to a boil, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook 45 minutes or until the rice and lentils are really soft. Add more water if needed at any time. You want the khichdi to have a slightly runny consistency, like a risotto. It shouldn't be too dry.
- Open the pressure cooker or pot. If you're using frozen peas, add them at this point and stir the khichdi well. Add the garam masala and salt and return the khichdi to heat to let it warm through.
- Garnish with the coriander or mint leaves.
- Serve hot.