Khichuri is one of those rare dishes that effortlessly strides the boundary between what’s considered ‘ordinary’ and ‘special’ when it comes to cooking.
If there is one common thread linking the varied and multitudinous South Asian cuisines, it is khichuri. Essentially a porridge of rice and dal tempered with a handful of spices (that can vary from region to region), khichuri can be as plain or as rich as you want it to be. It ranges from the mild, runny, and carefully spiced version for when you are under the weather, to the steaming and slurpy one for those wistful rainy days, to the thick, gorgeous, ghee-laden offering made to your favourite goddesses during pujo.
Today’s recipe can double as an easy bhog’er khichuri, as well as a delicious, sustaining rainy-day meal. It is made with shona moong—little grains of golden moong dal commonly found in Bengal. The rice used is gobindobhog chaal, a scented, short-grained variety with which polao and payesh are also typically made.
- 200 g moong dal
- 200 g gobindobhog rice
- 200 g potatoes (5 cm chunks)
- 200 g cauliflower (5 cm florets)
- 100 g tomatoes (quartered)
- 80 g peas (blanched)
- 2 g cumin seeds
- 3 pcs cardamom (whole)
- 1 pc cinnamon (whole)
- 3 pcs cloves (whole)
- 3 pcs dried red chillies
- 4 pcs bay leaves
- 40 g ginger paste
- 40 g grated coconut
- 5 g turmeric powder
- 5 g cumin powder
- 25 g salt
- 50 g sugar
- 5 pcs green chillies (slit)
- 10 g ghee
- ½ tsp garam masala powder
- 20 g vegetable oil
- 15 g mustard oil
- 1.8 litres hot water
- Rinse gobindobhog rice thoroughly, spread it it over a colander or net, and leave it to air-dry completely.
- Cut potatoes in 5-cm chunks, cauliflower into 5-cm florets, and tomatoes into quarters. Shell and blanch the peas.
- Set a kadai on medium heat and add the moong dal to it. Dry-roast the dal for about 6 minutes or till it turns pinkish-brown giving off a nutty aroma. Stir continuously throughout to get an even roast.
- Once roasted, transfer the dal to a large bowl or saucepan, and wash it. Rinse just once; overrinsing will cause the moong dal to lose its nutty scent. Strain over a colander and set aside.
- Back in the kadai, heat 5 g vegetable oil. Add the washed gobindobhog rice to it.
- Fry the rice for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, till it takes on a glassy look. Frying activates the sweet smell of gobindobhog rice. Once done, transfer the rice to a plate; set aside.
- In the same kadai, add 15 g more vegetable oil. Fry the potatoes till they develop a golden film. Remove from oil and set aside. Add the cauliflower to the pan, fry till the florets are lightly coloured, and set those aside too.
- In a small bowl, mix the ginger paste, turmeric powder, and cumin powder with 50 g water. Keep it ready. Also set water to boil on the stove or in an electric kettle.
- Now, add 15 g mustard oil to the pan, set on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, temper it with dried red chillies, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and cumin seeds.
- Add the grated coconut. Fry for about 3 minutes until the coconut turns golden.
- Add the ginger-turmeric-cumin paste to the pan. Fry the spices on medium heat till the their raw smell is gone and oil starts oozing from the mixture. This should take about 8 minutes. If you find during this time that the mixture has run dry, add about 50 g more water and continue frying.
- Add the tomatoes, cover, and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Next, add the fried gobindobhog rice, roasted moong dal, and 2 slit green chillies. Stir them into the spices and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add 1.8 litres of hot water along with the salt. Cover the pan and allow its contents to boil for about 5 minutes. The heat should be set at low from this point onwards.
- Once the water is bubbling, add the fried potatoes and cauliflower. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Dal tends to settle at the bottom and stick to the pan, so don’t forget to stir occasionally, scraping the bottom thoroughly.
- After 15 minutes, add the sugar, blanched peas, and 3 more slit green chillies. Stir everything in and cook for 3 to 4 more minutes.
- Garnish with ghee and garam masala powder. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and allow the khichuri to rest for 2 minutes before serving.