Rediscovering a wonderful ceramic oven dish with lid, it was put to use cooking another kitchari, this time made with red rice. Most Indian and some Asian groceries will stock red rice. There are many varieties from India, Sri Lanka and Bali for example. Red rice is a very healthy rice – I have used Rosa Matta rice from Kerala in this recipe.
Surprisingly, the combination of urad and red rice in a kitchari dish has its origins in Korea, but I have made it more Indian than Korean. It is not a traditional Indian kitchari, but is very tasty, and can be cooked on the stove top, in the oven or in a slow cooker.
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Kitchari is made in different ways in different parts of India, sometimes it’s made thin and soupy, sometimes a little thicker like a porridge, in some parts it’s made almost like a pulao. It depends on the rice used, and also amount of water you add, the cooking time and the amount of water that can evaporate from the pan whilst cooking. Also different lentils can be used with rice in kitchari, although the most common is mung dal as it is the most digestible dal.
In homes in South India, mostly a short grained rice is used, like sona masoori, is used to give a porridge like consistency, but in the North it can be a longer grained rice which gives a more pulao-like result. Ayurveda also recommends the long grained basmati rice, as it is more digestible. This recipe uses a red rice. You can vary its cooking time and method to be more like a pulao, but can also be cooked longer to be porridge like or for a shorter time to be more soup-like.
Urad and Red Rice Kitchari
Take 1 cup Indian, Sri Lankan or Asian Red Rice and 3/4 cup white Urad, either whole or split, with grated ginger, turmeric, ajwain and Indian Bay Leaves (teja pat) if you have any. Add lots of water, about 8-10 cups.
Cook it on the stove top on low heat for a couple of hours or so, adding water as required. Or cook it in the Slow Cooker for 8 – 10 hours.
An alternative method is to cook it in the oven – use boiling water on the rice and Dal, then cooked it at 125C for around 2 – 3 hours. Add salt to it, stir, put the lid back on and let it sit for 20 mins.
To make a tadka, heat ghee in a small pan or wok/kadhai. Add the mustard seeds and allow to pop. Add the remaining ingredients in the order given, allowing just a moment between adding each one. Then pour the ghee and spices onto the dish.
Gorgeous for breakfast or any time. It can be garnished with coriander leaves and some grated coconut.
recipe notes and alternatives
Remember that a cup of rice makes a lot of kitchari. Halve the recipe if you are not feeding a crowd.
I would not recommend using the Camargue Red Rice, currently available in supermarkets. It is a relatively new, French variety of rice that looks more like a wild rice, and I have not trialled it in kitchari style dishes. Seek out rices that look familiar, but are red in colour.
I use my favourite Rosa Matta Rice but any red rice or lightish brown rice will do. It is also successfully made with white rice if that is all that you have. The Matta rice loses its red colour on cooking and takes on the colour of the turmeric.
Use either whole or split Urad. Stick to white (hulled) whole or split for a pale colour. Unhulled urad in either form can be used but will darken the kitchari.
Add finely diced tomatoes to the kitchari.
Grated ginger and curry leaves can be added to the tadka.
For a special treat, cook it on a clay pot.
The final consistency can be anywhere from thin and soupy to thick – it is your choice. Just add water and mix until your desired consistency is reached. The kitchari will also thicken on standing.
With left over kitchari, make a chickpea flour batter, grate some parmesan and mix it in, then mix in the left over Kitchadi. Put large tablespoons of the mixture into a pan and left them to sizzle. They make great fritter-patties, crispy on the outside with rice goodness yummy in the middle. A can of creamed corn and some finely chopped herbs could be added. With a salad its a great meal.