This dish is a powerful, multi flavour-layered experience, created from the humble rice and mung dal, and that leaves one feeling so wonderfully warm for hours after. It doesn’t take long to cook – but does take a little thought to keep all of those spices in order!
The Mung Dal and rice are dry roasted, imparting a lovely warm aroma and taste to the khichuri. Khichuri can be as plain or as rich as you want it to be. It can range from almost pilaf-like at times, to a mild, runny, and carefully spiced version for when you are under the weather and need comforting, to steaming and slurpy ones for wistful rainy days, to the thick, gorgeous, ghee-laden offerings to your favourite deity, to the dense porridge-like dish of South India.
A satvic dish, this is often made for Bengali festival to Goddess Durga. If done on any other day it is just a Kitchari made with Roasted Mung dal. But the same Kitchari when made with a mixture of devotion, faith, respect and the fragrance of incense, and cooked for Ma Durga or Ma Saraswati, is lifted to the sublime and called Bhog Khichuri.
A Bengali Spice Laden Kitchari
adapted from: Bhog Khichuri
½ cup yellow mung daal
1 cup rice, washed – find some Govindo Bhog (Ambemohar Rice) rice in your local Indian shop (a fragrant short grained rice), otherwise use a short grain rice such as soma masori, or any rice will still produce a great dish
2 Tblspn ghee
1 Tblspn mustard oil
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
4 tspn panch phoron (to make your own, see below)
1 tspn black mustard seeds
2 Indian bay leaves (tejapatta) If you don’t have these, leave them out.
¼ tspn asafetida
1 Tbsp ginger paste or grated ginger
1 large green chilli, finely chopped
1 tspn turmeric powder
1 Tblspn garam masala
1/2 Tblspn cumin powder
1/2 Tblspn coriander seed powder
1 tspn red chilli powder
Salt to taste
Chopped coriander leaves to garnish
Dry roast the mung dal for 3 – 4 minutes or until the dal smells delicious. Once it turns light golden brown, remove from heat.
Dry roast the rice in the same way, watching that it does not burn.
Heat the mustard oil and ghee in a heavy based pan. Add the Panch Phoron spices and let them crackle. Once the crackling stops, add asafoetida, Indian bay leaves, ginger paste and green chillies. Sauté, over low heat for about 30 seconds.
Add the tomatoes and stir, then add the turmeric powder, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander seed powder and red chilli powder. Add 0.25 cup water and continue to cook for another minute.
Add the roasted mung dal and rice to this fragrant spice mix. Season with a little salt, add 3.5 cups water. Cover the pot and cook over low heat. Check periodically and add more water if necessary. Cook for about 30 minutes. Kitchadi is forgiving and you can cook it for up to an hour as long as you keep checking the water levels.
You are after a semi-porridge consistency rather than a pilaf consistency.
Once cooked, garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot.
1 tspn cumin seeds
1 tspn fenugreek seeds
1 tspn fennel seeds
1 tspn kalonji (get this from an Indian shop, or any shop that sells a lot of spices. It looks like black onion seed. It is not the same asblack sesame seed.)
Vegetables can be added to the kitchari, for example cauliflower, green peas, potatoes, carrots etc
Cinnamon and cloves can be added to the spices.
Note that there are many English alternate spellings of Kitchadi — khichdi, kitchari, khichri, khichdee, khichadi, khichuri, khichari, kitcheree, kitchree, khichdi, and many other variants, and each Indian language has it’s own variation e.g. Hindi खिचड़ी khicṛī, Urdu: کھچڑی khicṛī, Oriya: ଖେଚେଡ଼ି khecheṛi, Bengali: খিচুড়ী khichuṛi, Gujarati: ખીચડી khichḍi