As you know, I am a sucker for a good kitchari. The best known kitchari dishes are made with rice and mung dal, but in fact it can be made with any grains and lentils cooked together. You can see a range of different ones here. Today’s version uses the delicious Urad Dal with some Red Rice.
As an aside, kitchari is often called risotto by some recipe writers/sharers. This is not accurate – kitchari might be closer to a congee even tho that also is not a great analogy. Read here to see the differences between kitchari and risotto – including that risotto is perfectly cooked rice, just a little al dente, and kitchari often over-cooks the rice to form a gorgeous porridge-like texture. This is especially true in the South of India. In the North, it can be closer to a pilau or pilaf – still a long way from a risotto.
Any red rice can be used in this recipe. I am using a Wild Red Rice (labelled Forbidden Rice in the supermarket), but red Basmati can be used or a Keralite or Sri Lankan red rice. I have also made it with an equal ratio of Urad Dal, Pongal Rice and Wild Red Rice. In a pinch, make it with any white rice in place of the red rice.
Keep in mind that urad dal has a great affinity for ghee/butter and cumin seeds. Tomatoes also. Best not to skimp on these ingredients.
Super Healthy Urad and Red Rice Kitchari with Spinach
several leaves of spinach or other greens, chipped into approx 5cm pieces
0.5 cup urad dal
0.5 cup red rice, or use white rice
1.5 tspn ginger, grated
1 level tspn turmeric powder
sea salt, to taste and 0.5 tspn black pepper
2 tspn ghee
1 tspn brown mustard seeds
1 tspn cumin seeds
0.5 tspn ajwain seeds
2 Indian dried red chillies
8 – 10 curry leaves, optional
0.5 – 1 tspn Indian chilli powder, or to taste
Rinse the urad dal well, about 3 times, until the water is clear. Soak the dal for about an hour and the rice for 10 – 20 mins.
Drain the rice and urad dal and add to a large saucepan with the spinach. Add water to cover well. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat. Add additional water during cooking if necessary.
After 1 hour of gentle simmering add the turmeric powder and ginger. Continue to simmer for another 1 – 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more water when necessary.
When cooked, season with sea salt and black pepper. Then make a tadka. Heat the ghee in a tadka pan and add the mustard seeds. When they have popped, add the other seeds, asafoetida and dried chillies, then, as they turn golden, add the curry leaves – careful, they will splutter.
Remove the tadka pan from the heat and allow to cool for 20 – 30 seconds, then stir through the chilli powder. Pour the tadka over the dal and serve.
recipe notes and alternatives
Other greens can be used. Mustard leaves are great. Rocket or baby spinach can be added at the end of cooking.
Tomatoes can be added after an hour of cooking – use 3 tomatoes, diced or pureed, or use passata.
The spinach can be omitted.