Kitchari is a comforting, healthy and nutritious dish from the North of India. It has many variations, from simply spiced to heavily spiced. This is a recipe from the Parsi community of India. A simply spiced dish, it is flavoursome and delicious.
Kitchari is generally made from rice cooked with a dal; the dal is usually Mung Dal but it can vary. Kitchari can be made with long grain rice, in which case it is a loose dish, almost like a pilaf, or with a stickier short grain rice, resulting in a more dense, compact dish where the rice and dal have collapsed into each other. This recipe is best made with short grain rice, e.g. sona masori, but if you don’t have short grain rice to hand, it can be made with a longer grain rice. The texture will be different with longer grained rice – it does not collapse so much when cooked in kitchari – but the result will still be delicious and enjoyable.
There is always a debate about whether rice should be soaked before cooking. We find that the result is better if you do soak briefly, about 10 minutes, but there are times soaking is not possible due to time constraints. The soaking step can be skipped if necessary.
It is important to use Mung Dal in this recipe; Mung Dal are mung beans which are hulled (the green skin removed) and split. It is yellow in colour. Avoid using the generically named “yellow lentils” as these are sometimes channa dal, which takes a long time to cook and, when cooked, does have the same buttery flavour or that wonderful mushy texture that is important in this kitchari. If you can’t find Mung Dal in your supermarket, look in bulk food shops, Indian groceries or Organic/Health shops.
A Simple Kitchari | Parsi Kitchari
1 cup short grain rice for best results – e.g. sona masori – or use any rice
1 cup mung dal
1 tspn turmeric
1 Tblspn or more of ghee
0.5 tspn cumin seeds
salt to taste
Take the rice and mung dal, and soak them together for 10 minutes. Drain them well. If you have time, lay them out on a kitchen towel for 10 – 30 mins to air dry.
Then cook the rice and mung dal in about 8 cups water. After 20 mins, add salt to taste and the turmeric powder. Stir to combine, and continue to cook.
Cook for about 45 minutes in total, until the rice and dal are very soft and are collapsing into each other – a mish-mash porridge-like texture. The kitchari will be fairly thick at this point.
Using a small pan, heat a Tblspn of ghee and add 1/2 tspn cumin seeds. Let the seeds splutter (be careful not to burn the seeds) and then pour both the ghee and the cumin seeds over the cooked dal and rice mixture. Stir well to combine. Cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes to absorb flavours, adding water to the kitchari if it is too thick. It can be like a thick porridge, or add a little water to thin it down, according to your preference.
Optionally add a little more ghee to make the kitchari unctuous and warming. Place the lid on the pan, and allow the kitchari to sit for 3 – 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy.
once you have mastered this kitchari, try some variations
- A Bengali 14-Spice Khitchari
- Steamed Buttery Khitchari
- Sweet Mung Dal Khitchari
- Cracked Wheat Khitchari
- Urad and Red Rice Khitchari
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. It is also known as Pongal in Sth India.