Kitchari is such an essential part of Northern Indian cuisine. This is an aromatic and warming khichari, beautiful in its spicing. In Gujarati meals, khichari is served at the end of a meal. In other parts of India, like Bengal, it is often the centre-piece of the meal. This recipe is adapted from one in My Bombay Kitchen’s kitchari – it is the author’s mother’s recipe, so it has strong Gujarati influences.
Some North India uses long grain rices like basmati for kitchari. Inn these cases, the kitchari is light with separate rice grains. As you move south, short grained rices are used, like sona masoori, and the kitchari becomes denser with a buttery texture.
Serve this one with yoghurt curry and pickles – eggplant pickles, perhaps.
A Gujarati Kitchari
1 cup basmati or other long grain rice
0.5 cup mung dal or red lentils (masoor dal)
1 Tblspn Ghee
2.5 cm stick cinnamon
3 whole cloves
3 black peppercorns
1 tspn cumin seed
2 cardamom pods
3 green chillies, split lengthwise to the stem, but still intact
0.5 small onion, finely chopped
salt to taste
0.5 – 1 tspn ground turmeric
Rinse the rice and dal in several changes of water until the water runs clear.
Heat the ghee in the bottom of a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, cumin, cardamom and chillies. Let them saute for a minute or so. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are beginning to brown.
Add the rice, lentils, salt, turmeric, and enough water to come up to your first joint on your index finger when resting that finger on the rice and dal (an old trick for measuring water quantities for rice when cooking by the absorption method).
Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low, cover the pan tightly and cook for 15-20 minutes. Turn the heat off without lifting the lid and let it sit for another 10 minutes before fluffing it up gently with a fork. Feel free to add more ghee if desired.
Note that there are many English alternate spellings of Kitchari – Kitchadi, khichdi, kitchari, khichri, khichdee, khichadi, khichuri, khichari, kitcheree, kitcheri, 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.