A steaming hot bowl of khichdi with kadhi on winter days or cucumber raita on hot summer days is a respite. It fills and satiates your soul. Not only is this food tasty, it is also nutritious and filling. It evokes a nostalgic feeling – granny’s home, childhood, meals with the whole family and the banter, laughter, feasting and merriment of everyone partaking.
On the surface of things, khichdi (or kitchari) is just a mishmash of boiled lentils, rice and tempered Indian condiments. A savoury porridge of sorts. But it is also the first solid food that is fed to babies. You eat khichdi when you are missing home, or when you’ve had a particularly happy occasion and want to treat yourself. It is the food you eat when you are unwell and down with a fever. It fortifies you. So, in that sense, it is almost an extension of mother’s love. And, you feel an overwhelming sense of connection.
Khichdi is more than food, especially for us Indians. It is soul food which has rich, traditional and deep-rooted linkages with our health and wellbeing. Here, in this article, I am eager to take you on a journey that is khichdi, and how it can be an experience to savour.
Perhaps the greatest goodness of khichdi comes from its simplicity. It can be literally cooked in one pot, from tempering the spices to boiling the mix of rice and lentils. Even the proportion of rice to lentils is not etched in stone and you can vary it largely depending on your taste.
Much like porridge, khichdi is light, refreshing and balanced. It is delicately aromatic and infused with flavour. And it is nutritious. From cleansing and detoxifying you to fortifying and strengthening you, khichdi can do it all!
Ingredients – Mix It Up!
Traditionally, we use rice, lentils and a selection of Indian condiments to prepare khichdi. But, khichdi is a versatile dish and you are free to experiment.
Use quinoa and semolina with basmati rice. Or use par-boiled rice that is richer in flavour. Use vegetables – carrots, broccoli, beans and asparagus to complement the taste. Use any lentil you like – moong beans/green gram, split urad bean/black gram or split toor dal/pigeon pea. Or use them all! Play with a mix of spices – coriander, turmeric, cumin and curry leaves. And garnish it with desiccated coconut or a dollop of butter! Um yum!
Here’s the link to the khichdi recipe. Give it a try and let me know how it went.
Khichdi is oozing with inherent goodness. Whether it is from the wholesome ingredients or from the hearth where it is cooked with love and care.
You can enhance the nutritional value of your khichdi meal by adding the right mix of vegetables. Buy organic, locally-grown produce from your farmers market. And use in-season veggies. Make sure you use herbs from your garden. And the pots, pans and appliances you use are energy wise.
Finally, cook with your family, get your children involved and enjoy a meal with friends. Khichdi is about sharing. It is about connecting over a plate. And it is about expressing your love.