Khichdi needs no prologue. It’s a baby’s first introduction to solid food, comfort food for cool mornings and chilly nights, remedy when one’s under the weather (cuz it’s easy on the gut) and a quick fix when you don’t fancy cooking an elaborate meal. Most importantly, it’s a blessing when you have a bad toothache (speaking from experience 🙂 ).
Khichdi is lentils and rice cooked together into a porridgelike consistency with a generous tempering of ghee and cumin and anything that your creative mind can dream of.
Dal Khichdi is elevating this creativity to a whole different level. And Restaurant Style Dal Khichdi is the way it is cooked in restaurants, simple. What they do is, they cook the rice and dal separately, which are mixed only when an order is placed. This maintains the beautiful structure of rice, distinguished flavors of dal and prevents the dish from turning into a boring, soggy, regular porridge. Every Indian household has their varied versions of dal, and that’s what I love about these humble lentils. There’s no end to the great many ways you can cook it. And, there’s no particular recipe that you HAVE to adhere to. Add whatever you wish, delete whatever you wish; the result never never never disappoints. After cooking dal the way you desire, add the rice and mix well; and there you have your hearty and wholesome version of Dal Khichdi . This one’s mine:
I’ve used tempering in three different stages. First two are vital. The last, well, you can skip; only if you run out of patience.
• Basmati rice – 1 cup
• Toor dal 1 cup
• Chana dal 1/4th cup
• Masoor dal 1/4th cup
• Moong dal 1/4th cup
* Wash all the lentils together thoroughly and soak them overnight; 3-4 hours also will do.
FOR FIRST TEMPERING:
• Ghee 1 tbsp
• Cumin seeds 1 tsp
• Ginger – julienned 1 inch
• Water – as per your desired consistency
• Turmeric 1 tsp
FOR SECOND TEMPERING:
• Ghee 3 tbsp
• Jeera (cumin seeds) 1 tsp
• Onion 2 medium sized (chopped)
• Whole red chillies 2-3
• Garlic 2 tbsp (chopped)
• Green chillies 3-4 nos. (chopped)
• Ginger 1 inch (chopped)
• Tomatoes 2 medium sized (chopped)
• Salt to taste
• Turmeric powder 1 tsp
• Coriander powder 1 tbsp
• Red chili powder or Kashmiri chili powder 1 tsp
• Amchur powder 1 tsp
• Garam masala 1 tsp
• Kasuri methi 1 tsp (powdered or crushed)
• Live charcoal + Ghee
• Lemon juice 1 tsp
• Fresh coriander leaves 1 tbsp (chopped)
FOR FINAL TEMPERING:
• Ghee 1 tbsp
• Jeera 1tsp • Red chili powder 1tsp • Asafoetida ½ tsp (hing) • Whole red chilies 2 no. • Fried onions or Birista 3 tbsp
• Rinse the basmati rice with water thoroughly and soak for 15 minutes.
• Rice for Dal Khichdi is cooked in the same way it is for Biryani. In boiling water, add the washed and soaked rice, salt to taste and cook for 10-15 minutes. Strain the cooked rice. Delicately run a fork through it so the steam escapes and prevents overcooking. It also prevents the beautiful long grains from sticking to each other.
• In a cooker, heat ghee, add jeera and let it splutter. Then add julienned ginger, fry a bit and add the soaked lentils. Add water in a quantity that’s reaches only a couple of inches above the lentils. Add turmeric and a bit salt and stir.
• Pressure cook on medium flame for 3-4 whistles. If soaked overnight, 2 whistles are enough. Switch off the flame and let the cooker depressurize on its own. Lift the whistle up to check the steam. Open the lid only if there’s no steam to escape. Give it a nice stir so all the lentils are mixed nicely together.
• In a wok, heat ghee, add cumin and let it splutter. Add asafoetida and onions and cook until translucent. Then toss in whole red chilies, chopped garlic, green chilies, chopped ginger and sauté for a minute.
• Add tomatoes and cook until mushy. Then add all the powdered spices and cook until oil leaves at the sides.
• Add the cooked dal & mix well
• Add the cooked rice, mix well and cook for 3-4 minutes.
• Add water and salt as per your desired consistency and taste; cook for 4-5 minutes.
• If you fancy a smokey flavour to your Khichdi, you need to have a small piece of charcoal. Mine are about 8 years old, and I’ve used them repeatedly for Biryanis and Pulaos. This really distinguishes your dish from the commoners, earning you extra brownie points for going that extra mile.
How you do it is, heat the charcoal on the burner till it’s flaming red. Then place this live charcoal in a tiny bowl which is placed over the khichdi. Drizzle couple of teaspoons of ghee over the coal. Smoke wafts up instantly. Immediately cover the wok and leave it at that for about 5 minutes. The smoke mixes into the imparting its divine flavour. You can skip this step if you don’t have charcoal.
• Lastly add kasuri methi and lemon juice, give it a nice stir. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander, mix and serve hot, after the final tadka or tempering:
(OPTIONAL) Heat ghee in a pan, add cumin seeds, Kashmiri chili powder, asafetida, whole red chilies and fried onions or Birista.
Mix and pour it over hot dal khichdi while plating.
Serve hot with roasted or fried papad and pickle.
P.S.: Pardon my pitiful attempt with videos. I was putting my ambidexterity to good use; or so I thought; holding phone in one hand and cooking with the other. At one point it so hopeless that I had to take a screenshot of it; check the charcoal pic. Will try to do better next time, I promise :).