After a long, hard day or on a cold winter night (and those times when I am stuffy and sniffy), all I crave for is some warm, comforting khichadi. I have fond memories from my childhood, when mom used to cook this simple and easy one pot concoction of rice & moong daal. Traditionally it is paired with kadhi (warm, spicy buttermilk) but I usually take the shortcut and have it with cool mattha (Maharashtrian version of salty lassi or spiced up buttermilk). The hot and spicy roasted chilli-garlic thecha (Maharashtrian version of chilli garlic chutney) on the side definitely kicks it up a notch!
This, for me, is the most comforting, comfort food.
(Rice and Lentil with Garlic)
Khichadi is a popular dish throughout India. Some like it mild, some like it spicy; sometimes its soft & mushy and other times its perfectly cooked, fluffy & distinctly grainy (this is how I like it). Nutritious and easy on the stomach, it is a staple meal for a lot of Indians. I add my personal touch and turn this simple concoction into a very elegant one by using fresh garlic.
The general rule of thumb is 2:1 proportions of rice:daal. I use 1:1 to take some of the weight off the starchy rice carbs and add more of the healthy daal protein.
1 cup basmati or any white rice like jasmine, sona masoori, surti kolam (or up health factor by using brown basmati rice!)
1 cup split moong daal with skin (any other variety works well too)
1-2 tbsp good oil (canola, sunflower, corn, vegetable) or ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (rai/mori)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 pinch asofotida
1-2 dry red chillies
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp, garam masala
salt, to taste
3&1/2 cups water
fresh cilantro/coriander (dhania), finely chopped for garnishing
Wash and drain the rice and daal together and keep aside.
In a pressure cooker/pan or a medium pot with lid, heat the oil. Add mustard and cumin seeds along with the pinch of asofotida, dry red chillies and chopped garlic. When the seeds splutter and the garlic is slightly browned, add the the rice and daal. Then add garam masala and salt and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
Add water, cover with the lid and cook for 15-20 mins until the rice and daal mixture has absorbed all the moisture and is dry and fluffy. Alternately, if using a pressure cooker/pan, cover the lid and bring the cooker to a full pressure, letting it whistle for 3 times, then reduce to low heat and simmer for 5 mins.
Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot.
Mattha or spiced buttermilk is a cool and savory drink. Growing up, I remember my mom churning the butter every week and we would get to enjoy the fresh home made buttermilk. With a little hint of spices and fresh herbs, this refreshing drink is very healthy and aids in digestion. As you can imagine, it has a very soothing and relaxing effect. Sit back, relax and enjoy every sip of this cool concoction!
For the mattha, you could either use the ready buttermilk available in the grocery stores or mix water and yogurt, 1:1 proportion and then add the spices and herbs.
2 cups buttermilk or 1 cup yogurt (whole, reduced, low or non fat) mixed with 1 cup of water (if using low or non fat, increase the qty. of yogurt and decrease qty. of water to suit your taste)
1/2 cm piece of ginger, minced
1 small green chilli (optional)
2-3 cilantro sprigs, finely chopped
1-2 pinches cumin (jeera) powder
1-2 pinches coriander (dhania) powder
And my secret ingredient,
black salt, to taste
Alternatively, you can use
1/2 tsp MDH Chunky Chaat Masala instead of cumin, coriander and black salt.
Add all the ingredients to the yogurt-water mixture or the ready buttermilk and stir well.
(Ground Roasted Chilli-Garlic)
The heat from red chilli and the spice from garam masala in the khichadi are not quite enough for me. I need to spice it up more, with the thecha. Green chillies and garlic are roasted and ground together to form a coarse paste. The smoky flavor from the roasting adds to the heat of the chillies and the aroma of the garlic. Cool it down with a little bit of yogurt and you won’t be able to resist this fiery-icy concoction.
Now, traditionally, the chillies and garlic are roasted on a flat pan with some oil. I have taken the oil out of the equation. And also I don’t want to use too many utensils (who’s gonna wash them??) Your kitchen tongs can do the job and all they need is a rinse later on.
3-4 small green chillies (Very hot! Use less chillies for desired level of heat/spiciness) (See Concoctions 101)
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves
1/4 cup yogurt (any kind)
3-4 cilantro sprigs, finely chopped
salt, to taste
1 pinch sugar (this adds the Maharashtrian touch)
With a pair of kitchen tongs, roast the chillies and garlic cloves by holding them directly on the stove flame till they turn dark brown-black in color. If you don’t have a gas stove, you can roast them on a frying pan/flat iron skillet. You may use a few drops of oil, but if you don’t, they will roast just fine.
Coarsely pound the two using a pestle and a mortar (as shown above). Add the rest of the ingredients and combine with the pestle. Alternatively, you can use a mini food processor and it will deliver the same product. Just remember to pulse and not run it continuously.
This can be a great side item to spice up any meal. As I do, it can be had with khichadi or any other rice concoction and goes very well with parathas too.