Comforting Bengali Khichuri

Mallika Basu - Comforting Bengali Khichuri

Posted 13th June 2008

My friend said it was like Sex and the City, but better and set in a Beirut beauty salon.

We weren’t disappointed. Throughout the stunningly shot, golden caramel feast, we sobbed into a carton of sweet popcorn. Mulling over the power of friendships and collective wisdom, even in the most unlikely of settings.

I desperately wanted to recreate that feeling of a giant hug at home. In a large aluminum pot.

It had to be Khichuri, a comforting rice and lentil dish that is the Indian equivalent of Risotto. The word literally means mixture and is also known by other variations like khichdi.

The principle is simple. You boil rice and lentils together. Add in vegetables of your choice, a few select spices and serve piping hot with fried stuff, yogurt and pickle for serious satisfaction.

While on the subject of friendships in the most unlikely of places. This is part of my contribution to fellow blogger Bri who is very sick and who bloggers are uniting to provide medical help. This is my entry to the special yellow-themed food photography event being hosted by Bee.

Feeds 4:

200 gm Raw Basmati rice

100 gm Yellow moong dal

1 carrot

2 small new potatoes

Handful of peas

1 small onion

2 green finger chillies

Half tsp each of turmeric, chilli, cumin and coriander powders

2 bay leaves

2 green cardamoms

1 inch cinnamon

Half tsp sugar

1 tbsp ghee

Salt to taste

Bring a large aluminium pot to heat over a high flame for 30 seconds. Then add the lentils and dry roast for two minutes until a gorgeous aroma escapes the pan. Now, turn off the heat and add the rice/ Now carefully wash the rice and lentils under a cold running tap, draining the water until it’s nearly clear.

Put it back on a high heat with three cups of hot water, bring it to boil with the turmeric and leave uncovered to bubble away on medium for five minutes.

In the meantime, peel and chop the carrots, quarter the potatoes, and chop the onions. When the five minutes are up, stir in the vegetables and all the spice powders. Also add salt and the sugar.

By this time, the rice and lentil will be half cooked. Keep it cooking covered for another 10 minutes with another two cups of hot water. You want to make sure the consistency is runny.

As the cooking time is coming up, heat the ghee over a high flame in a small frying pan. When it starts sizzling, add the sugar and whole spices and let them splutter for a few seconds.

Finally, mix this tadka (or sambhar as we call it) into the Bengali Khichuri and serve.

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