Palak Dal khichdi(lentils and rice with spinach )

Toothache!Excruciating pain is what I felt until I came back from the dentist with 3 fillings done .And all that i am allowed to eat is soft morsels of non spicy food and liquids until 2 days..But liquids cannot be my meals..I can never survive on liquids..semi solid or solid food is what I need to be able to conquest and tame  my hunger.Soon, the best and the only solution that came to my mind is khichdi.
But then, I know few of you might be wondering why write on  dal khichdi?Its staple food for many of us Indians..And what”s so special to feature in a blog?? To be candid enough,I behave in a similar manner too if I read blogs featuring  regular dishes venturing out of our kitchen on a regular day,that which comprises of our staple food.
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Yet this khichidi features in my blog coz I believe that there are different ways to make khichdi..It is just not one particular style as many of us would like to believe. And the way you make, tastes different obviously..Of course its just a combination of lentils and rice yet, the way its made and savoured across different cultures is different.In short there is an art of cooking up the perfect khichdi.
I talk of cultures, coz I have realised that khichidi in the eastern part of our country is cooked very differently then the way it is prepared in the households and restaurants of the western region..And that is what I realized after having spent years in this city of Mumbai. Traditionlaly born into the eastern belt of the country (born in the state of Assam,see more )khichidi is staple and a cultural favorites of many . Infact during winters, moonsoons  and especially Durga Puja, Khichidi would make its joyful appearance..And the khichidi during durga puja is too die for.In fact it is synonymous with durga Puja festivities. the religious “bhog” at the puja pandals consists of hot, lip smacking khichdi that we wait for the entire year to savour a spoonful.A distinctive taste that is totally different from any other khicidi that you might relish in restaurants or home.
While on khichdi, the way its made at home is to cook both the dal and the rice together..In fact its soo simple that when unwell or on a lazy day, the best thing to brighten your mood is the khichdi..And it really isnt a recipe to be enjoyed with guests or for a regular day.Like today, its the best solution to sooth my sore tooth..So that is how i thought of Khichdi  until I came to Mumbai, that is is savoured just at homes, not even restaurants and that too on a day when either laziness is at peak or you are too tired  or unwell or just a way to compliment the heavy downpour outside..But slowly, as years passed by I realised that khichdi is a dish that which can be enjoyed even in restaurants ..restaurants here serve some amazing khichdi dishes..I was left stunned..In fact i savoured the most amazing khichidi in awe and delight in some hi end restaurants.How can it be so joyfully relished on a dinner out in a restaurant?Spooning mouthfools,  I realized soon that the khichdi is made differently and has a different and discerning  taste altogether..And yes, it is definitely tasty and can be relished anytime as a maincourse entree .There isnt the need to have the apologetic streak about svaouring it for your meal ,justifying the reason for its appearance  on a busy day, or being unwell. And so now, khichdi(esp this type) often makes its appearance in my kitchen like it did today..
The difference soon I realized is the way the rice and the dal is cooked..While in the eastern side of our country, the dal and rice are cooked together , the ones that I see here in restaurants have a grainy texture of the rice.The long grains of the rice remains intact in a simmering dal gravy..How is that? Soon I got the secret..The dal is half cooked and then goes in the rice, which makes it retain its grainy texture.So the bite of the rice is evident while mouthing a spoonful of the khichdi..But in my culture, the rice almost gets mixed with the dal since they are cooked together..While the dal takes a tad bit longer to cook, the rice gets overcooked and almost gets blended with the dal.
Nevertheless both taste awesome..And while the khichdi from the eastern side and especially the Assamese culture that I am rooted to generally has only rice and dal with no veggies, although at most homes, you would see mixed veggies like potatoes ,cauliflower that goes in as well, here in the western part, khichdi is called most often dal khichdi and sometimes there is the version of palak(spinach) khichdi
Today was a bad day for me ,with my tooth , all I wanted was something soft and simple   .Plus with the heavy downpour what better then hot piping dal khichdi and some papad and brinjaj fry???
I choose to make it the way that is most often found in restaurants..And my version?Palak Dal Khichdi..
I had some spinach leaves in my fridge and since i had no other side dishes to go with the khichdi, i thought of adding these nutrient rich spinach leaves to the khichdi elevating it to higher level .Also i like my khichdi with a larger quantity of dal(lentils) then the rice so to live up to the name of “dal Khichdi”.It definetely is more tastier then adding equal quantities of dal and rice.This allows the rice to soak in the gravy of the dal beautifully with its grainy strands standing out tall waiting to be gulped
Lentils(combination of moong, masoor and toovar)- 1 cup.I use very less of moong and more of the others
Rice- 1/2 cup
Garlic- 3-4 chopped
ginger-1/2 inch chopped
turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
asafodia- a pinch
coriander powder- 2 tsp
cumin powder- 1 tsp
kitchen king masala- 1/2 tsp
salt- as per taste
spinach leaves- 1/3 rd of a bunch
tomato- 1/2 chopped
onion- 1 small chopped
oil-1 tbsp
water-as required
Plz note: I use less quantity of rice then the dal so for a better taste,the rice granins soaking in a simmering dal gravy.You can add equal quanties of dal and rice as well,although i believe less of rice gives a better taste and a thick liquidish texture as well
Method
  • In a pressure cooker, add oil, and add the asafodeia, cumin seeds and garlic and ginger.Fry and add the onion. Fry for a while and add the tomato.
  • Add the turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, kitchen king masala,red chilli powder and fry for a while.
  • Add the spinach..Fry and now add the lentils..Fry for a minute and add a little water if the dal sticks to the bottom of the cooker. Stir and add enough water and close the lid. Let the cooker whistle once and put the cooker on low flame for about 3-4 minutes.By now the dal must have been half cooked.
  •  Open the lid and add the washed rice now. Add more water if the water has dried up. Add enough for the rice to be cooked in the gravy..Its ok if the water is a little more, you can dry that later but be sure that the water is not less, coz it will get burnt otherwise. Adjust salt, close the lid ,and let the rice cook as per the time it takes. Let the cooker whistle once and put in on low flame for about 3 minutes..
  • Open the cooker  and give a tempering of ghee with red chilli and garlic, cumin seeds and mustard seeds.. the aroma of the ghee tempering really takes this dish to a different level.
Toothache or not, i thoroughly enjoy my style of khichdi, incredibly soft and delicious, the palak(spinach) giving in that extra nutrients ..And in this moonsoon what better way then to savour a plate of piping hot scrumptious khichdi? Pickle, papad and a side veggie dish ( i say brinjals dipped in a gramflour batter) should do wonders to satiate your cravings on  a rainy day..
I now take pride in showcassing khidchi as my maincoures entree even on a regular day or during  home events.No aprehension, no apologies , no justification of its appearance as a substitute to your regular dishes.Its a dish in tself to be devoured in delight. Brings in a smile to the faces just as your regular dishes would do ,with a downpour of lavish praises in its ability to satitae your hunger pangs with full throttle

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