Can a simple bowl of rice and lentils bring comfort to the distressed soul ? Yes, some food are like that, primitive in form and yet so nourishing and comforting. The golden pot of khichdi in which rice and lentils cooked together till they loss some of their individualistic character and become one are like that, the true comfort food ever known to man. Comfort foods are different for different people yet they serve the same purpose in life, that is to bring comfort to the body, mind and soul.
Khichdi means different things to different people in India, for some it is the mourning food, for some it is prescribed soft food eaten only during illness and for some it is the most relishing and soulfood. And for us it is God’s own comfort food. So in Bengali ritual and pujas, the offerings made to God are, this quintessential golden pot of khichdi, lovingly called as “bhoger khichuri”. Pure and divine. But our love for khichuri does not ends there. While bhoger khichuri is best served during Lakshmi / Saraswati puja or Durga puja, we have devised other recipes, to prove our loyalty towards this divine food so that we can enjoy it any other time.
Like this masoor dal khichdi which is perfect for Monsoon days. Yes, it has to be during monsoon season when rivers are in full spate, when the dark clouds permanently veiled the green Earth, when the rains flooded the streets, villages, turning them into a chaotic world but everything seems to be in perfect order with a bowl of piping hot khichdi in hand.
Musoor dal khichdi is different from other variants of khichdi. The red lentils are cooked together with par-boiled rice (which is common in Bengali homes), big chunks of potatoes, sliced onions and whole garam masala. In Bengali culture, this type of khichdi which uses liberal dose of onions and garlic are termed as “aamish” or non-veg khichdi, in compare to the bhoger khcihdi which is cooked without onions and garlic and hence known as “niramish” or satvik khichdi.
You can use any other rice variety but that gooey, oozy, taste and gelatinous texture like risotto is possible only with the par-boiled rice which lends a completely different aroma to the dish. It is then devoured with ilish maach bhaja or fried hilsa, the prized and illusionary fish from the Ganges. And Monsoon is the season when rivers in Bengal are full of ilish, hence this marriage of liquid yor runny massor dal khichuri with ilish mach bhaja, sometimes with dim bhaja or Indian omlette, assorted vegetable fritters like begun bhaja (fried eggplants), aloo bhaja (thinly sliced crispy fried potatoes), potol bhaja (fried pointed gourds) and so on. Pappad (poppadum) and chilli pickle as side to complete the khichuri platter.
- Red lentils / musoor dal (skinned)- 1 cup
- Par-boiled rice : 1¼ cup
- Potatoes : 1 big cut into chunks
- Onions (sliced) : 1 big
- Garlic cloves : 3-4
- Ginger paste : 1 tbsp
- Tomatoes : 1 chopped
- Green chillies : 2-3
- Whole garam masala (cloves , cinnamon , cardamom) : 2-3 each
- Cumin powder (roasted) 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder : ½ tsp
- Red chilli powder - ½ tsp (optional)
- Bay leaf - 1 or 2
- Salt and sugar to taste
- Ghee : 2 tbsp
- Wash and soak the rice for half an hour.
- Wash the lentils properly.
- Cut the vegetables as mentioned above
- In a pressure cooker, heat one tablespoon ghee.
- Temper it with whole spices, bay leaf.
- Fry the onion slices till translucent. Fry the garlic and ginger paste too.
- Add the lentils and rice, potatoes, tomatoes, green chillies and other spices.
- Fry or saute them for a while.
- Add salt and four cups water.
- Pressure cook till done.
- This khichdi will be runny in texture.
- Adjust salt, seasonings and add sugar.
- Add remaining ghee, give a nice stir and serve hot.