A soothing and comforting combination of rice and lentils simmered in a pot on slow heat for hours, flavoured with spices is how we describe Khichdi, the meal for poor and gourmet delicacy for rich.
Khichdi is definitely a great comfort food for Indians as we resort to it on every occasion, be it on monsoon nights or on a gloomy days when the spirit needs a little pep up.
We Bengali went an extra mile to make it more savoury and richer in taste, by choosing golden lentils, highly fragrant rice (govindobhog) , slightly tossed in pure desi ghee, flavoured with bay leaf and whole garam masala and seasonal vegetables like cauliflower and peas added to its enriching taste.
It is customary for us to offer “bhoger khichuri” to our deities on the occasion of Durga puja, Lakshmi puja and Sarasvati puja accompanied by tomato – date chutney and payesh (rice pudding).
Choosing bulgur or broken wheat over rice is a conscious decision as it will notched up the nutritious level and a way to introduce dietary fibre in our daily need of nutrition. To know more about the nutritional elements of this tiny cracked grains of wheat : read here.
The goodness of broken wheat lies in its versatility, it can be paired with almost anything, vegans can opt for tofu or soya chunks and others with shredded chicken, shrimps and seasonal vegetables. This qualifies it as a one dish wonder / or one pot meal.
I usually combine the bulgur with split yellow lentils, and paired it with few vegetables (not all) only like potatoes, carrots, capsicum or bell peppers, cauliflowers and green peas. Tossing the bulgur and lentil (the same way I do it with rice and lentil khichdi) on a warm skillet will leave a nice aroma. Vegetables sautéed in ghee or oil along with ginger and some spices will then be added to the lentil-bulgur combi, simmered on low heat for half an hour at most and a wonderful meal is prepared.
In this recipe I have used organic lentil and broken wheat / bulgur.
Cooking time: 20 minutes, under pressure it will take only 10 minutes
Bulgur / broken wheat : 1 cup
Yellow split lentil (moong dal): 1/2 cup
Vegetables (diced) : 1 cup
Tomatoes: 2 small
Ginger paste: 1 tsp
Bay leaf: 1
4-5 cloves and a piece of cinnamon
Dry red chillies: 1-2
Green chillies: 1
Cumin and Coriander powder: 1 tsp each
Red chilli powder: 1/4 tsp
Roasted cashew nuts: 10-12
Ghee (clarified Indian butter): 1 table spoonful (can be substituted with any vegetable oil)
Salt to taste
Warm the skillet and toss the yellow lentil and broken wheat till it leaves a nice aroma. Now add excess water and remove the scum. Wash it two-three times to get rid off the scum and keep aside.
In a heavy bottom pan, melt the ghee (or heat some oil) and temper it with dry red chillies, bay leaf and cloves – cinnamon. Add the diced vegetables ( I have used a carrot, one potato, one small capsicum, few florets of cauliflowers and handful green peas) and saute well. Add all the spices (cumin, coriander and red chilli powder), and chopped tomatoes. Fry for sometime and add the salt.
Next add the lentil-broken wheat combi and mix well. Pour some water, stir it well and simmer it for 15 -20 minutes till done (or pressure cooked it up to 4-5 whistle depending upon the kind of water using).
Serve the hot broken wheat / bulgur khichdi, garnish with roasted cashew nuts, accompanied with pickle and raita or yogurt dip.
Verdict: very simple and healthy, at the same time effortless, comforting, nutritious and mildly flavoured, not overly spicy, drizzle of ghee over the soft and little mushy broken wheat brings out the taste and its richness. In short, it was a wholesome experience for us, relaxed and satisfied after having a hearty meal.
Sending this wonderful one pot meal to the event:
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