Khichdi is a comfort food for millions of Indians. It is a rice and lentil dish where rice and yellow split lentils or any lentil of your choice (preferably fast-cooking ones like red lentils) are cooked together with or without spices and vegetables. It is a dish preferred by cooks on days when there is too much work, you’ve come back from travel, don’t feel like eating anything else, and have an upset stomach. It’s even the first meal for babies.
And there are a gazillion varieties – with or without spices, with or without vegetables, choice of lentils, textural differences – some prefer the mushy, porridge-y, oatmeal-like texture and some prefer every grain-distinct-like-a-pulao texture.
My mother makes the every-grain-distinct with just, salt, turmeric and cumin seeds in the tadka. She jazzes it up sometimes by blending a paste of fresh coconut and ginger and adding it to the boiling rice and lentil mixture.
But the most interesting one I have seen is what my MIL makes – with rice and yellow split mung beans and 5 times the water and spices of salt and turmeric. In the pressure cooker this mixture goes for 3-4 whistles, depending on the age of rice (that’s a whole another show). And once the cooker cools down, she whisks it with her wooden whisk to completely smother the remaining vestiges of the rice and lentil that you see. Add heaping ghee on top and some prefer jaggery. It’s so good for when you’ve had your fill of rich, holiday or wedding meals.
I have chosen this recipe because it’s a one-pot meal containing rice, lentils and vegetables but have given two ways of cooking it.
Khichdi (in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot)
1 tablespoon ghee (replace with 1 tablespoon coconut oil if vegan)
Dry Whole Spices
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
Other Spices, seasonings and alliums
1 tablespoon peeled, grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1 cup combined vegetables (carrots, cauliflower florets, zucchini, green beans). Feel free to change the composition of the combo according to your preference or according to what you have
1/4 cup green peas
1/2 cup chopped red onions into 0.5" x 0.5" pieces
2 teaspoon ketchup
3/4 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup yellow split lentils
Pressure cooker/Instant Pot
Wooden stirring spoon
1) Combine ¾ cup rice and ¼ cup yellow split lentil and wash them thoroughly till the drained water runs clear. Set aside if you have the time for 30 min. If not, no worries, start putting the khichdi together.
2) Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a pressure cooker or an instant pot.
3) Add ½ tsp cumin seeds after letting the ghee heat up for 2 minutes. They will sizzle. Follow up with 10-15 curry leaves, ½ cup onions and ¼ tsp turmeric powder.
4) Sauté for 7-8 minutes. The onions will start ac
quiring brown edges. Add 1 tbsp ginger and the rest of the vegetables and 3/4 tsp salt. Let the vegetables sweat for 5 minutes. Combine in 1 tsp ground coriander, ¼ tsp garam masala, ½ tsp red chile powder and 2 tsp ketchup.
5) Add rice and lentil mixture and stir well. Pour 2.5 cups water.
6) Place lid on the pressure cooker, turn the heat to medium and let the pressure cooker have 3 whistles. If using Instant Pot, turn to the rice setting.
7) Turn the heat off and let the pressure cooker cool down completely.
8) Pour ghee generously on the khichdi and eat hot with pickle.
Khichdi (on the stovetop)
Pressure cooker/Instant Pot
Wooden stirring spoon
1) Combine ¾ cup rice and ¼ cup split yellow lentils and wash them thoroughly till the drained water runs clear. Set aside if you have the time for 30 min. If not, no worries, start putting the khichdi together.
2) Heat 1 tbsp ghee in thick-bottomed pot at medium heat.
3) After letting the ghee heat up for 2 minutes, add ½ tsp cumin seeds and once they stop sizzling, follow up with 10-15 curry leaves, ½ cup onion pieces and ¼ tsp turmeric powder.
4) Sauté for 7-8 minutes and the onions will acquire a brown edge. Combine in the rest of the vegetables, 1 tbsp ginger and ¾ tsp salt. Let the vegetables sweat and cook for 5 minutes. Mix the 1 tsp ground coriander, ½ tsp garam masala, ½ tsp red chile powder and 2 tsp ketchup with the vegetables.
5) Add rice and dal mixture and stir well. Pour 3.5 cups water and raise the heat to high.
6) The mixture will start boiling in about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it. Be on the lookout for when the liquid disappears. This should take another 10 minutes.
7) Once the liquid is gone, lower the heat to the lowest setting.
8) After 5 minutes, check a grain of rice between the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand. If the grain squishes easily, the khichdi is ready. If the r
ice does not squish easily, perform the same test in another 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the khichdi rest for at least 10 minutes with the lid continuing to cover the pot.
9) We want the khichdi to be soft, wet and oatmeal-like. Pour ghee generously on the khichdi & eat warm with pickle