Khichdi is a nutritious dish of rice, lentils as well as vegetables which any dietitian would recommend. In fact, the plus point is that it is a complete meal in itself. It would do even if nothing else is cooked along with it My association with khichdi has been in two different ways, the Bihari way and the Bengali way and both have been unique.
On Saturdays or shanivaar, it is customary to have khichdi in Bihar. So, we used to have it every Saturday for lunch. The khichdi was prepared with chana dal (Bengal Gram) or masoor dal (red lentil) and rice with a tempering of garam masala, onions and red chillies in it. There is a saying in Bihar: “Khichdi ke chaar yaar: dahi, papad, ghee and achaar“. So when you have khichdi, you have to have these accompaniments. Then, of course, there is aloo and baingan ka bharta (mashed potato and mashed brinjal) and chakka/bajka (fried vegetables in gram flour batter). You can add tomato chutney to this as well which is prepared with blanched tomatoes and onions, chillies and roasted cumin powder. The meal is complete. Khichdi in Bihar is also had during Makar Sankranti at night though this khichdi has vegetables added to it as well and is a more elaborate affair.
The Bengali khichudi (yes, it is spelt that way) is had whenever it rains. You also get to have the bhog khichudi in Saraswati Puja, Durga Puja and Kali Puja along with labda (mixed vegetable preparation), begun bhaja ( brinjal fry) and chaatni ( a chutney of seasonal fruits) makes the meal complete. But when there is a khichudi on a rainy day then you got to have illish fry with that or dim bhaja (omelette). Now Bengali khichudi is mostly prepared with moong dal and potatoes, cauliflower, peas, and even tomatoes along with ginger paste and spices.
There are many ways in which khichdi is prepared all over India. I have been lucky to have both types of khichdi but would want to explore this dish further.
Recipe of Khichdi (as cooked in Bihar):
Take equal quantities of rice and lentils and cook in a pressure cooker adding just salt and turmeric to it. Keep in mind there should be enough water even when the khichdi is cooked as it has the tendency to soak up water after a while. Now, in a pan, add oil, jeera (cumin seeds), red chillies, bay leaves, onions and sauté. Add some garam masala. Pour the hot oil with all the spices in the khichdi and mix well. Serve hot and don’t forget to use melted ghee over it.
Aloo bharta – It is simply mashed potatoes, but with a difference. Heat oil. Fry shredded onions and green chillies. Add salt to taste. Add mashed potato and sauté for a while so that oil mixes well with the potatoes.
Baingan bharta – Roast brinjal on fire. Remove when soft. Put in cold water. The skin will come out. In a pan, add shredded garlic, very small pieces of tomatoes, onions, green chillies (cut in very small pieces) and some coriander powder. Add the mashed brinjal in it and stir on fire till the spices mix well.
You are ready for a delicious meal of khichdi. Enjoy! 🙂