Recipe: Mixed Vegetable Khitchidi
Khitchidi is a wonderful rustic rice and lentil preparation that is nutritious and healthy, and warms you to the core. Its base preparation combines the goodness of rice, split yellow moong beans, turmeric, with a hint of ghee – an Ayurvedic powerhouse of ingredients that are extremely good for the body. Yet, because of its simplicity it is often considered taboo to be served while entertaining. I believe that it represents a rustic, heart-felt ‘Welcome’ to your guests as it truly feeds the body and soul.
Each family has its own recipe; where the variations in spices and accompaniments make the difference. My maternal grandfather liked his with large dollops (yes, plural) of homemade ghee, his wife, my grandmother made it with onions and peas, and my father likes his with a freshly cracked egg cooked in the last few whiffs of steam on top of the hot Khitchidi.
This particular recipe is an adaptation of what we ate one Sunday afternoon in the winter wonderland of a Chicago suburb, at our dear friends’ the K family home, served with a simple side of yogurt and freshly fried Papad. The melt-in-your-mouth flavors are unbelievable and each time we eat this Khitchidi we wish for the company of the K family to make it a perfect meal.
Makes: 12 servings Diet: Gluten-free, Vegetarian Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
2 tblsp ghee 1 large white onion, slivered 1 tsp cumin seeds 2” ginger, finely slivered 1 tsp turmeric powder ¼ tsp garam masala powder 1 cup mixed vegetables, to include carrots, green beans, corn; blanched 1 small zucchini, peeled and diced 1 cup Basmati rice, rinsed and drained 1/2 cup split yellow Moong daal, rinsed and drained 2 1/2 cup boiling water 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved Salt, to taste
In a large heavy bottom saucepan with a tight fitting lid, heat the ghee until it melts. Add the cumin seeds and onions and cook until the cumin seeds sizzle and the onions are translucent. Add the ginger and cook this for 1 minute, until the ghee is infused with the ginger. Add the turmeric and garam masala powder, stir quickly and add the mixed vegetables and zucchini. Stir them in to ensure they are covered in spices and allow them to cook for a minute or two. Now add the rinsed basmati rice and split yellow moong daal and stir well for a 2 minutes with a flat spatula, taking care to not break the grain. Add the boiling water carefully to this and stir it in again to ensure that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Add the salt. Turn down the heat and allow the water to evaporate to half its level, stir it once to ensure the vegetables are evenly distributed and cover the pan to finish cooking undisturbed for another 15 minutes. Check in the doneness of the grains and add 1/4 cup more hot water if the grains are too dry and not fully uncooked. Add the halved cherry tomatoes and cover again to finish cooking for another 5-7 minutes. Serve warm with a side of Greek yogurt.
(This recipe features in Chapter 13, of A Dozen Ways to Celebrate)