Weeknight Cooking

A One-Pot Indian Comfort Food for Sickness & Health, Summer & Winter

April 27, 2016

For many Indians, khichdi—a one-pot meal of rice cooked with lentils and vegetables—is a comfort food and a diet staple. There are hundreds of recipes for preparing it and hundreds of ways of consuming it. Many Bengalis enjoy khichdi with an assorted platter of deep-fried vegetables and fried fish, while others serve it with either pickles or yogurt.

Because the only necessary ingredients are rice, lentils, vegetables, and a minimal amount of spices, it’s known as a poor man’s supper, satisfying for lunch or dinner. And many eat it during sickness, as it’s light and easy to digest.

I often feel like khichdi lives and rules the life of a Bengali. In West Bengal, khichdi season starts with monsoon season, in early summer. And in the fall, a sacramental khichdi is prepared for Durga Puja, a festival in honor of the Goddess Durga. In my parents' home in Kolkata, my mom prepares khichdi with winter vegetables when the temperature drops; during Saraswati Puja (a festival to worship the Goddess Saraswati) in February, she feeds about forty-something people out of one big pot.

Photo by Dolphia Nandi

Since coming to the U.S., khichdi has become a staple part of my diet, too. As a graduate student, I used to prepare a big batch to have on hand during finals. Since it requires very little supervision while it cooks, it was the easiest dish to make. It's filling and reheats nicely, which is why I still pack it as a lunch to bring to work.

Photo by Dolphia Nandi

The rice can be replaced with quinoa or bulgur, the lentils can be either yellow mung or red masoor, and any kind of seasonal vegetables (peas, tomatoes, asparagus, or green beans, for example) can be added.

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Whatever variation I make, I never forget to make potato fries to go with it.

What's your favorite one-pot comfort meal? Tell us in the comments!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Dastagir A. November 28, 2018
This is a regional dish and never cooked with brown rice. Also cooking time stated for brown rice is incorrect. In every region, and in every household all over India has its own recipe of ‘khichdi’ and the accompanying sides.
Rowan May 6, 2018
Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I usually throw mine together drawing from different recipies that I find online (and of course, whatever I have lying around in the kitchen), it’s so nice to have one on the website I trust most where food is concerned!
Beth January 13, 2017
Sounds good and I hope to try it soon! I'm curious: how do you pronounce Khichdi ? The first sound is just a "k" sound?
Ruhi G. June 19, 2018
Its "kh" is said like the Americans pronounce "C" in general, with a throaty h. I hope that helped.
Theresa ". January 13, 2017
This sounds delicious! I can't wait to try it. Rice and lentils is one of my favorite combinations, and you can never go wrong with potatoes. :D
Kayos May 16, 2016
I tried this tonight but the brown rice was nowhere near done after 20 mins, I've never known brown rice to take less than 40 mins on a good day. Also, I ended up with way too much liquid even after simmering for an hour. I was looking forward to it but had to toss it in the end, the lentils and vegetables were pretty much mush in the end. I followed the recipe to the letter (even made my own ghee!) so not sure what went wrong
Dolphia N. May 17, 2016
I am glad you've posted the comment. I did a test run on the recipe today after reading your post and edited the recipe. You can use less water if you want to consume it right away and use more if you want to refrigerate. This is a particular type of Indian khichdi recipe which is supposed to be not super spicy and consistency should be like porridge. Hope this helps.
Kayos May 17, 2016
Ok, thanks. I'll give it another shot sometime!
Super_cook April 29, 2016
It is confusing when you call it one pot dish and use many pots to cook. Do you mean to say served in one pot?
Dolphia N. May 17, 2016
An excellent question - I have edited the recipe and removed the skillet. You can toast the moong dal in the soup pot you're using.
dinaofdoom April 27, 2016
how is this a one pot dish? you're using a non-stick skillet and a heavy-bottom soup pot several times, plus a colander & bowl for the rice & a strainer for the lentils. that's a lot of stuff.

"one pot" usually means you're using one cooking vessel, resulting in easier cooking and cleanup.
Dolphia N. April 27, 2016
@Dinaofdoom: This is considered as one pot meal in Indian Cooking as Indian cooking is quite elaborate and extensive. During rainy and winter seasons, every chef (in my case mom) will bring a pot of Khichdi to the table and enjoy with other family members. Hope that clears your confusion.
Panfusine April 27, 2016
love this, Never tried the Bengali version of Khichdi yet! Awesome Dolphia!