Khichuri is the ultimate comfort food for me. This humble dish is a staple in most households in India and every time I make it, I am transported back to Calcutta, where I had this dish a lot while growing up.
To me khichuri is synonymous with the Monsoons, when the rains would lash the city, flooding the streets with knee-deep water, and make going to the market impossible! So, you to had to make do with whatever was in your pantry and khichuri was the perfect solution for that!
This is also the quintessential dish that is served at every religious occasion in my city, when all your friends and relatives come over to take part in the religious festivities at your home.
This recipe is closely based on how my grandmother used to make it - a little spicy, a little tart, with a touch of sweetness that we Bengalis are known for, and over all, utterly delicious! Try it sometime! :) —Madhuja
mung dal (skinned and split mung beans)
tejpatta (Sold in Indian grocery stores as "Indian bay leaf")
Russet potato, cubed into 1" pieces
head of a large cauliflower, cut into small florets
freshly grated ginger
freshly grated coconut (could substitute with unsweetened dessicated coconut)
frozen peas, thawed
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Vegetable oil for sauteing
Ghee (could be substituted with butter)
On medium heat, in a dry wok, add the mung dal and toast until it changes color to a light brown and becomes very aromatic. Keep stirring frequently while you toast the dal - don't let it burn! Once the dal changes color, add 3 cups of water, add the bay leaves, bring it to a boil, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, add the rice, one teaspoon of Kosher salt and another 3 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover with a lid and cook for another 10 minutes.
While the dal starts boiling, start sauteing your vegetables. In a large skillet, on medium heat, add about 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. When the oil starts shimmering, add the cumin seeds and ginger paste and saute for a few seconds. The ginger is going to splatter like crazy, so be careful! Add the potatoes, cauliflower, turmeric, cayenne and one teaspoon of Kosher salt and saute until the veggies are evenly browned on all sides. This should take about 20 minutes or so.
Once the rice has cooked for 10 minutes, add all the vegetables into the wok, scraping the skillet to get all the spices. Add the tomatoes, mix well, cover with a lid and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Check frequently to make sure that there is enough water in the wok and the khichuri is not getting stuck at the bottom.
Meanwhile, in the same skillet, add another teaspoon of oil and saute the coconut until it gets browned at the edges and becomes very aromatic. Set aside.
After the vegetables have cooked in the wok for 10 minutes, check to see if they are done. At this point, both the rice and dal should be cooked through and about to turn mushy, and the tomatoes should have disintegrated. Add the sauteed coconut, raisins, peas, sugar, zest and juice of the lime. Mix well. I like my khichuri to have the consistency of risotto, so I let it cook with the lid off until the texture is just right. Taste for seasoning. Mix in the ghee just before serving. Enjoy immediately with your favorite vegetable fritters, papads and extra wedges of lime!