Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Khichree - The Bong style (Khichuree)

For everyone, Khichree has been a comfort food since ages. Its history can be traced back to the Mughals. I am quite interested to know how the food of the nawabs transcended to become 'food of the sick' and is served in ALL hospitals. Whenever someone is sick, he is advised to have only khichree. Moms, grandmoms, great-grandmoms, uncles, aunts, elder sisters - all have prescribed this dish the moment you utter that you are feeling a bit down in the belly.

There are several variants to this dish but what is remarkable is how the bengalis tend to make merry with food and happen to change this plain and sad looking, 'dish of the sick' to a gourmet delicacy! They relish khichree on a rainy day with accompaniments like papads, beguni (brinjal fry), mashed potatoes, ghee and illish Machh bhaaja (hilsa Fish fry). I like mine with an Omlette! There is a strong superstition in my family - whenever it rains, make khichree and see the rain dissappear! I have never understood why this happens with us, but it is true. The clouds stop pouring the moment they get the aroma of my heavenly smelling Khichree :)). So, here is what you require:

1 Cup of Moong Dal
1 Cupe of Rice
7 Tbsps of Peas
3 poratoes - cut into halves
6-7 florets of Cauliflower
1 tiny piece of crushed ginger
1 onion cut broadly
1-2 Bay leaves
2 Tsp Turmeric
2-3 Green chillies
3 cardamoms, 2 cinnamon, 6 cloves
2 Tsps of Garam Masala
2 Tsp of Cumins seeds

Take a large bottomed frying pan and add the moong dal. Roast the moong dal slightly till golden brown. Once you see that the dal is turning a bit brown, remove it and wash it in cold water. Wash the rice and put it in a pressure cooker along with the Dal. Add the potatoes, Turmeric, salt, sugar and green chillies and close the lid. Let the cooker whistle for 4-5 times and switch of the gas. Let the cooker cool down. Alternatively, you could use a heavy bottomed pan and cook it slowly for 15mins - till the dal and rice gets cooked.

Now, take a separate frying pan and add the ghee. When the ghee gets hot, add the cloves, cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon and the chopped onions. Now, add the caulifower florets, green peas and stir-fry them in the ghee. Add the cumin and ginger and fry till the onions are brown. Now, add the khichree from the cooker and pour a bit of water to regulate the consistency. Let it simmer for 5-6mins. Add the garam masala powder.
Serve it with hilsa fish fry or papad or beguni.

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