Khichdi - Indian Comfort Food

If I could eat just two cuisines for most of my would have to be Indian and Vietnamese. 
I love them both. I love the all the amazing spice used in Indian cuisine and the fresh herbs and fish sauce of Vietnamese, so delicious.
Honestly, I don't make too many attempts at home to make Indian food, but my goal this year is dust off my Indian cookbooks and really dive in.

I stopped by a neighborhood Indian grocery the other day and it was a treat to leisurely stroll the aisles, looking at lots of familiar ingredients and not-so-familiar items. I picked up this huge bag of Khichdi and got busy. 
Khichdi is Indian comfort food and I remember having it some years ago, but had never made it at home. A great excuse to pull out my spices and stash of curry leaves in the freezer. Basically, it is a vegetarian dish of rice and lentils, similar to a porridge. It is said to be very nutritious and easy on the digestive system. Although it can be made without spice, this one a little spice and a bit of ghee. yum

I believe a lot of Indian cooks use pressure cookers regularly....which I don't have. I just cooked mine up in a regular pot. Warm, comforting and certainly a lot healthier that a big bowl of mac and cheese or pizza. One thing I did add {which isn't pictured below}, was a little drizzle of mint and cilantro chutney on top. I had purchased a jar at the Indian grocery and it added a little special zippiness to my bowl of Khichdi. While the jarred chutney was a reasonable substitute, it doesn't quite compare the freshness of homemade I've included a recipe for it from my friend and co-worker Deepa. I have made it before and it is easy and so tasty {and can have quite a spicy kick, so be warned!}

Here's to things that nourish our souls in 2015.

Makes 6-8 servings

2 cups khichdi mix
4 cups water
1 Tablespoon ghee
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cup chopped onion
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tablespoon finely chopped ginger root
6-8 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cups frozen peas

salt to taste
Fresh or jarred mint/cilantro chutney {see recipe below}

To make khichdi: 
Rinse the khichdi mix well with water until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside. In a medium pot, heat ghee and coconut oil over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds and allow to cook briefly until mustards seeds begin to pop. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add curry leaves, garam masala, cayenne, black pepper, salt and peas and cook for 30 seconds. Add khichdi mix and saute mixture for a minute or so. Pour in water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 35-40 minutes.
Season with more salt as desired. Serve and top with optional chutney.

Deepa's Coriander Chutney
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup coarsely chopped coriander (cilantro)
2 cups coarsely chopped mint leaves
1 onion, chopped
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon sugar
3-4 green chilies, seeds removed, coarsely chopped
sea salt to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until a smooth paste forms, occasionally scraping the sides with a rubber spatula. Add a little water as needed. Store in a non-reactive container.


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