This dish was inspired by the Indian comfort food khichdi, which if I understood correctly can mean quite many things depending on the region and the cook, and is also known as kitchari especially among the ayurvedics in the US. It makes use of rice with some variety of pulses to form a complete meal, usually a stew or even a thick soup. The mushy mung beans add a lovely creaminess, and the spices I chose to add imparted a lot of flavor without being too hot or overwhelming – no wonder so many people consider khichdi as their comfort food of choice!
We enjoyed this dish with a side of lightly steamed broccoli and carrots, which were a nice sweet side with the flavorful stew. Before settling with my version I was happy to find Nupur’s lovely and thorough blog post about khichdi, and closely read through quite a few kitchari recipes. Heikki loved this dish and commented that kids would probably enjoy it as well – before he even knew that it’s often the first solid food introduced to children in India!
This is what I used (serves 3-4):
- 2 dl brown basmati rice, soaked for 2 hours (unsoaked cooks longer)
- 1 and 1/2 dl green mung beans, soaked overnight
- 1 or 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons each: ground coriander and cumin
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- pinch of asafoetida
- 6-8 dl water, and maybe more as needed
- sea salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons of vegan margarine
- 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste or lemon juice
I first heated the oil and fried the mustard seeds until they started to pop. Then I added the chopped ginger and fried it for a few seconds, followed with fennel, coriander, cumin and asafoetida, which I fried just until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Now, I added the rice and the beans along with about 6 dl of hot water and the turmeric, brought to boil, then lowered the heat and let the stew simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. I added a little bit of water as needed, but not too much – I didn’t want this to be a soupy stew.
When the rice was soft, I removed the pot from heat, and added in the margarine, tamarind paste, and salt to taste. I stirred the stew briskly with a ladle for a few minutes to mash some of the beans and make it a bit creamier, and then it was ready to be served.