Family Recipes,Indian Recipes,Main Courses

Poor man’s rich food: Kichidi with peas and cauliflower by Anjuli

Posted on 10-08-08 · Tags: , , , ,

Kichidi with peas and cauliflower

My parents met each other when my dad moved from India into my mother’s apartment building in Philadelphia. They were friends long before they started dating. My dad made my mother a lot of kichidi during their college years. Dad always made it with peas. Kichidi, khichhdi, khichdee in the South is simply rice and dal (lentils). In the North the dish was embellished to include cauliflower, peas, or other vegetables, and is called khichhuri. It’s all phonetic spelling anyways. Like the spelling, the dish is very open to interpretation as well, provided it’s cooked at home with love. Some further guidance…

When money is tight, like right now, cooking ethic cuisine, specifically Indian, makes you feel good and helps you save. Lentils and rice are staples all over, and when made with split beans and brown rice, they’re highly nutritious. Mix that in with the fat of the ghee (Indian clarified butter), a healthy dose of spice and flavor, and fresh vegetables, and you’ve got a comforting kiss-on-the-cheek-pat-on-the-head dinner in a pot.

Kichidi with peas and cauliflower

A word about rice: Organic is really important when it comes to rice because of the amount of pesticides otherwise used. Brown rice is better for you than white. White rice milling removes the husk, and with it most of the magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, and fiber. I was able to find the Indian Basmati for $4.29 a pound.

A word about moong: Moog dal (or Mung beans) is a highly nutritious Indian lentil with a mild, sweet flavor and a good source of protein. It’s green on the outside and yellow on the inside. Moong is available at Indian markets. Once cooked, the lentils break open and become a soft, sweet porridge. For cooking any Indian dal, the rules for prep are always wash repeatedly, rinse, and then time provided, soak the beans 4 hours ahead of time. Then cook the lentils on medium until they burst open. Never treat the water to make it acidic or alkaline while cooking the lentils, but it is great to flavor them with Indian or other spice.

A word about ghee: Ghee is an Indian clarified butter cooked until it caramelizes. Here’s my recipe on how to make it at home. Done properly, it’s caramel-y in both flavor and smell, is the most beautiful soft yellow, and becomes completely opaque and semi-solid. If made by the expert hands of an Indian grandmother it will keep for 100 years (conventionally bought for about a year). The majority of consumer brands, however, don’t take ghee to the point of caramelizing it due to the tricky nature of the process. You generally will see it with clumps of white floating in a piss-yellow lobster butter. This is NOT ghee. The only place I’ve seen it so far in New York is homemade at Kalustyan.

Kichidi with peas and cauliflower

Kichidi with peas and cauliflower

Serves 3

1/2 cup split moong dal
1/2 cup basmati organic brown rice
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 curry leaves (optional)
3 cloves (optional)
1/4 teaspoon tumeric

1 1/2 tablespoons ghee
1-2 cups vegetables (choose from one or a combination of peas, green beans, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash cut into equal pieces)
1 teaspoon black mustard seed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoon ginger, grated
Indian green chili or half a jalapeno (optional), seeded and minced or left into chunks
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Fresh coriander, 2 teaspoons once minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Wash the rice and dal under cold water until clear. Heat ghee in a saucepan on medium low. Saute the fennel seeds for a minute. Add the rice and dal and saute until the rice is opaque. Submerge the grains in water by about 2 inches. Add in the cloves, curry leaves, and tumeric, and stir. You can substitute bay leaves for the curry leaves, but remove them at the end. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn to low and put on the lid, cocked. Cook for 25-30 minutes, checking periodically to make sure the mixture isn’t sticking. The water should cook down, but if there’s no water add 1/2 cup. At this point it should be almost done, the dal is pulpy and the rice fluffy.

In a separate saute pan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons ghee on medium-high. Add in the cumin and mustard seed and allow to cook until the mustard turns gray and starts to pop out of the pan. This is called vagarifying. Once they pop, add in the ginger and chili (if using it) and cook for 20 seconds. Turn the heat down to medium and add in the vegetables. Cook until they are two thirds finished. For peas, this is about 30 seconds, for cauliflower about 10 minutes. Add in black pepper, salt, and coriander seed, and stir. Remove from heat

Add the vegetables back into the grains and cook on medium-low for 5 minutes more. Top with fresh coriander and lemon juice. Serve.

Kichidi with peas and cauliflower

  1. Micha wrote:

    This looks delicious! We’ve been thinking about making more Indian dishes, since the lentils are so good for us…this has tons of extra yummies too. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    October 8th, 2008 at 2:47 pm
  2. Andrea wrote:

    I love the purple and golden cauliflower! Did you get that the the Greenmarket? I saw it there the other day. I have french lentils in the coubord and I was going to ask you if I could just use those, but it sounds like having split moong dal is important. I really appreciate all the information on ingredients. I hope you continue to put more Indian recipes up. There’s no cuisine my fiance loves more and I have no idea how to cook it!

    October 9th, 2008 at 12:21 pm
  3. Anjuli wrote:

    Thanks Micha! Yea, my parents are followers of Ayurveda. While I am not, I am interested in its principles. This particular dish has a whole bunch of medicinal qualities, which I would summarize as being an easily digestible, soothing, and nutritious dish.

    October 9th, 2008 at 12:47 pm
  4. Anjuli wrote:

    Andrea, yea, the cauliflower looks awesome right now at the Greeenmarket. Indian can be intimidating because of all the steps, and there’s also a bit of ramp-up with the staples you need, but it is so much fun to make. And eat, of course. The moong is really important (doesn’t HAVE to be split) for the texture of the dish (you don’t usually cook a French lentil until it’s pretty much mush like Indian lentils), and compliments the ingredients better. I will definitely continue to post Indian recipes.

    October 9th, 2008 at 12:50 pm
  5. Rajani Mahadevan wrote:

    Hey Anju
    Khichdi never looked so appetizing! Absolutely awesome and great job! Great writing and awesome pictures..

    October 12th, 2008 at 6:47 pm
  6. Anjuli wrote:

    Rajani, I missed this comment until now. Thank you so much! I hope to see you at Christmas.

    December 10th, 2008 at 11:57 pm
  7. Penny Pruett wrote:

    Wow Anjuli, thanks for sharing your talent for cooking AND for teaching. I feel as though I can do anything with the way you explain what to expect (“ramp up of the staples you need”), and your added bits of real life (like your dad cooking kichidi w/peas in for your mom in college)! So much is added to the experience of cooking these recipies when a little bit of history is coupled with your “…but ah, c’est la vie – It’ll still keep for a year” attitude, I can’t *wait* to share these recipies with *my* family! (I learned so much about ghee, it’s a staple in my house now – home made, of course!)

    THE most awesome link I have ever navigated into! Thanks!

    July 10th, 2009 at 11:41 am
  8. Anjuli wrote:

    Hi Penny,
    Thanks for the positive feedback. I really think that the key to cooking is feeling comfortable in the kitchen with a whole wealth of knowledge that has come before us. That, and having the guts to just give it a try.

    Can’t wait to hear how some of the recipes turn out!

    July 13th, 2009 at 12:46 am
  9. Giff wrote:

    Love it!

    November 1st, 2013 at 11:17 am

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