BACK TO BLOG PAGE Tagged In

Vegetarian

My Grandmum’s Perfect Ghee Rice

My Grandmum’s Perfect Ghee Rice

Anjali Venugopal May 2, 2020 1 COMMENTS

Let’s face it, cooking rice perfectly is an art. Fine, long grained Basmati which holds its shape, does not get mushy and when you serve the meal, the rice grains have to fall perfectly on to the plate. It looks like my grandma cracked the code for perfectly cooked rice a long, long time ago. And this is her recipe for perfect and beautifully flavoured rice. I’d say it’s a little like a dessert recipe where you have to follow every instruction to the T to get the right results. Sure, it’s a tad time consuming but the end result is a 100% worth it if you, like me, are not a fan of mushy goo instead of perfect rice every single time. But I must warn you, this isn’t the easiest recipe. So, here goes.

Things you will need:

(Serves 3-4)

  • Long grained Basmati rice- 2 cups (I recommend you use a reasonably good quality brand of rice. As for the cup, I use the 1 cup measurement that I use while baking. But that doesn’t matter. Pick any cup/glass that you regularly use for measuring rice and use it as the measure for the entire recipe.)
  • Water- 4.5 cups (Now listen up, this is math. The ratio of rice to water for this recipe is 2 : 4.5. For every 2 cups of rice, you use 4.5 cups (the same cup!) of water. Use your calculator and work your way up if you’re cooking more rice. Just make sure you do NOT add more water than the specified amount. A little less works perfectly well. For instance the specified amount for 3 cups rice is 6.75 cups of water. DO NOT add any more than 6.75 cups, instead I would add just 6.5ish cups to be safe. Too much water is what gets the rice mushy and weird. This rule holds for good quality Basmati. If you’re using regular Basmati, water exactly double the quantity of rice is enough. So, for 2 cups rice, use 4 cups water.)
  • Ghee- 2 tablespoons (and a little extra for the last bits)
  • Cardamom- 4
  • Cloves- 4
  • Cinnamon- 1 inch stick
  • Bay leaf- 1
  • Star anise- 1 small
  • Salt to taste
  • Caramelized onions- 1 medium sized onion’s worth
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • Cashews- 8-10
  • A fork

How to go about it:

  1. First, wash the rice thoroughly twice in running water. Next, soak the rice in water and keep aside for 15 minutes. Keep the right quantity of water in a pot or kettle in the meantime.
  2. Once the soaking time is up, drain the rice rice well using a strainer. Keep aside for another 10 minutes or until the rice is nice and dry.
  3. Now, it’s time to cook. Keep a pot big enough to cook the rice on medium heat and add the ghee. Once the ghee is hot, add the whole spices (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and anise). Saute for about 30 seconds or until the flavours release into the hot ghee.
  4. Keep the water to boil separately. Important to have boiling water for this recipe.
  5. While the water boils, you add the soaked and strained rice (yes, the raw rice) to the ghee. Then you must saute the rice lightly. Make sure all grains are coated with the ghee and keep sauteing the rice till the rice grains begin to feel a little crunchy to the touch. Make sure you do this sauteing bit without using too much power because it is important not to break the grains of rice in the process. Do it lightly.
  6. Next, add the boiling water to the pot, salt to taste, mix it up to make sure there are no rice clumps in between. Increase the heat a slight bit more and cook the rice (with the pot uncovered) until the rice is al dente (just about 80% cooked), there is still a bit of moisture left in the pot (meaning all the water has not completely evaporated). At this point, take the pot off the heat, drizzle a couple of TEASPOONS of melted ghee to the rice and lightly stir it all up with a fork. Next, keep the pot closed with the lid and place something heavy on top of the lid. I usually put my mortar and pestle on top as weight. The rice has to sit completely undisturbed this way for 20 minutes.
  7. So, while the rice sits for the 20 minutes, you can caramelize your onion. Keep aside. Lightly fry the coriander leaves in a tablespoon of cooking oil or ghee and keep aside. Fry the cashews in ghee or oil and keep aside.
  8. Once the 20 minutes is up, stir up the rice grains (lightly again) using a fork making sure you don’t break up the grains too much. Top with the caramelized onions, cashews and coriander. Serve warm with a meat curry or vegetable curry and raita. This recipe gets easier with practice, I promise 🙂
Spicy One Pot Vegetable Pilaf

Spicy One Pot Vegetable Pilaf

Anjali Venugopal December 9, 2018 NO COMMENTS

7add9f1c-970f-456d-8676-a646c19861a9

Hello hello!

Here I am, sitting in the warmth of my little apartment in Vienna alone, on a cold, dreary Sunday with my mug of oatmeal and almond milk; my staple breakfast ever since I moved to Europe and figured dairy and I could no longer remain friends. I have a long list of things to do and errands to run before I head back home to Kerala, which I jotted down on a flimsy bit of paper staring right back at me almost as if to remind me that I need to buck up. Our yearly trip back home is something I look forward to, all year. People all around keep asking me if I miss living in India and honestly, the answer to that is no. However, what I do miss is the familiarity of the surroundings in my hometown Trivandrum; the joys of living in a home where your mum runs the kitchen; the fact that you can let the child inside you run free for a few, short, glorious days; no responsibilities, no “adulting.”

Anyway, let me get to the point. One question that I get almost on a daily basis is how I manage to “stay fit” in spite of loving food with a passion like no other. Today, given the fact that quite a number of us have health and weight issues  or even gastroenteritis issues at very young ages, I am going to let you into one of the basic rules in my mum’s kitchen; a rule that has travelled with me to my own kitchen; a rule I would love for each of your kitchens to embrace; and a rule that I give almost all the credit to for “staying fit”. It is simple. “You can eat whatever you like, as long as it is cooked at home.” Sounds tedious? It honestly isn’t, just hear me out.

All through my childhood, every celebration or festival, every birthday or anniversary in the house would invariably hear my mother utter this one question. “What would you like to eat?” All our meals, sweets, cakes, desserts, snacks, everything was homemade, every single time. Eating out was a feat that we as a family resorted to only maybe once in a year or maybe even two.  I admit there must have a time or two when I felt a tad jealous of my friends at school who would innocently brag about their weekly (and sometimes daily) family outing for dinner or the Chinese take out that would more often than not have a place in their lunch boxes the next day. At the same time my lunch box would have a humble but fresh meal cooked by my mum’s soft hands early in the morning and almost always boiled rice, some stir fried vegetables and a small cup of yoghurt. The little lunch box wrapped with a frayed lunch towel and generously doused in love I can still feel tugging at my heart so many years later.

That may bring you to a couple of questions. Why make the effort if you can just takeout? Why bother to cook a meal in these days when one has no time even to catch a decent shut eye? It’s food at the end of the day, does it matter if it’s cooked at home or in the restaurant?

Let me explain.

The thing about a home cooked meal is that you know every single ingredient that goes into the dish and in turn into your body. You will know for certain the meat is fresh, the vegetables washed and clean; you even get to choose the oil that works for you and you will for certain know that it’s not refried oil (a major carrier of carcinogens research says) that you are putting into your body. Anyone who has ever deep fried stuff at home knows the sheer quantity of oil that goes to waste later. Do you honestly think the restaurants throw out the oil every single time to make way for fresh oil for every dish they serve? I might think not.

Next, let me address the time constraint. One thing my mum always tells me is this. Every soul on earth gets not a minute more than 24 hours a day. What you want to do with those 24 long hours is solely up to you and I do not mean to coax you to whip up a storm every single day. But how about starting with something as simple as stir fried veggies or grilled chicken or some simple dal with or without rice or anything else that you may fancy? Scramble a few eggs with onions and green chilies maybe? A one pot rice vegetables and meat? We live in a time when you have the world at your fingertips. There is never a dearth of easy, ten minute recipes on the internet, correct? So how about keeping aside half an hour for a home cooked meal? Everyday meals DO NOT have to be fancy and instagrammable, they just need to fill you with goodness. I understand that cooking does not come naturally to all of us but it really is a life skill just for survival and your own health’s sake.

Long story short, at the wake of a new year when we are all looking for resolutions to take up, how about deciding to keep aside a tiny portion of your day for a warm, home cooked meal? This does not mean that you do not stay away from the restaurants in toto; let’s just resolve to not let it be the norm. Please don’t forget to come back and thank me when you see the inches on your waist falling and your tummy less rumbly. This year, let’s resolve to make home cooked meals fashionable again 🙂

On that note, here is a recipe for an easy Spicy One Pot Vegetable Pilaf.

img_7397

Things you will need:

(Serves 4)

  • Basmati Rice- 2 cups (washed and drained)
  • Onion- 1 large chopped finely
  • Tomato- 1 large chopped
  • Ginger- 1 tablespoon julienned
  • Potato- 1 large cubed
  • Carrots- 1 large cut into semi circles
  • (Add whatever vegetables you may like. Broccoli, cauliflower etc)
  • Whole Coriander seeds- 1 teaspoon
  • Whole black peppercorns- 1 teaspoon
  • Cinammon- a 2 inch stick
  • Cumin/jeera seeds- ½ teaspoon
  • Cloves- 4
  • Green cardamom- 3
  • Bay leaves- 2
  • Green chilies- 2 slit
  • Kashmiri chili powder- 1.5 teaspoon
  • Turmeric- ½ teaspoon
  • Corinader powder- 2-3 teaspoon
  • Garam masala powder- 1 teaspoon
  • Boiling Water- a little more than double the quantity of rice
  • Cooking oil
  • Ghee- optional
  • Salt

 

How to go about it:

  1. In a large heavy bottomed wok, heat three tablespoons of cooking oil on medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon and bay leaves. Sauté for about 20 seconds.
  2. Add the chopped onion and sauté until it gets nice and golden brown (important). Next goes in the ginger. Sauté for half a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and the green chilies, mix well and keep the wok closed for two minutes or until the tomatoes are soft.
  3. Add the spice powders and salt to taste and keep sautéing until the mixture looks homogeneous and the oil starts to separate. Add the vegetables and turn it all around in the wok. Keep the wok closed for about 30 seconds.
  4. Next, add the washed and drained rice. Mix well but be careful so as to not break the grains of rice and keep sautéing for about two minutes.
  5. Add the boiling water, mix well and keep the wok closed until the water is almost drained. Take off from the heat, drizzle some ghee and keep the wok closed for about 20 minutes before serving.
  6. Serve warm with raita, pickle and pappad.

 

 

Stir Fried Carrots in Chilli Onion Paste

Stir Fried Carrots in Chilli Onion Paste

Anjali Venugopal June 3, 2017 NO COMMENTS

IMG_4590

 

My love and passion for home cooked meals is not something that germinated in my veins overnight. I grew up in a household that took (and still continues to take) home cooking extremely seriously; to the extent that I can with the help of a negligible amount of effort to back me up, recall practically all the occasions my family has eaten out during my childhood. Both my Amma and my grandma are fantastic cooks with a convincing belief in a fact that they have proved time and again; that a wholesome, home cooked meal is the secret to fitness and good health. And this is possibly what got me hooked to the idea that the tastiest food, the food that gives a nudge to all your five senses, the food that lingers on in your mind for days after you have tasted it, can be whipped up within the confines of your own kitchen while you have absolute control over the quality and the quantity of every ingredient that goes into the wok.

Good food has always been held in great regard in my home; where every dish prepared is critically evaluated; praised when it was called for and criticized (constructively of course) otherwise; where a lot of love and effort goes into the preparation of a meal. As a Hindu household in Kerala, it should come as no surprise when I tell you that we have and continue to celebrate festivals of all other religions alike. I use the term ‘Hindu’ with caution, lest I should be brought within the ambit of the sheer mockery our country, headed by fanatic goons masquerading as saviours of this pure and noble way of life, propels today, shamelessly under the guise of this term. No, I am not one of them. And proudly so.

Let me not unnecessarily venture into areas that make my blood boil.

The term ‘celebration’ in my home had one, and only one meaning and that was to make a delicious, home cooked meal. I still see the twinkle in Amma’s eye when she brings up suggestions such as “maybe we should buy some tender mutton for Christmas” or “how about we prepare a yummy biryani for Eid?”

That would be followed by all of us sitting down together for lunch, laughing, smacking our lips in delight and wiping our plates clean. This practice went on meticulously for all the years I was at home and in all probability counts for a large chunk of the fondest of memories I hold within. Ah those were the days!

Today I share with you yet another incredibly easy recipe which you can whip up with around three ingredients. The base for this yummy recipe is something a lot of us don’t find too exciting; carrots. This has been a favourite dish all through my childhood and I have lost track of the number of times, Amma packed me this for lunch. Till rather recently, I was completely unaware of the possibilities of having this with anything else but rice, or Chapattis. A friend tried this recipe out and came up with the option of using this in a sandwich with some grated cheese. So, the possibilities are many, try it out and keep me posted as always.

Things you will need:

  • Carrots- 4 or 5 large ones (Chopped into round disks, not too fat)
  • Onion- 1 medium sized
  • Dried red chillies- 4-5 (vary according to heat tolerance)
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt

 

How to go about it:

  1. Grind the onion and the dried red chillies to form a roughly smooth paste.
  2. Heat some cooking oil in a wok, add the chopped carrots and the onion paste to it with adequate salt. Stir well to make sure the paste is evenly distributed. Add about ¼ glass of water, keep the wok closed and let the carrots cook well.
  3. Once the carrots are cooked, get the excess water to evaporate. Once that is done, add a bit more oil and nicely fry up the carrots. This should take about ten minutes or maybe a slight bit more. The key to this recipe is to make sure the onion paste is nice and brown, since this is what gives it that lovely flavour. So, as I always tell you, patience is the key 🙂

That was easy as pie wasn’t it? Serve with rice or chapatis and dal or even as a sandwich topping with some grate cheese. Yum Yum. This dish is quite a favourite in my part of the world and I feel it deserves a lot more. So try it out, and let me know!

 

Fried Eggplant in Coriander Chilli paste

Fried Eggplant in Coriander Chilli paste

Anjali Venugopal May 16, 2017 NO COMMENTS

IMG_4024Getting to leave work when the sun is still out is a lovely feeling. Also, this is something which I promise to never take for granted considering all the frowns (and mumbles) that I have had to put up with in India, if and when I ever had the audacity to as much as walk out of the office door any minute before the wee hours of the night (or morning). Yesterday, as I was skipping down the winding stairs in the old, beautiful Viennese structure that houses my workplace a little past 5, I gulped when I realized that this would have been treated as nothing but a half a day’s worth of work in India. This thought nudged that sense of gratitude in me for letting me escape the monotony in that part of the world where ‘work-life balance’ is just an unholy, fictional term which is never to be uttered and is treated almost at par with the term ‘remuneration’. On giving it a second thought, I think ‘remuneration’ still takes the gleaming trophy.

We live in a world where it is somehow illogically unpardonable to speak about money at your work place, lest you should be seen as “money minded”. When being confident of your own worth (on monetary terms, of course) was deemed to be an outright crime I will never know. So, in short, once you decide to take up an employment in an organization, you are expected to erase from your memory the fact that you have a home to go back to; the fact that you have people in your life who would want (maybe need) a fraction of your time every day; the fact that you had something called a ‘life’ right before you made up your mind to inscribe your initials onto that sheet of white paper with fine print which is your employment contract. And all this without being as much as concerned about the sum that is expected to hit your bank accounts (hopefully) by the end of every month? Really now?

I am not one to preach about high flying deals like “quit your job and travel the world”. On a side note, I have always thought that such ideas are nothing but absurd, and propounded by kids who have a tad too much in their respective bank accounts all thanks to the gold plated spoons they were born with in their mouths; gold that came from the lives of toil their parents lived. Coming from an upper middle class family, I don’t need to be taught about the importance of being able to fund for yourself and for the people you love. I do not need to be taught the sheer delight a well-earned pay cheque brings. All that bothers me is the fact that the term profession and all that it stands for in our world today, is seldom seen as the ‘means to the end’; the end which is your happiness. Instead, it is seen as the end in itself and that my friend, I feel is ridiculous.

Yesterday, as I walked back home from the subway station in the warm sunshine, with the lovely, cool spring wind on my face, I felt strangely content. I was happy to go back to our warm, cosy little apartment while the sun still streamed in; while I was still pepped up as opposed to my Indian law firm days when all I would have the energy to do once I got back home in the dead of the night was to change in to my pyjamas before hitting the sack. I was in such a light mood as I got back home, that I wanted to cook something elaborate for dinner. So, I changed into one of my oversized tees and a clean pair of stone washed denims, made a visit to the supermarket round the corner, came back home and prepared a feast for the two of us, opened a can of beer each, chattered about my day to the Husband, watched a movie and went to bed early. This was the kind of day I had always dreamt of while in India. And today, as I live the dream, I cannot help but wish the same for every one of us.

Anyway getting down to business. A lot of you had written to me with suggestions for the blog and I could not be any happier. Something that I come across a tad too often is that I should concentrate more on vegetarian dishes and this is something I plan to take up very seriously. So today, I share with you a recipe to a vegetarian dish which you can whip up in practically no time. This is something I chanced upon during my pursuits to get to something more complicated which a friend of mine had suggested. Although I did not quite get the dish I had in mind quite straight, what came out of the experiment was delicious. So, here goes.

What you will need:

  1. Brinjal/Aubergines/Eggplant- 250 gms (cut into long pieces)
  2. Coriander leaves- 1 small bunch
  3. Green chilies- 4 or 5 (vary according to your heat tolerance levels)
  4. Turmeric powder- ¼ tsp
  5. Cooking oil
  6. Salt
  7. Curry leaves (optional)

 

How to go about it.

  1. Make a smooth paste of the coriander and the green chilies and keep aside.IMG_3949
  2. Heat some cooking oil in a wok and temper some curry leaves. Add the cut eggplant to the wok and sauté well. Add the salt and turmeric, mix well and keep the wok closed to make sure the eggplants are cooked well. Once they turn soft, add a bit more oil in case you feel the wok is running dry, and fry the aubergines till they are almost well done. This should take about 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Add the coriander chili paste and mix well. Fry the eggplants well in the paste till you lose the raw flavour of the coriander.IMG_3955
  4. All you need to do for this recipe is to make sure that the eggplants are fried well. They taste the best when they are fried till they are a step away from burnt.IMG_3960

Your eggplants fried in coriander chili paste is ready and tastes great with some hot rice and dal (lentil curry). Give it a try and let me know 🙂

 

 

 

 

Tastes like home, Part 2: Kerala style Parippu Curry, traditional lentil curry from Kerala

Tastes like home, Part 2: Kerala style Parippu Curry, traditional lentil curry from Kerala

Anjali Venugopal March 27, 2017 NO COMMENTS

IMG_2645

All our 16 year old selves have been found guilty of wanting to grow up, be independent and leave home eventually. The rules, the curfews, and the choices our parents made were never good enough for us. Life was “boring” as we called it. Especially for an upper middle class teen like me, the city wasn’t as “happening” as I would have liked and incessantly dreamt of a “cool” life in a bigger city.

My dream was to find my way, by hook or crook, out of that lovely, green corner I was born and raised in, which is home to the most beautiful rain I have witnessed; where it is commonplace to wake up listening to the birds outside your window at dawn; where it is the norm to know the entire neighbourhood by their first names; where twilight is welcomed by the soft scents of agarbati, where my happy family sat on the verandah, watching the sun go down, sharing a joke and laughing to our hearts content, where Amma would make a stern reminder about our homework at 7 PM on the dot as though she had some sort of alarm clock embedded in her system. A couple of hours of fiddling with my homework would mean dinner time and food would miraculously appear on the dining table and all I ever had to do was show up, washed and clean. Amma would serve the usual staple of some boiled rice, sautéed seasonal veggies tempered with a hint of coconut and some spicy fish curry or even some fried fish on the good days. My sole duty was to quietly wipe my plate clean but no! I would choose to make a fuss, making a face at the veggies and maybe even throw a verbal tantrum as I grew older. All this would last till Amma’s patience snapped or when she would just beckon to my dad to come take care of the situation, when all of a sudden, silence would fall like those thick velvety curtains back in my school auditorium. To think this was the life I wanted to run away from…

Somehow, in our eternal pursuit behind what will be instead of what is, maybe we lost out on the sweetest fruits of life. Today as we sit, laboring away at a corporate job, staring into the computer screens for hours at a stretch, nibbling at a sandwich made of some dry bread for lunch, struggling to pay our bills, craving for a warm plate of mom-cooked food, how many of us can say honestly that we are indeed happy? And how many of us would trade the lives we lead now to go right back to your wooden study desks at home racking your brain to somehow make sense of the quadratic equation staring back at you from those single lined note books, while you fiddled with the new gel pen that you proudly got for yourself after saving up 10 rupees from your pocket money?

Well, one can wish. As somebody once said, we are the oldest we have ever been and the youngest we will ever be, and keeping that in mind let us resolve not live in the past or whine about the present. I have realized that there are few things a warm, tasty meal cannot solve. Let me arm you with a simple recipe to combat that yearning to go right back in time to your mom’s kitchen waiting for her to serve you dinner. This is a Kerala style lentils dish that is extremely popular in my part of the world. This goes best with some hot, white rice with a generous spoonful of ghee drizzled on it.

Things you will need:

1. Moong dal (aka Mung bean, green gram)- half cup (peeled and spilt)
2. Coconut- 2 table spoons (grated or desiccated)
3. Cumin seeds- ½ teaspoon
4. Turmeric powder- ½ teaspoon
5. Green chilli- 1
6. Ghee- as your heart desires
7. Mustard seeds and dried red chillies (curry leaves if available) for tempering

How to go about it

1. In a pressure cooker, dry roast the moon dal for about 4 minutes or till you start to get the lovely, roasted aroma of the dal.
2. Add three times the amount of water and a tablespoon of ghee to the dal and pressure cook it for around 4 whistles on a medium heat. (dal: water = 1:3)
3. In the meanwhile, grind the coconut, green chilli, cumin seeds and the turmeric powder to form a nice smooth paste. Keep that aside.
4. After 4 whistles, keep the pressure cooker aside to let the pressure release naturally.
5. After the pressure is released, using a whisk, mash the dal very well to make the consistency even. You may also use the back of a large spoon for the same.
6. Add some more water if you feel the dal has become too thick for your liking. Put the cooker back on the heat, sans the lid, add the paste, stir well and bring to a boil.
7. While that is being done, heat a bit of ghee in a pan and temper the mustard seeds and dried chillies (and curry leaves if available). Add this to the dal, mix well and enjoy your happy meal.

Tastes Like Home, Part 1: Dal Khichdi

Tastes Like Home, Part 1: Dal Khichdi

Anjali Venugopal February 25, 2017 2 COMMENTS

img_1990

‘Home’ is one word that can trigger a myriad of emotions in us; especially ones like me, living in faraway lands hoping to get a solid grip of the real adult life. There is something about twilight that invariably reminds me of all things home. Just as I watch the sun bid adieu outside my window, I cannot help but reminisce about my own little corner in the world, where I was taught that ‘love’ was the answer to all the questions life had to throw at you.

I get carried away to the laughter, the fun, the fights and the tears the walls of my home have witnessed through the years. I can just close my eyes, take a deep breath and I can smell my pillow who has seen more tears than I would like to admit to; I can feel the warm rice porridge seasoned with nothing but a pinch of salt on my lips fed to me by my amma’s soft hands when I came down with that wretched flu when I was 8; I can feel the taste of that crisp, raw mango my granddad plucked for my sister and me, from the neighborhood tree, which we relished with some chilli powder and salt with a dash of coconut oil; I can see my dad helping me out with my first set of tube paints; I even remember vividly the first sip of beer I had with him; I can see myself in my new pink and black frilly dress ready to celebrate my sister’s second birthday; even the first swing my dad put up for me on the chikoo tree behind my house; I can almost see myself at my granny’s knee listening to her ramblings of her first time on a ship. In fact, I can even see myself at my first formal date with the Husband, many years ago by the sea nibbling on a plate of chicken stir fried in some oriental flavours.

However, coming to think of it, I realize that the concept of ‘home’ has little to do with the structure of your house. It is the memories you have made all your life with the people you love without realizing you were making them. But to me, food plays a serious role in bringing back these memories. I associate a great deal of nostalgia with every bite I take and it is no secret that every time I miss home, a good home cooked meal helps to alleviate the emotional turmoil at least by 20%. Well, that is how it works for me.

There are days when I am moody beyond human comprehension and the only thing I want to do, is devour a plate of hot rice with amma’s spicy fish curry. There are other days when I sense a void, when nothing but a plate of some steaming hot momos, drenched in that killer sauce can satiate my soul. I come to realize that every single place I have spent a reasonable amount of my time at, has something to contribute to what I call ‘my idea of home food’. I have seen a considerable portion of India, ever since I left home at 17 and each of the cities I have had to spend a fraction of my life in, have in some way or the other affected my taste buds and the way I see food in general.

When I left home in 2007, my palate could not have been more mallu. All I craved for, day in and day out, was some boiled rice, stir fried vegetables and the mackerel curry. However, at some point in my life, it dawned on me that my palate has evolved and that there are days when I crave for that Andhra Chili Chicken from Nagarjuna on Residency Road, in Bangalore. There are other days when I all want is a plate of Rajma Chawal from my hostel in Delhi. Or maybe just some rich Dal and that sweet Kadhi that is lovingly served at Mayur Thali on JM Road, in Pune. Maybe this signifies that all these cities have, in some way or the other, altered my definition of home and have broadened it to include the love that is served in the form of food in our incredibly diverse nation; and this being solely because I may have unlocked certain cockles of my heart when I unknowingly felt at home in the nooks and corners of these places that warmly took me in.

So, today I share with you my recipe for a dish that is so warm and wholesome that it could arguably be the number 1 comfort food for many of us; the Dal Khichdi. It took me many years to comprehend that the sick man’s khichdi had a yummy variation too. Here I share with you, the not so sick man’s version of the simplest Dal Khichdi. Whip up a plate of this for yourself, and feel at home!

Things you will need:

  1. Masoor dal- ½ cup (red split lentils)
  2. Basmati rice- ½ cup
  3. Turmeric powder- ½ teaspoon
  4. Chilli powder- less than ¼ teaspoon
  5. Onion- 1 medium sliced finely
  6. Garlic- 4-5 pods sliced finely
  7. Ghee- as you may deem fit
  8. Water- 4-5 cups
  9. Mustard seeds, dried red chillies- for tempering

 

How to go about it

  1. In a pressure cooker, add the rice and the dal (1:1 ratio) along with the turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt and one tbsp of ghee. Add 4-5 cups of water. (I prefer my khichdi nice and gooey) Let it cook on a low flame for about 5 whistles. After the whistles, keep the cooker aside and allow the pressure to drop on its own.
  2. In the meantime, in a pan, heat some cooking oil and temper the mustard seeds and the red chillies. Once tempered, sauté the onions and the garlic till they turn nice and brown and start giving out that wonderful garlicky aroma.
  3. Once the pressure has dropped, whisk the rice and dal well to achieve an even consistency. Add the tempered onions and garlic to the khichdi and mix well. Drizzle some ghee on your khichdi in the end and your khichdi is ready to be pounced on.