Melange of Seasonal Vegetables, Lentils, Cashews & Basmati Rice (Khichari)
Khichari is a nutritious stew featuring dal and rice. There are two main varieties thin (geeli khichari) and thick (sookha khichari). Whichever way you prepare khichari, it will soon become a delicious favourite. The following recipe is for the thicker variety. Khichari is an ideal breakfast food, wonderful when accompanied by yogurt and fresh hot puffed fried breads (pooris) or toast.
I always serve khichari with a wedge of lemon or lime. Not only does this add a delightful nuance of flavour, but it lends nutritional advantage also: there are good sources of iron in the dal and vegetables in khichari, and the lemon juice, rich in vitamin C, helps your body absorb it. This recipe is mildly spiced. Adjust your own spicing as required. Serves 6-8.
1/3 cup split red lentils, or split moong
1 cup basmati or other long-grain white rice
3 tablespoons ghee or oil 1/3 cup cooked unsalted cashews
2 teaspoons cumin seeds 1 tablespoon fresh hot green chili, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger 1 teaspoon turmeric 1 teaspoon yellow asafetida powder
3 cups mixed vegetables, cut into large chunks 5 – 6 cups water 1½ teaspoons salt 1 tablespoon butter
2/3 cup cooked green peas
1 cup tomatoes, peeled and chopped
½ cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
Heat the ghee in a heavy 4-litre non-stick saucepan over moderate heat. Sprinkle the cumin seeds into the ghee. When they turn golden brown add the chilies and ginger. Saute them for a few seconds; then add the turmeric and asafetida. Add the vegetable pieces and fry them for a minute or two.
Stir in the lentils and rice, stirring with the spices and vegetables for a minute.
Pour in the water and bring to a full boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover and slowly cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until the lentils and rice are soft. If the khichari dries out too much, add up to 1 cup warm water.
Fold in the salt, butter, cooked green peas, chopped tomatoes, toasted cashews, and the chopped fresh coriander leaves, allowing them to warm for one minute. Serve hot.