There’s something comforting about a rice and lentil porridge that just makes me holistically feel good. I think Naram (creamy) Khichadi (khitch-ri) is infused within each of my cells. If a month goes by and they haven’t gotten a taste of some khichadi,they begin radiating signals and I begin to crave for it.
If you’ve seen my Instagram posts, you know I make khichadi quite often. Per your requests—and thank you for the encouragement, I am posting the recipe for this down home dish with a slight twist today. I never thought the day would come when khichadi, would be requested by so many! I think my nani (maternal grandmother) would be in shock if she knew that a dish she would dare not serve at a dinner party, is now loved across many cultures.
Like daal (lentil soup), the are several khichadi variations. However, the base is always moong daal and a grain—traditionally, basmati rice. Naram Khichadi or just Khichadi as we refer to it in our home, is similar to Bhuni Khichadi. It is soft, moist and easy on the digestion. The difference between the two are the consistency, spices and they type of moong. The consistency is similar to soft polenta, grits, or cream of wheat—porridge like. Spices, well, there are no spices. Yes, no spices (traditionally)—just ghee. I mean, what else do you need! The other difference is the type of moong. For this dish, the moong is also split, but retains the skin. This adds an earthier taste, to this simple variation and a bit more fiber. If you are using this recipe after or prior to a cleanse, I would recommend using moong without the peel to be extra sensitive to the digestive process.
After I moved away from home and began making khichadi for myself, I learned that the secret is in the final step, when the ghee is added—the whip! The ‘whip’ will takes this from khichadi to grandma’s khichadi—if you know what I mean.
I remember watching my nani and mom hand whip the ghee directly in the pot of cooked khichadi. With a wooden spoon, they would rapidly stir left, then right and repeat and repeat as steam oozed over their faces and slightly frizzed up their wavy hair. They ‘whipped’ the khichadi for a good three to four minutes depending on the quantity and until the rice, lentils and fat melded together. Making it extra smooth, creamy and adding a bit lighter.
The whip slightly emulsifys the ingredients, but more importantly it adds the element of air to this earthy + watery dish. Making it less heavy while still retaining the richness in flavor. I like to think of the whip like a breeze, that makes a stagnant river flow.
The ‘whip’ will workout the arms, it may require a couple breaks and perhaps even a pat down of the face as the steam opens up the pores. At one, point I was like is it really necessary? Until I realized the difference in taste. The whip, like moong, quinoa, salt and ghee is another ingredient. It give the dish soul, heart and incorporates the key nutrient love. So put your back into it and whip it good!
Creamy Quinoa Khichadi with Cumin Ghee
This khichadi can be enjoyed as is, with a dollop of yogurt, or milk (my Dad’s way), with achaars (spicy pickles), a curry, veggies, or a little bit of each—the toppings are endless. It can even be enjoyed for breakfast. I think it would be delicious as a savory porridge topped with some seeds, or greens and an egg—maybe I’ll post a another recipe. Who says khichadi is for lunch or dinner only.? Cook with love. Eat with love.
Tastes: Sweet, Salty, Astringent
Time: 60 mins
What you need: a 3 or 4 quart pot
- 1 cup moong daal (split with skin)
- 1/4 cup quinoa*
- 3 1/2 + 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt or mineral-rich sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon (heaping) ghee
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- stirred yogurt
- shishito peppers & julienned carrots with toasted coriander powder
1. Rinse and soak moong and quinoa overnight if possible (20 mins. minimum)
2. In the pot, add 3 1/2 cups water and strained, soaked moong and quinoa. Place the pot over medium high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to boil, skim off any foam on top and lower heat so it continues to simmer while covered. If it boils over, lower the heat to medium or keep the lid slightly open. About 25 mins.
3. After 25 minutes, the lentils and quinoa will have expanded and tripled in size. More than 1/2 of the water will have absorbed. Lower the heat to medium-low, add the salt and stir. Cook for another 15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes to ensure it does not stick to the pot. Adjust heat if needed.
4. After 15 minutes, check to see if the lentils have completely broken down. Add an additional 1/2 cup of warm water if needed. If it ends up too much water you can cook it a bit longer to burn off the water. Khichadi tends to thicken as it sits, so don’t worry if its too much water. Better for it to be cooked all the way through. I often need the extra 1/2 cup, otherwise I end up with a stiff khichadi. The cook time and water can vary depending on the altitude, soak time or lentils. If no water is needed, lower the heat to low and cook for another 15 mins—checking every 5 mins to ensure its not sticking. At this time you can also place it on a double oven or an oven preheated to 350F preheated. About 15 mins.
5. During the last 15 minutes, in a small pot, on medium heat, warm up the ghee. Once nice and warm add the cumin seeds, they will gently sizzle. Let them toast about 15 seconds or so, turn off the heat and set aside.
6. Check the khichadi, give it a few stirs, at this point it should be creamy porridge, you might have a slight, layer of gelatinous water on top, that is okay. Stir and with a wooden spoon check the consistency—see the video? If it’s too running, continue to cook for a few more minutes with the lid removed and if it’s too stiff, add a bit of warm water. If its good to go, turn off the stove or remove it from the oven.
7. Pour in the ghee and toasted cumin seeds and now with a wooden spoon, whip it good! Stir clockwise for a while then stir counter-clockwise and repeat and repeat. The color will slightly change as will the consistency. Stir it in really well for about 2 minutes. Then serve. You can also keep it in a warming oven at this point for about an hour.
Tips: Naram Khichadi can be made about an hour or so prior to serving. If making ahead of time, keep it a little liquidy and in an oven to stay warm. It can be whipped at the time of serving or while it’s in the oven staying warm. If it stiffens up prior to serving, add a little warm water and give it a good stir.
Ghee infusion: additional spices like ginger, garlic or turmeric can be added as well, it’s a nice way to spice it up! Especially if you are not adding any toppings.
*quinoa—I used tri-color quinoa, but any quinoa colored can be used. Quinoa can also be replaced with red or white rice (pitta/vata dosha) or millet (kapha dosha). For vata imbalances, use rice.
Shishito Peppers & Julienned Carrots
In an iron skillet add your favorite oil, toss in the rinsed peppers and cook on medium-high heat. When the pepper is nice and caramelized, lower the heat and add 1 tsp coriander powder. Stir to coat the peppers and let the coriander toast up, careful not to burn the coriander. Add the carrots, stir and turn off the stove.