Having recovered from a bout of food poisoning, all I could wish for myself was a piping hot bowl of my favorite comfort food – the khichdi. And as I sat down to tuck into its comforts, I reminisced the many times it brought the whole family together and created enduring bonds.
Each year, when dad was posted to Phek in Nagaland, we had to crawl our way up from Dimapur to Phek, in a battered three-tonne for nearly eight hours.
The light at the end of the tunnel for us was the hot khichdi waiting at home. Khichdi had the power to comfort our battered souls and provide nourishment as much as it did to the body.
Even today, each bite of khichdi takes me back to those chilly winter days in Nagaland. Perhaps that’s why, for me, khichdi is the popular flavour of childhood, of togetherness and of healing.
There are many variations of the khichdi in India and though it is referred to by different names, the basic ingredients – rice and lentil – remains the same. With khichdi being healthy, economical and easy to cook, it only makes sense that it was crowned as the “queen of all foods” at the World Food India 2017.
Khichdi is best paired with papads, pickle and curd.
The most popular style of khichdi is made with rice and an assortment of dals, sautéed in ghee with the tempering of spices like cumin seeds, mustard, bay leaf, onions, black peppercorn etc.
Khichdi is paired with papads, pickle and curd. And at times with piping hot kadhi. This fragrant, light and delicious dish is the perfect cure for the cold wintry nights in North.
The Khichdi of the South
The Kara Pongal or Ven Pongal is the popular khichdi of Tamil Nadu.
The Kara Pongal or Ven Pongal is the popular khichdi of Tamil Nadu. It’s light on the stomach and tops the breakfast menu of the state. Like all khichdi, this too is prepared with rice and dal, tempering of asafoetida, curry leaves, mustard seeds and ginger. This is then garnished with cashews. This dish is offered to the gods as prasad.
Huggi is best accompanied with the hot and savoury tamarind gojju.
Similar to Kara Pongal, Huggi is the traditional khichdi that is eaten in Karnataka. The huggi resembles a savoury porridge made of rice and moong dal, to which coconut, green chillies and other Indian spices sautéed in ghee is added. It is prepared during the Sri Krishna Mutt Festival that is celebrated in parts of Udupi. Huggi is best accompanied with the hot and savoury tamarind gojju.
The pulagam is offered as prasad to the deity during festivals like Sankranti when freshly harvested rice is used to prepare it.
The Pulagam is a type of khichdi eaten in Andhra Pradesh. It’s prepared using rice and split moong dal. To make it more appealing, you need to add curry leaves, cumin seeds, black pepper and cashew nuts. The preparation is simple and the dish is nutritious. The pulagam is offered as prasad to the deity during festivals like Sankranti when freshly harvested rice is used to prepare it.
The Khichdi of The West
The khichdi is cooked in Rajasthan by the farming community mostly in the nights.
The khichdi is cooked in Rajasthan by the farming community mostly in the nights. This is prepared using millet grains and moth lentils which is tempered with spices. The khichdi is enjoyed with a generous helping of ghee and kadhi.
The Meaty Khichra
Khichra is the meaty cousin of khichdi.
Khichra is the meaty cousin of khichdi. It is a mixture of cooked dals, mutton, rice and vegetables – all stirred together to yield a potpourri of flavours. Khichra is actually a variation of Haleem, and is popularly eaten during Ramadan and Moharram nights, to create a hearty and a fulfilling meal.
The Khichuri of The East
Bhaja Muger Dal Khichuri
The khichuri is the mainstay of Durga Puja and is offered as bhog.
As the name suggests the dish is a miscellany of bhaja (vegetables) and muger (moong dal). What sets it apart from the other khichdis is the use of vegetables – cauliflower, peas, potatoes – that is added to the mixture of rice and lentils. The khichuri is the mainstay of Durga Puja and is offered as bhog.
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