Khichdi, khichri, khichdee, khichadi, khichuri, khichari, khicri, khecheri and many similar names (that don’t sit well with a Western tongue) refer to a nutritionally balanced stew of rice and pulses, depending on the region it is prepared in. Despite of the linguistic acrobatics, the genius of Indian cuisine lies in the simple recipes. This poor man’s feast is combined with high quality grains, easily digestible lentils, fresh vegetables, exquisite spicing and homemade ghee. It is adequate, luscious and comforting.
As many as there are names, there are ways to cook “kitcheree”. The pulses, spices and vegetables may differ. Nuts and even raisins may be added. In Orissa, in the ancient temple of Sri Jagannath, it is daily served as rich as it gets with almonds, coconut, currants and sweet spices like cinnamon and cloves.
My basic recipe stems from our acarya, Srila Prabhupada, who introduced it to his disciples as a staple pillar of vegetarian diet. In various forms I’ve cooked or eaten it every day, either for breakfast or lunch, for over 20 years and never gotten bored. Ayurveda, the Indian wisdom of medicine, recommends it for all body types as a cleansing regimen. It is perfect yoga food in sattva-guna, the mode of goodness.
To compliment “kitcheree” you may serve some roti (unleavened bread), plain yogurt, raita or chutni. I like to contrast it with roasted or (on finer occasions) fried vegetables. This time I served it with wholegrain chapati, roasted Brussels sprouts and coconut & mint chutni. Delicious!