Village-Style Gujarati Khichdi (Buttery Rice & Lentils)
The clattering of pots, pans and spoons in my kitchen is a sound that fills me with comfort and joy. It’s the first dish I crave after a long trip away and the hug in a bowl I need when autumn sets in. At the first whiff of mellow rice and lentils emanating from my cooker, there’s only one thing that matters; I’m home.
I’m making Khichdi, Gujarati style, like how they eat it on the farm in my ancestral home of Porbandar. It’s served with Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney, a blow-your-socks-off garlic and chilli preserve, and a cold glass of Chaas (salted buttermilk with roasted cumin). This is the comfort food every Gujarati has precious memories of growing up. The porridge-like consistency of a ghee-beaten rice and lentil mishmash was usually the first solid food we ever ate as toothless babies and our fondness for it stayed with us right through to adulthood. It became a familiar and nostalgic comfort blanket for the belly.
Loaded with hearty goodness and family tradition, Khichdi was and (still is) regarded as being every doting Gujarati mother’s nourishment of choice for her child.
My recipe uses salt but feel free to omit it or reduce the amount for weaning. Just a few weeks ago, I prepared a salt-free version for my 6-month old and he gobbled it up with gusto. It was his first real taste of food, as it was mine 29 years ago.
Unlike other regional variations of the dish, Gujarati Khichdi is subtle and gently spiced but still creamy with ghee or butter. It’s not pilau or biryani and traditionally, Khichdi is not loved for its long, separate grains you strive to achieve with other rice dishes. Think risotto. It’s a stodgy, filling rice and lentil porridge with or without a blend of spices depending on the regional style and interpretation you choose.
I like to use dried, split mung beans with the husks on (mung daal chilla) but you can also use the skinned yellow variety of mung daal if you prefer. As far as spices go, turmeric, asafoetida and black pepper are all that’s needed.
Village-Style Gujarati Khichdi
Buttery rice and lentils simmered with turmeric and black pepper. The ultimate hug-in-a-bowl dish for cold nights.
- 125 g basmati rice
- 125 g dried, split mung beans ((the kind with the husks left on, also known as mung daal chilla))
- 600 ml hot water
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/8 tsp asafoetida
- 1 tsp salt
- 100 g butter or ghee (plus more for serving)
- 1 tsp freshly-ground black peppercorns
Combine the rice and dried split mung beans. Wash them in cold water several times and then place them in a pan that has a tight-fitting lid.
Add the water, turmeric, asafoetida and salt. Stir and bring to the boil. Place the lid on the pan and reduce the burner to low. Cook for 25 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and the khichdi is tender.
Next, add in the butter and black pepper and beat the khichdi with a wooden spoon for a minute until creamy and porridge-like in consistency.
Serve with more butter or ghee and Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney (optional but delicious).
- You can also cook the khichdi in a pressure cooker. Follow the same method and cook for 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before opening the cooker and beating in the butter and black pepper.
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