October 05, 2022
Vegetables are much easier to enjoy when they come wrapped in delicious vehicles, which is why finding ways to sneak them into flatbreads, stews, curries and soups is the way to go. A mound of grassy greens can be submerged in a pool of delicious dal; grated carrot or parsnip can disappear into roti doughs; finely chopped spinach, chard or kale with a combination of aromatic herbs wilted into rice can brighten up flavors.
The first whiff of cool weather carries with it a craving for khichri, the peasant rice and bean stew from India, another vehicle for all kinds of vegetables. There is no wrong way to make khichri — varieties of rice and beans and proportions can vary. The key is to cook the khichri long and slow to a soft creamy stew and then add vegetables of your choice. Toppings wise, anything goes — but given that pomegranates appear in the autumn, they make a delicious tart garnish. Fried eggs, minced vegetables, herbs, cheese, olive oil or butter are just a few other suggestions.
½ cup channa dal
1 cup brown basmati rice
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon green cardamom pods, crushed
½ teaspoon cloves, crushed
1½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons grated unpeeled ginger
Ghee or olive oil
Currants or raisins
Nuts (such as sliced almonds, pumpkin or sesame seeds)
Grated carrots Plain yogurt
Fresh herbs, such as cilantro or mint
Lime or lemon juice
Makes 4 servings
Rinse the rice and lentil mix in water twice. Soak for 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Drain by pouring most of the water out.
To crush cardamom and cloves, use a rolling pin or mortar and pestle.
Combine the rice mixture with the turmeric, black pepper, cardamom, cloves and salt. Add 5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the stockpot and simmer for 1½ to 2 hours on low heat, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom. Add more water if needed. This may take less or more time, depending on the thickness and shape of the pot and the heat setting. Add the grated ginger toward to end of cooking.
In the end, the rice and channa dal should have dissolved into each other and the mixture should be thick and creamy. The spices should also have softened completely. Serve with a choice of toppings.
Any kind of brown rice will work; if using white rice, reduce the cooking time a little. Channa dal is a large yellow split lentil, but smaller lentils, such as moong or masoor, will also work.
Khichri can be made ahead of time and frozen in batches for up to 3 months. Reheat it with a little bit of water and add toppings as desired.
For a spicier finish, mince 1 to 2 serrano peppers and add to the khichri at the beginning of cooking.
December 02, 2022