An Ayurvedic perspective
According to Ayurveda, Aahar or food is one of the three pillars of life, which plays a major role in both prevention and cure. Aahar itself can act as the cause for disease and can also be used as medicine. In fact, it is always administered in accordance to the individual body type, which helps balance out the doshas or the bioenergies.
Any variations in the methods of preparation and the combination of ingredients can lead to health or ill-health. These preparations and the properties of different ingredients are explained under 'Kritannavarga', in the 27th chapter of Charaka Samhita, 46th chapter of the Susrutha Samhitha, 6th chapter of the Astanga Hridaya, Bhavaprakasha Nighantu Kritannavarga etc.
Khichdi is referred to Krushara in Ayurveda and spoken about under Kritannavarga . It is usually recommended as 'pathya' or the diet regime after one undergoes therapies or medication since it helps in digestion .The right combination of carbohydrates, protein and digestive fibres, it is considered to be a wholesome dish which balances the tridoshas and is hence suitable for everyone.
The myriad of flavours and preparation styles
I personally believe that Khichdi is a unifying symbol of Indian gastronomy. Nearly every region in the country has their own way of preparing this iconic dish - Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Kanji in Kerala, Bajra Khichda in Rajasthan, Khichdi with Kadhi in Gujrat, Sabudana Khichdi in Maharashtra, Bhaja Muger Dal Khichuri in West Bengal, Chicken Sochiar from the North East and so many more.
My personal favourite is the Bajra Khichda which is cooked in both Rajasthan and Haryana with locally grown millet. A simple dish, it is slow cooked for hours and served with a healthy portion of ghee and fresh mustard paste. However, remember that bajra produces a lot of heat in the body so it is best eaten during winters, ideally from Chaitra Navratri to Vasanta Navratri the following year.
Khichdi in healing
While there are these several renditions of preparation, at Naad we serve it is an equal portion of rice with green or yellow mung dal, with a tablespoon of cow's ghee, a little salt and turmeric.
Khichdi forms part of the diet of our guests who undergo Colon Hydrotherapy and Laghushankhprakshalana (yogic colon cleansing) because it is easy to digest and the ghee helps line the intestine, which is usually tender after these treatments. Additionally, we also offer it to guests who are booked on the Detox package since it is a soothing and well-balanced dish.
Here is a recipe that you can try at home:
- 1 cup white rice (sona masuri)
- 1/4 cup moong dal
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 teaspoon jeera
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon jeera
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium sliced onion,
- 2-3 slit green chilies
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 6 cups of water
- One tomato cut into cubes
- Salt to taste
- Chopped fresh coriander
- Wash and soak rice and dal separately for about 10 minutes.
- Heat ghee in a pressure cooker and add in bay leaves and cumin seeds. Let the seeds crackle for few seconds.
- Now add sliced onions and slit green chilies. On medium heat, fry till the raw smell goes away.
- Add the tomato cubes and fry for few seconds
- Add turmeric powder, soaked rice and dal. Mix well.
- Add water and salt. Pressure cook for about 5 whistles.
- Allow the pressure cooker to release the pressure completely. Then remove the khichdi
- Garnish with coriander and serve with fresh curd
Feel free to write to me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions on cuisine..
About the author: Chef Sahajan is a graduate of the Institute of Hotel Management, Bhubaneswar and brings with him over 16 years of culinary experience. He specialises in the 'tridosha' form of cooking, based on the principles of Ayurveda.
Chef firmly believes in cooking fresh, seasonal produce that are aligned with the cycles of nature. In fact, he nurtures his small kitchen garden on the Naad estate and often cooks with herbs and vegetables sourced from our own backyard.
A keen photography enthusiast, he is also a member of several industry associations including the Indian Federation of Culinary Association (IFCA), World Association of Chefs (WACs) and the Chef Guild of India.