Khichuri is a Bengali cuisine once considered comfort food for the poor, now is a delicacy served warm in Monsoon rain. Like similar Khichdi, core ingredients are rice and lentils, but different variations exist, some adding vegetables, poultry or meat and named accordingly (e. g. Sabji khichuri for vegetable). Here is the recipe for the popular Bhuna Khichuri.
- 1 cup white fragrant rice (e.g Bashmati rice or short grained Pilau rice)
- 1 cup green gram or red split lentils (rice : lentil should be 1:1)
- ½ cup split chickpeas (preferably dried Bengal variety) (optional)
- ½ cup garden peas (optional)
- 2 tablespoons butter preferably ghee
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (to give the dish a vibrant yellow colour)
- 2 whole green chilis slit in the middle, de-seeded if heat is not desired
- salt according to taste
- 4 cups of water for boiling
Spices for seasoning
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 green cardamom pods
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 sticks of cinnamon 1 inch long
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
- Rinse rice, lentils and chickpeas ( if using dried chickpeas) in cold water separately.
- Dry rice in a colander or on a flat surface.
- Leave lentils and chickpeas to soak in water for 30 minutes.
- Drain lentils and chickpeas; then roast them briefly until they emit an aroma, set aside to cool
- Heat water in a kettle to use later. Add it to the cooking before it boils thoroughly.
- Semi-crush cardamom, cinnamon and cloves
- Heat 2 tbsp butter in a heavy based pan in medium flame. Throw in bay leaf and semi-crushed spices in the hot melted butter, once they start to sputter (in less than a minute) add sliced ginger and cumin. Stir in 1-2 minutes until ginger yields a nutty flavour. Put green chili and garden pea and stir once or twice.
- Then add rice to the mixture and stir gently for 2-3 minutes making sure the oil coats it thoroughly. Add lentils, chickpeas and salt; stir again for 1-2 more minutes
- Add hot water to the pan. The level of water should be approx 1 inch above the mixture. Lower the heat slightly, cover and simmer until done. Check regularly to make sure rice does not burn at the bottom. Rice and lentils are done when there is no hard part in rice, it is medium firm, each one is easily separable, but not very soft or sticky. This should take around 10 minutes.
- When the rice is simmering take a separate frying pan and heat the remaining butter. Fry the onion on a medium heat until it starts to brown.
- When rice mixture is done put onion with accompanying oil on top. Garnish with coriander
- Turn down the heat to the lowest and cover until served which should not take long.
Bhuna khichuri is a romantic dish especially suited for a rainy day. Serve warm with Bengal fish curry and Chutney as a condiment.
Tips, Notes, and VariationsEdit
Weight watchers may replace butter with a low fat vegetable oil or it can be omitted altogether. For oil free alternative dry toast the spices. Pour hot water over rice and lentil mix, then add onion, ginger and spices.
Slicing onions may irritate eyes. This can be avoided by cutting under water, not very convenient though! Ethnic ingredient shops often sell fried onion pack.