Desi comfort

Updated: Apr 01, 2020, 09:49 IST | Nasrin Modak Siddiqi | Mumbai

A nostalgia induced khichdi treat is just what the doctor ordered for the lockdown period

Tandoori kathal
Tandoori kathal

Food: Authentic
Packaging: Good
Cost: Reasonable
Verdict: 1.5/4

Late on Sunday night, a friend from Delhi asked for the recipe of my dhaba style khichdi. Monday morning, the craving set in — except that I was in no mood to cook (haven't we all been doing just that for what seems like an eternity now?) So, we decided to order in a comforting treat. We have been reading a lot on no-contact delivery restaurants in general and the menu of Khichdi Experiment seemed interesting. They had a host of regional and non-veg options too. The food was delivered in under 40 minutes and the packaging — though not all eco-friendly — was well done with handwritten descriptions. The food was dropped off on a sanitised table in our building lobby and thereafter picked up by us.

Bengali panch phoron
Bengali panch phoron

Our first choice — the Murg dalcha khichdi (R230) — seemed like an interesting spin on home-cooked dalcha and rice. Thankfully, the flavours were mild and not overpowered with garam masala. Having said that, we have also tasted better dalcha in the past. The dish comes with papad, achar and a tamarind goli that we took a liking to.

If you can't decide which khichdis to try, the experiment box (R190) lets you select three vegetarian khichdis along with papad and achar. The portions are decent. We tried the palak paneer, tadkewali dal and the veg masala khichdi — all of which were light, wholesome and nourishing. Who would have imagined khichdis can be so diverse and delicious thanks to a simple addition of flavours, ingredients and aromas. The tadkewali one was similar to our home-style version, so there was a sense of familiarity as we tucked in.

Gur delight
Gur delight

We wanted to try a regional one, and so ordered the Bengali panch phoron (R160) as well. It's a simple khichdi with subtle hints of the famed Bengali five-spice mix. The texture and consistency were smooth and not overcooked or mushy, which can be the deal-breaker. As an accompaniment, we called for the tandoori kathal (R140). While it had the tandoori masala and was succulent, it lacked the smokiness of a tandoori dish.

The star of the meal was the gur delight (R60). This melt-in-the-mouth jaggery baked yoghurt was the perfect way to end a comforting meal.

Murg dalcha khichdi
Murg dalcha khichdi

Log on to Khichdi Experiment on Zomato or Swiggy

Moong dal khichdi with veggies

Moong dal khichdi with  veggies

. 1/2 cup short grained rice £1/2 cup moong dal or split green gram
. Mixed veggies (carrots, fresh peas, potatoes) chopped into ¼ inch pieces £1 cup red onion sliced thin £6 cloves garlic £1/2 inch ginger £2 dried red chillies
. 1 fresh green chilli £1 tsp mustard seeds £1 tsp cumin seeds £1/2 tsp fennel seeds £2 bay leaves £1 tsp turmeric powder £Salt to taste £1 tsp ghee/clarified butter . 1 tbsp vegetable oil £2 cups water £2 tbsp chopped cilantro for garnishing on top

Swayampurna Mishra

Start by dry roasting the moong dal or lentil in a pan on low heat for three to four minutes till it's lightly browned and smells nutty. Remove and set aside. Wash and keep the rice ready. Pound the ginger, garlic and green chilli together. Next, heat the oil in a deep pot; add the bay leaves and ginger-garlic-chilli paste, and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the onion and sauté till translucent. Next, add the vegetables, turmeric powder and salt and let the veggies cook for four minutes on a low flame. Add the roasted lentil or dal and give it a good stir. Add the rice. Pour almost double the amount of water. Add salt accordingly. Cover with a lid and cook it on medium high for almost 25 minutes till the rice and lentils are cooked and slightly mushy. Remove from the flame. For the final touch, in a small wok or tadka pan, add ghee. Once hot, add dried red chilli, mustard, cumin and fennel seeds and let them pop. Pour over the khichdi and cover to trap the aroma in it. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Rest for five minutes, stir well and serve.

By chef Swayampurna Mishra

4/4 Exceptional, 3/4 Excellent, 2/4 very Good, 1/4 Good, 0.5/4 Average. Khichdi Experiment didn't know it was us. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals

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