In the comfort zone
We got chefs to give us the lowdown on their renditions of khichdi, so you can usher in the monsoons with a piping hot bowl of the ultimate comfort food
In 2017, a huge online debate ensued as netizens came together to petition for khichdi to be made the national dish of India. It created quite the confusion, making Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the Minister of Food Processing Industries since 2014, clarify on Twitter saying, "Enough khichdi cooked up on a fictitious 'national dish'. It has only been put for a record entry in #WorldFoodIndia." But if you think about it, there is no stronger candidate for such an honour. For, the humble khichdi not only transcends class and caste divides, featuring in different avatars across the length and breadth of India as the ultimate comfort food for all, but also epitomises our desi motto of sasta and tikau.
City chefs concur while speaking about their respective creations. "Khichdi is a dish that is typically eaten when someone is ill. However, mothers across the country cook up hot versions of the dish and feed it to their children even before they have teeth. Khichdi then is something everyone grows up eating. It is not just a dish, it is an emotional connect," says Aditya Wanwari, owner of the newly opened Shor.
Neel's chef Sanjay Sutare echoes this when he says, "Khichdi is akin to a savoury porridge. It is a versatile dish and can be customised to suit one's taste. Thus, most regions across India have their own take on it." Chef Himanshu Saini from Trèsind believes this the "ultimate comfort food" as it is easy on the palate.
Take your pick from these versions available at restaurants, and eateries to order in from.
Truffle oil and crispy okra khichadi
For a modern variant, try the truffle oil and crispy okra khichdi (Rs 389) at this eatery. The crispy okras add a crunch to the mushy preparation, while the truffle oil adds a pleasant earthiness to it. "I came across the recipe during my visit to London where I tried it at a fine-dining Indian restaurant. The addition of the truffle oil gives the dish a gourmet spin," says Wanwari.
At Shor, Sujata Rajpipla, Santacruz West.
Time 12 pm to 1.30 am
Mutton khichdi. Pics/Ashish Raje
With love, from Karnataka
The Karnataka mutton khichdi (Rs 495), served at this Powai restaurant, has unpolished brown rice and kid goat meat cooked in ghee with bay leaves, black cardamom and cloves. It’s an indulgent, spicy preparation, which is uncommon in the mildly spiced vegetarian version, chef Sutare says.
At Neel Indian Kitchen & Bar, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai.
TIME 12 pm to 12 am
Native to Gujarat, the Kathiawadi khichdi (Rs 150) embodies the culinary aesthete of the Kutchi community. Also known as the mixed vegetable khichdi, this version makes use of tur dal, onion, papdi dana, brinjal and potato, though one can experiment with other veggies, too. At this hole-in-the-wall joint, they serve an authentic version.
At Khichdi Samrat, VP Road, CP Tank, Girgaum.
Time 11 am to 3.30 pm; 7 pm to 11.30 pm
Panch dhan khichdi
A desi delicacy
The punch dhan khichdi (Rs 285 for small) made with five kinds of lentils (moong, masoor, matki, rajma and kabuli chana) is a preparation brimming with nutrients and fibre. Originally from Gujarat, it is said to be ideal for pregnant women.
At Khichdi, Station Road, Vile Parle West.
Time 12 pm to 11 pm
A coastal treat
"For the khichdi (Rs 600) that I prepare, I add vegetables to rice and lentils and cook it together with turmeric until it is mushy and all the ingredients have blended well together. Then, I add a generous tadka of ghee, cumin, green chillies and loads of toasted garlic and curry leaves, which lends a coastal flavour to the dish," chef Carmen Miranda Nayar.
At Enthu Cutlet, Andheri East.
Time 9 am to 9 pm
CALL 9920137636 (order four hours in advance)
Made in India
Prepared using ingredients from 20 different parts of India, the khichdi (Rs 595) at this modern Indian fine dine features interesting elements like butter from Punjab, ghee from Haryana, raw mango from Uttar Pradesh and beaten chickpeas from Bihar. "It is one of our signature dishes. We cook it like the basic khichdi that we make at home, however, adding these ingredients gives it a unique twist," explains chef Saini.
At Tresind, Inspire BKC, Bandra Kurla Complex.
Time 12 pm to 3.30 pm; 7 pm and 9.45 pm seating for dinners
On the side
Papad is the most common side to have with khichdi and is served along with the dish at most restaurants. It works because it adds a crunch to the dish. Opt for shakuli (a Himachali version made with refined flour), aloo or prawn papad for extra taste.
Pickle is ubiquitous in Indian homes and is the perfect ally of khichdi, especially when it’s of the bland variety as it lends a tangy edge to the dish. While mango and nimbu pickles are common accompaniments, you can also experiment with a dried fish pickle.
A favourite evening snack in West Bengal, beguni (in pic, above) is a salted and spiced and fried eggplant that comes in a besan coating. It is a must-have along with the Bengali version of khichdi or khichudi, but is sure to work with other variants, too.
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