We all have grown up with foods that are soothing, warming and commonly referred as soul food. Something that reminds us of our childhood. Something our mama gave us when we were sick. Something that warmed our bodies and soul when we got back from school on a rainy or cold fall day.
A chicken soup perhaps!
For me it was khichadi. Khichadi, pronounced as khee-cha-dee, which is a combination of rice, split lentils, vegetables and a few medicinal spices.
Growing up, as a child I suffered perpetually from ear infection and swollen tonsils. So my mom made this for me when I was sick,. The pain from the swollen glands was so intense that I refused to eat anything else, eventually they were removed. In the process I got so sick of eating khichadi everyday that and didn’t eat it for years till very recently. This simple khichadi is soupy and made with rice, split red or yellow lentils, turmeric, asafoetida, a little cumin.
The khichadi I love is the more gutsy one with robust spices, vegetables, hot chillies and is often made for festive occasions. It’s still very light in terms of Indian spiced curries but, I have focused on a couple of things: first, flavor of whole spices that get pulled out at the end. Second: I subbed it with millets. This khichadi is not as soupy but, has a texture of a risotto.
I make this on cold snowy days, its warming from the hot spices: cloves and pepper and the slightly over cooked lentil and millets offer a creamy texture.
Millet Khichadi with Vegetables
Few things to note:
1. I have used whole spices such as cloves, bay leaf and a small cinnamon stick. Pull them out before you serve or warn before eating.
2. Wash and soak the lentils and millets for about 30 minutes before adding, it cooks faster and has a nice creamy texture.
3. Serve it with something crunchy and cool, traditionally papadums are served. I made kale chips, oven roasted okra and a dollop of yogurt or butter.
Here is the recipe.
- 1 cup millets rinsed
- 1 cup about 4 oz, yellow or red split lentils
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 medium-sized carrots diced
- 1 cup chopped cauliflower
- 1 cup defrosted peas
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 4 whole cloves and green cardamom, 1 stick cinnamon, 1 bay leaf
- 2 inch piece minced ginger
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 4 cups of water
- Serve with yogurt and chopped cilantro
- In a saute pan warm the oil and add the whole spices: cloves, cardamom, cumin, bay and cinnamon. Stir and add onions.
- Saute till onions are translucent. Next add ginger and drop all the veggies. Stir and saute for 4-5 minutes.
- Add turmeric and cayenne. Stir
- Next add the soaked lentils and millets stir, they should be coated with the spices.
- Add the water: 4 cups, bring it to a boil and drop the heat to a simmer for 25-30 minutes.
- The millets and lentils should be cooked with a consistency of a risotto.
- Serve garnished with chopped cilantro and a dollop of yogurt.