Khichadi is probably the most basic comfort food for a Pakistani. Anytime we were sick, mom would make a big batch of khichadi for us. It is the Pakistani equivalent of chicken noodle soup. Now when I eat a bowl of khichadi I am immediately transported to my childhood.
What is Khichadi?
Khichadi is essentially basmati rice cooked with lentils. Any lentils will work. And it can be either soupy or more rice like, depending on what you prefer. When we had sore throats the soupy version was a lot easier to eat. But now I much prefer the standard rice-y version.
What Lentils to Use in a Khichadi?
Really any lentil will work. I am a fan of moong daal in my khichadi. And with moong daal you can use two versions: the whole moong or the split moong. The key is to make sure to soak the lentils well before cooking. Especially if you are using the whole lentil. It is best to soak overnight, but I have gotten away with a soak in the morning for a few hours before cooking in the late afternoon/evening. It just increases the total cooking time for the lentils before you add the rice.
The lentils will cook first as they take the longest to cook. When they reach your desired softness, rice gets added in with as much water as is needed (I’ll explain what that means in a sec). Add salt and a few spices and cook till done! That is it!
The amount of water used to cook khichadi will depend on the consistency you want for the end result. If you want more of a soupy consistency – almost like a rice and lentil stew, add plenty of water and keep adding water till you get to your final consistency of choice. If you want to keep the rice and lentils whole, add just enough water to touch the surface of the rice. Cooking time will similarly vary depending on the consistency you are going for. The good news is that it is really hard to mess this one up because if you add too much water, just keep going and turn it into stew. If you add too little water, just add a splash more and keep cooking!
The final flavour boost comes from a fresh garlic cumin tardka right before serving. This is my moms trick to giving any dish a final kick of flavour.
I love khichadi served with a big dollop of chilled plain yogurt and some sindhi potatoes or zeera aloo on the side. Traditionally it is served with some sort of spinach or veg curry like this palak paneer.
What to do with leftover Khichadi?
And if there are leftovers, the next day I will turn it into a crispy rice thing. Kind of like tahdig – Heat up a frying pan with a splash of oil, 1 tsp cumin seeds and 1 tsp minced garlic. Add the rice in an even layer and cover. Cook on low for about 15 minutes till the edges start to turn golden and the rice is heated through. Flip and serve! It is almost better than day one khichadi!
For the Khichadi
- 1/2 cup whole moong (or any lentil of choice)
- 2 cups basmati rice
- salt, to taste
- 2-3 whole black peppercorn
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- 2 tbsp cooking oil (I use avocado or canola oil)
For the Tarka
- 1/4 cup cooking oil (I use avocado or canola oil)
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1-2 whole dried red chilli (optional)
- Wash and rinse the lentils and soak for 6-8 hours at room temperature. (If not using a whole lentil you can get away with a shorter soak time).
- Toss the water from the soaking lentils. Fill a large pot with fresh water and add the lentils making sure there is enough water to cover the lentils with about half an inch of water. Bring to a boil and simmer till the lentils are softened. About 25 minutes.
- While the lentils cook, wash and rinse the basmati rice. Allow the rice to soak in water while the lentils finish cooking.
- When the lentils are at your desired softness. Add the rice and enough water to reach the top of the rice (about 2-3 cups). Add salt to taste, a splash of oil, 2-3 black peppercorns and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil on medium-high. For more of a khichadi soup consistency, see recipe notes below.
- Allow the rice to absorb all the water. When the water is no longer visible, cover and turn the heat down to low and allow the khichadi to steam for at least 15 minutes.
- When the khicadhi is almost done steaming, in a separate small frying pan heat 1/4 cup oil with 1 tbsp minced garlic and 1 tsp cumin seeds. When the garlic starts to get fragrant add the dried red chilli.
- Immediately remove the lid from the khichadi and pour the tardka onto the khichadi. Fluff gently with a fork and serve immediately.