Khichiri is the Indian version of rice and beans. For me it is the perfect comfort food. It is also supposedly very easy to make, but for the longest time I was terrified to make it. All because once when I was younger my Mom asked me to make dinner since her and my Dad were going out for the day. Then she said the fateful words: “Just make khichiri–you can’t mess that up, it is the easiest thing to make.” Well, it turned out that I left out the salt and the turmeric, which gives the khichiri its lovely yellow color, and we ended up eating a tasteless, colorless mess of beans and rice. Turns out you can mess it up.
A few months ago, I finally screwed up the courage and asked my Mom for the recipe. She was right; it is easy to make. Since then, khichiri has become a weekly meal in our house. We usually have it on Sunday evenings and I eat the leftovers throughout the week. We often have it when we return home from a trip and there is nothing in the house except rice and beans.
Growing up my Mom would add potatoes to the khichiri while it was cooking, but nowadays I throw in whatever vegetable we have in the house (spinach, cabbage, potatoes, zucchini, carrots, chard…apart from butternut or gem squash I throw almost anything in).
But what elevates khichiri from a boring dish to a delicious out-of-this-world meal is chaas–a lassi-like yogurt sauce. If you haven’t had chaas you do not know what you are missing. It is so delicious that my Dad drinks the leftover chaas on its own.
1 c yellow moong dal (You can find in Indian stores, but if you don’t have you can also use yellow split peas).
1/2 c rice (if you prefer a more rice-y dish you can make it with 1 c rice, but the greater bean ratio ensures that the khichiri is risotto-like in consistency which I prefer)
3 1/2 -4 cups water (possibly more if you are using yellow split peas)
1/2 t turmeric powder
1/4 t red chili powder
1/2 t salt
Mix moong dal and rice together and wash. Add water and put over high heat. Once water is boiling add turmeric powder, chili powder and salt. Turn heat to low once water is boiling. Cook until rice and beans are fully cooked and have become risotto-like in consistency. If the beans are not fully cooked add more water.
2 c low-fat yogurt
1/2 c water
1/2 T ghee (clarified butter) or butter
1/4 t salt
1/2 t ground or whole cumin
1/4 t crushed red chili powder
Mix yogurt, water and salt together until completely blended. Consistency should be like a thick milkshake. In a small pan, melt the ghee. Once melted, add in the ground or whole cumin. Add red chili powder once the cumin has started to brown. Stir for 10 seconds and then pour into yogurt mixture. Stir.