The humble Khichdi, that is easy to make, disgust and popular in its various form throughout the country.
Rice, lentil, and ghee is ideal for hot summer days.
The word Khichdi actually means a mix
It enters the Indian child’s life as the first solid diet and stays. It is the diet of choice to recover through illness; it is also a comfort food for many.
The origin of the word is from the Sanskrit krsara, which actually means rice seasoned from sesame, probably the earliest known form Khichdi where roasted and dehusked sesame was mixed with butter and salt and boiled with rice.
In the south we have pongal that is made of moong and rice, the word pongal heralds auspicious, and boiling over of rice. This is cooked especially when the sun passes through the Capricorn.
Khichdi cooked in the dhanurmasa, that is when the sun passes through the Sagittarius, is in honour of the war of Kurukshetra where this was believed to be the staple food. The Madhwa community calls it Huggi, and the ginger, curry leaves and cumin is substituted with jaggery fresh coconut, a clove and cashew.
Nutritionally this is a complete wholesome meal. Most families have their own form of Khichdi.
Rajasthani Khichdi is taari make with basmati rice and chana daal, seasoned with friend onions and whole garam masala garlic ginger powder, garam masala, cumin and coriander, Kashmir chillies sliced tomatoes’. This is then served with curd and fresh green chutney.
The upma of the south is believed to have been inspired by this.
Of course the biryanis and pulaos’s are believed to be the royal kitchen recipe of the Moguls.
Aurangzeb had his version called the alamgir, where friend onions, chopped ginger cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom and turmeric and chilli power were cooked. The dish was garnished with almonds and resins.
The cooks of Avadh and Hyderabad list many varies of Khichdi like the shola made of meat, shoortawa a thin Khichdi without meat, kush a boiled version with meat and bhoonee and bugharee . The cooks of avadh cooked a Khichdi where pistachio nuts and almonds were substituted for rice and lentils.
The British who were not impressed by the humble Khichdi created their own version renaming it kedgeree, which became a popular breakfast at the Anglo-Indian table. The recipe reads:
Melt an ounce of butter and add 2 tsps of mild and cayenne and salt to taste. Mix in 2 cups of boiled fish, preferably haddock, 1 cup of boiled rice and 2 chopped hardboiled eggs. The chronicler suggests a table spoonful of sweet chutney to give added flavour.