Methi Moong Dal Khichdi

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When we think of comfort food, each one of us may have our favorites but the most popular according to me would be khichdi. To be precise, Moong Dal Khichdi! There are so many types of khichdi with various combinations of rice & lentils. Not to forget several additions of vegetables too.

A medley of rice and lentils… a one pot meal or a nutritious meal in a bowl is what khichdi is all about. In winter, it is a bowl of khichdi which gives you the much needed warmth. During the monsoons, it is this comfort food that makes you feel cozy. In summer when your appetite is at its lowest, this one pot meal is a delight, mingled with curds. When you are down with fever, or have a stomach ache or just feel under the weather, it is this magic food which soothes you.

The khichdi prepared in rural households & the villages of India is the most soul satisfying. The people are so pure in heart, ignorant, unaware & untouched by modern urban living. The village folk use fresh produce from their fields, homemade dairy products, cook over wooden fire or tandoors and above all have rustic methods of cooking passed down over the years by their ancestors which truly makes it extremely wholesome and nutritious. 

The quality of water used to prepare a khichdi does determine the taste of the finished product. Moong Dal is mainly used in preparing khichdi as it is a light dal/lentil and aids easy digestion. Plain moong dal khichdi  is usually fed as the first solid food to toddlers and also to wean them from their only milk diet.

Today’s recipe is Methi Moong Dal Khichdi. Methi/Fenugreek has medicinal and nutritive value especially in Ayurveda. It is important to eat piping hot khichdi to enjoy and relish its goodness. On cooling the khichdi cakes up so always prepare just enough so that there are no left overs. According to Ayurveda, the topping of home made/desi ghee/clarified butter helps digestion but one can skip it if you so prefer.

My children are not very fond of it but my hubby and I love this simple and nutritious food. For us, khichdi means soft and mushy. Each time I cook it differently but try to always retain the consistency and texture.  On days the consistency & texture of the khichdi does not turn out  the way we like it, then unfortunately there are left overs which I am not very happy about!

Even though a khichdi is very simple, easy & quick to prepare; the taste differs in every home! The quantity & quality of the ingredients used to prepare it does matter. The end product depends totally on the combination of rice, lentils and the vegetables used. The taste also depends much on the combination of spices and the method of preparation.

We have tasted quite a few khichdis… in homes… in restaurants… but the one which I feel is unique, delicious & soul satisfying is the one which I relished quite a few times many years ago in the warm & comfortable home of Mr. Prem Malhotra. He does not have children of his own but considers us his own. He has so much love to give and share. He really lives up to his name!

Even though he had his own struggle in life, he is an achiever who is so humble and has a zest for life. He is a man with strong convictions & a heart of gold. A simple, generous soul and always welcoming his guests with a smiling face. He never allows anyone who visits him to go without a meal. His khichdi is to die for! For him, preparing khichdi is an art. His pre-preparation is systematic and meticulous. He prefers using whole grain moong dal and a particular brand of unpolished rice which unfortunately I just cannot remember. Within minutes his most delicious and aromatic khichdi is done. Well, it smells so divine and you just cannot wait any longer to dig into this mouth watering khichdi. It is here that I really started appreciating this wonderful one pot meal!

I do not think I can prepare khichdi the way Mr. Malhotra does and I feel it is special & has his very special touch. Did I tell you that he prays over every ingredient when he cooks?  When I asked him the secret to his fantabulous khichdi… he simply said it is the “magic touch.”

Be cool, feel light this summer & just savor this lovely khichdi … J
Ingredients :

1 ½ cups Basmati Rice (picked)
½ cup Split Moong Dal (picked)
¼ cup fresh Methi Leaves (picked, washed & chopped)
1 med. Onion (peeled & chopped)
2 fresh Green Chillies (split)
1 inch fresh Ginger (peeled & grated/paste)
3 cloves fresh Garlic (minced) (optional)
¼ tsp. Turmeric pwd.
1 tsp. Cumin Seeds
1 Cardamom (lightly crushed)
2 Cloves
4 Black Peppercorns (optional)
1 small Cinnamon Stick
2 tbsps. Vegetable Oil /Desi Ghee (Clarified Butter)
Salt to taste
Water as required
Pre-preparation :

First, mix the washed & chopped methi leaves with a pinch of sugar, a little salt and let it soak for about 15 mins. Drain out the water by squeezing the methi leaves. Set aside.
Combine the rice & moong dal; wash & soak them for about 15-20 mins. Drain and set aside.
Procedure :

Heat the pressure cooker body with oil or ghee till hot. Reduce heat to med. flame.

Add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon & peppercorns. Let them splutter.

Drain with a slotted spoon & set aside to cool down.

Bundle the cooled spices in a piece of muslin cloth (potli).

In the same oil, add in cumin seeds and allow it to splutter; sauté on low heat for a few seconds.

Slide in the slit green chillies, onions and sauté till the onions are translucent.

Sauté  the ginger, garlic and turmeric till rawness disappears.

Add the reserved squeezed methi leaves & sauté for about 2-3 mins.

Next, add in the reserved drained rice and dal. Sauté for about 5-7 mins.

Pour in 6 cups water and mix well. Add more water if you like your khichdi soft and mushy.

Add salt to taste and the reserved spice bundle (potli). Give it a good stir.

Pressure cook for about 3-4 whistles if you like it really soft and 2 whistles if you prefer it slightly firm. To retain firmness, release steam immediately after you switch off the flame.

If you like it soft and mushy like the way we do then open the lid of the cooker only when you are ready to eat/serve.

Discard the whole spice potli/bundle.

Serve the hot kichdi topped with a spoonful of liquid desi ghee/clarified butter, curds, pickles, raita, papad and/or with your favorite side dish.

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