Ask any Indian cook the simplest dish to churn out when running against time; or any one who is tired after a long day and waiting to crash in bed or even a novice who has been asked to cook rice. All will have one reply”khichadi”. For me khichadi or khichudi as any Bengali would refer, is the most savioured dish when the kitchen pantry is yelling out for a refill and the bear lentils and rice is what I can catch hold of in the kitchen. Even in my English kitchen! Britain is blessed with loads of rainfall throughout the year. I have paired my khichadi with papadums(papads), soup(saar) or even simple dry chutney. Once I came across a colleague mentioning about kedgeree to another convalescing. She further added it’s very light and nutritious. Initially, I thought it was another English dish which I probably need try sometime. The interesting part was when I asked my colleague about the kedgeree recipe. To this, she first stared at me and then she started jotting down the ingredients on a scrap paper. When I checked the sheet, I knew the reason for her staring at me and was absolutely bemused at what I had experienced about a simple khichadi cooked in Indian kitchens donned an English attire to be called kedgeree. All the curry houses have this unique dish mentioned and served in their menu.
I even researched about this unique combination of lentils, rice and spices on the internet. To my greatest amazement, I chanced upon numerous kedgeree recipes. It was our simple khichadi which was tweaked with haddock or salmon and hard boiled eggs. To my surprise, I came to know that it is one of the favourite breakfast dish in Britain. The dictionary explains Kedgeree under the
category as East Indian Cookery. a cooked dish consisting of rice, lentils, and spices.
After further research I came to know that it was only in the 18th century that smoked fish and hard-boiled eggs were added in order to Anglicise it. Some vegetarian version also included vegetables and nuts to produce a contrast of tastes and textures. It is equally relished b British as is by us all Indians. They enjoy as a perfect winter supper as well. Few chefs suggested serving them with yogurt other suggested with accompanying naan bread or even pappadums for a satisfying meal any time.
I have tweaked this kedgeree to my family’s convenience however have managed to keep all the changes khichadi has gone through in it’s travel from East.
Here is how it got done with the following ingredients:
100g mung lentils
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric
Handful of cashew nuts and raisins
1 tbsp garam masala
Salt to taste
mint chopped for garnishing
2 medium eggs hard boiled
Smoked Salmon to serve with.
Ideally I pressure cook my khichadi. However, I wanted to make it the way I came across in British Chef recipes. Wash rice and set aside. Wash the lentils as well and soak for an hour. Boil the rice till done. When done, drain and set aside.
Boil eggs and de-shell and set aside.
In a pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds to splutter. To this add in the chopped onions, ginger garlic paste, tomato puree and turmeric one after the other. Each ingredient needs some stirring before the other is added on. This needs stirring until the colour changes .Add in the washed and lentils. Add enough water to cook the lentils to soft. When cooked, add in the garam masala and salt. Add in the nuts and raisins. This is the sauce to bring together the cooked rice.
Add the cooked rice to the sauce. Fold in gently and garnish with chopped mint(even coriander is a good option), sliced of smoked salmon and hard boiled eggs. This khichadi reminded me of bhoger khichudi I always had as a child but for the fact that it is not niramish.
I would like to send this recipe to Kolkata Food bloggers Online Gourmet recipe contest for the curry’s section. Just to focus on the influence of Bengali khichudi on the British pallet as have the English influenced the Bengali cooking in Shonar Bangla.