Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Less is more, but it takes all sorts...

It’s a khichadi of all sorts!

(Photos by Apurva Nargundkar)

·         A rice dish with only five ingredients apart from salt, water and rice

·         Tasty enough to risk your reputation as a cook by posting

·         Innovatively presented

·         Photographed

·         Recipe written up

·         All done and dusted by the 25th of July

Now that is a tall order for a dish in the Rice Bowl  Cookoff on my home food group!

It’s like participating in those team building games for survival where you are asked to pick up only 5 things in the event of an emergency and make a dash for your life. What should you take and what can you miss?

Or like the riddle of how a boatman who has to take a tiger, a goat and a bundle of hay across the river and can ferry only one of these along with himself.  How will he do this? If he takes the bundle of hay, the tiger will eat the goat, if he takes the tiger with him ....  okay, folks I think you get the drift!

From tiger to Tolstoy, what a ‘hotch potch’ or ‘khichadi’ of ideas and thoughts! How much land does a person need?  More is less or less is more? How much spice do we really need in life, er..., I mean in a dish? Do we have to smother dishes in spices and condiments and that anathema of mine- heat? Does food have to swim in artery-clogging oil, butter and ghee?

It was a very therapeutic exercise to be so disciplined. It was very excruciating to decide if the hing got the ditch, the bay leaf  was to be ignored (the chillies can sulk- I don’t care much about them anyway) but surely the pepper was disappointed at being cold shouldered like this!

A lesson in austerity and economy of ingredients surely brings out the real cook in all of us. Our habitual (or obsessive?) cluttering of the dish, the palate, the table, the party- gets a welcome break.

 From this churning or ‘Halaahal’ emerges a dish.  

Call it a khichadi (remember hotch potch?) or a pulao, this dish will stay true to its five ingredients.

And please welcome Sichuan pepper as my latest fad or fling!  

Sabut Moong Dal Khichadi


1 tbsp ghee

2-3 cloves

½ tsp Sichuan pepper

1 inch piece of stone flower

½ tsp of cumin seeds

2 cups basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes

¾ cup unskinned green gram (sabut moong dal), soaked along with the rice

Salt to taste


Heat ghee in a pot and add the masalas. Once they start spluttering, drained rice and sabut moong dal and toast for a bit. Add 4 ½ cups of boiling water. Add the salt. When the water reduces and the surface of the rice appears to have holes, cover the rice and reduce the heat. Check for all tastes and switch off the gas when the rice is done.

Serve with Tomato Saar or Kadhi and appalam or poppadoms the (poppadoms featured in the photo have been microwaved for 30 secs each)

This very healthy rice dish is doing the rounds of events-! It is my entry to Sangeeta and Vardhini's Show me your HITS event!

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