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Today I’m continuing my series on lentil-based meals for kids. This recipe for a one-pot, rice and lentils dish (aka khichdi) is super easy, takes about 20 minutes from start to finish if you use the pressure cooker, and makes for a wholesome, balanced meal. Khichdi or khichri is a mixture of rice and lentils with a few spices, with or without vegetables thrown in. Here’s a wonderful little post on khichdi from One Hot Stove, one of my favorite food blogs.

Although khichdi is a ubiquitous dish found in almost every desi home, each family has their own way of making it. So the possibilities are endless. This particular recipe comes from my dear friend Ayesha’s mom, one of the original ‘super-cooks’ that continue to inspire me.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white rice (I use basmati, available in all grocery stores)
  • ½ cup moong dal (you can easily substitute with split moong dal or masoor dal)
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste (available in the Asian section of all major grocery stores) you can easily substitute with 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste (available in the Asian section of all major grocery stores) substitute with 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 green cardamom pod
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ tbsp oil or clarified butter (ghee) *

Method

  1. Mix the rice and moong dal in a bowl and rinse with water. Drain all the water and keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil or ghee in a thick bottomed pan or pressure cooker on medium high for about 2 minutes. Test the temperature of the oil by throwing in 1 or 2 cumin seeds. If they rise to the surface immediately with tiny bubbles forming around them, the oil is ready. If they just lie there, you need to wait a few seconds.
  3. When you’re sure the oil is hot enough, throw in the cumin seeds, the cloves, and the cardamom pod. Tiny bubbles should form around all the spices, and the cumin seeds and the cardamom pod will change color quickly, becoming a light golden brown. Be careful about popping spices at this point, especially the cloves.
  4. Now reduce the heat to medium (so that the spices don’t burn), and add the chopped onions. Fry the onions for a few minutes until they become translucent and then add the ginger and garlic paste. Fry for 2 more minutes, until the ginger and garlic turns a light golden brown.
  5. Add the rice and dal to the pan, and fry for a minute, mixing well with the spices.

If using pressure cooker,use following instructions:

  1. Add 2 cups of water, salt to taste, and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Then reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Make sure the cooker has cooled, and all the steam has been released before opening it. Your khichdi is ready to be eaten with ghee or yoghurt.

If using saucepan, use following instructions:

  1. Add 2 cups of water, salt to taste and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat, cover and cook until all the water has evaporated and the rice and lentils are soft enough to mash.

Variations:

  1. For infants, you might need to add some water and blend for a pureed consistency.
  2. For toddlers, you can just mash the khichdi with a spoon before feeding. This is easily done as the rice and lentils become very soft in the pressure cooker.
  3. You can add chopped vegetables such as cauliflower, peas, carrots and potatoes just before you add the rice. Fry the vegetables for a minute, then add the rice, mix well, add water and cook as above.

*Ghee lends a delightful, buttery, aromatic flavor to the khichdi. It is available in Indian stores.

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