Kichdi- the word brings about myriad memories. It is a very popular staple in most rice consuming societies. We Kannadigas have our own huggi/ bisibelebhaath, Tamils have their pongal, Oriyas, Bengalis, Biharis have their own recipes for this rice and beans dish. East Asian societies have their own versions of Kitchdi. Rice and beans is popular in Mexico. Risotto though typically made without beans is so much like own own huggi/pongal/kichdi. It has to be given kichdi is such a simple dish, easy to prepare and flexible in terms of ingredients. However, if not made well, kichdi can be very difficult to consume. Like Sabarmati hostel mess back in JNU.

Saturday lunch typically consisted of kichdi, yogurt, papad , pickles and ghee those days. My first encounter did not go well. I tried every possible combination of kichdi and accompaniments. Despite ladles of ghee, pickles it still tasted bland. It did not help that when students were stick they could request for 'sick' food and that would be the same kichdi  sans the accompaniments. My relationship with kitchdi progressively estranged to the point that I could not swallow a single mouthful even if I tried to shove it down with a pusher. Any day I notice the tin of Ghee on the mess counter, I would turn back right from the door.

And then after years, we visited a local Bengali temple during Dasara and they were serving kichdi for prasad and it was delicious. It was simple enough but the combination seemed to work. Now kichdi is my go to recipe if I am hard put for time. It is simple and comes together in no time.

We will need,

Rice 3/4 cup
Masoor dal 1/4 cup (yes that is my secret!!)
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Cardamon black 1
Bay leaf 1

Cabbage shredded  about 1 cup (more if preferred)
Cauliflower florets  1 cup
Green beans diced 1/2 cup
Carrots diced 1/2 cup
Green peas 1/2 cup

Oggarane /Tadka
Ghee 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Hing a generous pinch
Green Chillies 4-5 (adjust according to taste)
Ginger paste 1 tsp

Salt and lemon juice to taste.
Coriander for garnish (optional)

  • Wash rice and dal in several changes of water and soak it in water enough to completely cover it for about 20 minutes-30 minutes.
  • Meantime prep the vegetables. Wash, trim and dice the vegetables. 
  • Combine the rice, dal and vegetables in a pressure cooker. Throw in the turmeric, cardamon black, bay leave with  4 cups of water. Cook till the rice is soft about 2-3 whistles. Remove from heat and set it aside. Alternately rice and dal can be cooked in a heavy bottom pot till half done and then the vegetables thrown in to be cooked till done. But the recipe made in pot will need more water than in a pressure cooker.
  • To prepare the oggarane, heat ghee in a small pan.Throw in the mustard seeds and hing. Once the seeds splutter, throw in the slit green chilies and ginger paste. Saute for 30 seconds or so and remove from fire.
  • Once the pressure has reduced and the pressure cooker is safe enough, open it and ensure the rice and vegetables are done. Fold in the Oggarane and adjust salt, lemon juice. Heat it gently stirring at regular intervals. Garnish with coriander if using. Serve hot with ghee, yogurt, papad and pickles as the Hindi saying goes -"Kichdi ke chaar yaar, ghee dahi, paapad aur achaar"

Bananti Saaru

I have been meaning to post more postpartum recipes but lagging behind. A few months back when a dear friend had a baby, I had an opportunity to make some special postpartum dishes for her. Here is the basic Saaru/dal. This is more of a template than a recipe. Essentially vegetables and dal combination can be varied but the spices and the process need to be pretty much the same.

We will need,

Toor dal/Moong Dal  about 1/4 cup
Turmeric  a pinch
Vegetables  1 cup (diced carrots, diced Chayote squash, green beans, dill , spinach, Methi leaves)

Ghee 1 tbsp
Black pepper corns 2 tsp
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Hing a generous pinch
Dry red chillies 1-2
Curry leaves
Garlic 3-4 cloves
Salt to taste
Jaggery to taste(optional)

  • Wash the dal in several changes of water and soak it for an hour or so. It can be soaked overnight if you happen to be forgetful like me. Drain and place it in a pressure cooker along with a pinch of turmeric and about 1 cup of water and cook till the dal is completely mushy. If baby happens to be colicky, throw in a pinch of hing and a few drop of ghee with the dal and then cook the dal.
  • Cook the vegetable separately till soft. Alternately vegetable can be combined with the dal in the pressure cooker just that the vegetables will end up mushy. 
  • Now prepare the Oggarane. Crush the jeera and black pepper corn into a coarse powder. 
  • Heat Ghee, throw in the hing, curry leaves ,broken red chilly and crushed garlic. Fry till the garlic is fragrant. Toss the crushed black pepper and jeera mixture. Saute for a few seconds and quickly pour it into the cooked dal.
  • Combine the dal, cooked vegetables and the oggarane well. Heat it thoroughly. Adjust salt and jaggery if using. Serve hot with steamed rice.
The idea is to eat freshly cooked food. But if it is not possible in this age of working mothers the recipe can be doubled/tripled. Just ensure to reduce the number of garlic cloves  by 2-3 for a bigger batch.

Herekayi Gojju

My food blogging efforts have come down drastically. This year I have been super lazy looking at the number of posts. It is also true that since I started blogging the world wide web has changed so much. I feel like complaining the way my late grandmother used to , 'everything has changed so much since our times, we did not do/eat/live/sleep etc like this'. Whatever it is, for better or for worse, change is the only constant in our lives. So it is not surprising that our kitchens look drastically different from our grandmother's and also mother's. We do love experimenting in our kitchens, eating out etc.

Then there are days we would want to stick to the classic comfort foods. On one such day, I made some Jolada Rotti  and Herekayi Gojju. I do not deny the pleasure I derive from international cuisine, be it French, be Italian or Asian, but then only desi foods seem to fuel my body and soul. I have even coined a term for it  - "stomach happy food". When we go out to eat, we do not do point scale 1 to 10 any more. We say the food was either 'stomach happy' or not.

It is somewhat akin to a vagabond rooting for a place to call home. Sometimes I wonder if it is aging.  Or that familiarity has faintly allowed contempt to creep in. I do not know. All I know is the excitement I felt when I placed a spoonful of great tasting exotic food on my tongue, is just so longer there. It is all about making sure my stomach is happy and soul is satisfied.

Here is for some soul satisfying Herekayi Gojju
We will need,

Herekayi/Ridge Gourd 2

Grated Coconut 1/2 cup
Byadagi Chillies 4-6 (adjust accordingly to taste)
Cinnamon 1/2"
Cloves 4
Dhania seeds 1 tsp
Tamarind extract 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Jaggery to taste

Oggarane :
Ghee 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Hind a generous dash
Curry leaves 10-12

  • Wash the ridge gourd very well, scrubbing well between the ridges as well. Scrape the ridges if it is too woody. Chop it into 1/2" pieces. 
  • Set a pan on medium heat. Toast one by one chillies, cinnmon, cloves, dhania on the hot pan. Be careful enough to not let the spices burn. Turn off the heat and place the coconut on the warm pan stirring around to gently warm the coconut. 
  • Place all the toasted ingredients in a blender with a little water and pulse it till very smooth
  • In a pressure cooker, place the diced ridge gourd and the spice mixture and stir together. Add more water if the mixture is dry. There should be enough water to form the gravy.
  • Cover the pressure cooker and cook till one whistle. Alternately, place the gourd and spice mixture along with some water(more than you would in a pressure cooker to account for evaporation related moisture loss) in a heavy bottomed pot and cook till the gourd is soft.
  • Once it is safe enough to open the pressure cooker, prepare the Oggarane. Heat ghee in a pan. Throw in the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds pop, throw in the hing and curry leaves. Quickly remove the pan from heat and pour it over the cooked gourd and spice mixture. 
  • Adjust salt and Jaggery, heating it gently if required. Serve hot with a bread of choice.