If someone asks me which is my comfort food. “Khichri” would be my instant reply. I can have it at any time. For me, Khichri gives me a delight unlike quite a few who consider it has the food of patients. I love Khichri and that is the reason that I love to try different types of Khichri. I have tasted Khichri in almost all the regions in India and loved them all. However, one Khichri always eluded me. And that is Bengali Bhog Khichri or Bhoger Khichuri, as they call it. Luckily, a couple of weeks ago, I did have Bhoger Khichuri and that too an authentic one. How? Read on…..its interesting.
For quite a few years, I had this fascination about Khichri which is offered to the deity as Bhog during Durga Puja in Pandals and is then distributed as Prasad. For quite a some time I had intended to visit Puja Pandals in Kolkata or here in Delhi, but somehow could not materialise because Durga Puja coincides with Navratras in North. So, the good non veg food, including the Bhoger Khichuri, available during Durga Puja always eluded me. So, this year, two things happened in succession which led me to make this Bhog Khichri in my kitchen.
One, my friend Anindya Basu and Madhurshree Basu Roy, a husband-wife duo, who have this You Tube Channel, Cook With Pikturenama, published a Vlog on how to make Bengali Bhoger Khichuri. Secondly, it so happened that I went to Chitranjan Park, immediately after Navratras (read my post on my visit to Chirtranjan Park here) and bought Gobindobhog Rice, a fragrant short grain rice from Bengal, an important ingredient for the Bengali Khichuri. Now, I was all set to make and relish the Khichri which had eluded me for years.
I am sharing here the recipe which is broadly prescribed by Pikturenama.
1/2 cup Moong Dal (Moong Dhuli Dal) , 1/2 cup Gobindobhog, short grain rice, 2 Potatoes peeled and cut in quarters, Cauliflower florets, 1/2 Tbsp Ginger Paste, 1 Tbsp Mustard Oil, 1 Tbsp Desi Ghee and about 2 litres of Boiled Water.
1 Bay Leaf (Tejpatta), 2 Cloves, 2 Red Chillies (dried), a small Cinnamon stick and 1 Black Cardamom.
1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder, 1/2 Tsp Cumin Seeds, 1/2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder, 1/2 Tsp Garam Masala. 1/4 Tsp Sugar and Salt to taste.
Making The Khichri:
First of all, take the Moong Dal and Gobindobhog Rice separately and wash under running water. Drain out all the water and keep aside.
Boil about Two Litres Water and secure it so that it remains hot. I used a sort of homemade Vegetable Stock.
Wash, Peel and Cut the Potatoes in quarters. Similarly, wash your Cauliflower and take out big size florets. Keep the cut veggies in water till its time to use them.
Now, in a Kadhai (Cauldron) in which you want to make the Khichri, pour the Dal and dry roast it. Please be careful that it does not burn. It is advisable to do it on low flame and keep stirring. Once the Dal changes colour to a reddish tone (not every grain would turn red), its time to remove it off the flame and transfer in a plate to cool down. This roasting would give the Dal a nutty flavour.
In the same pan, heat Mustard Oil and fry the Potatoes. Please ensure that you do not cook the potatoes. Fry them till the edges of the potatoes are covered in golden brown colour. once done, take them out and keep aside.
In the same pan, add the Cauliflower. Add a bit of salt to help them cook. We need to cook them. After frying them for a while, cover the pan and let these simmer for till they are soft, the colour has turned a bit brown and are soft. Take these out and keep them aside.
In the same pan, add Desi Ghee. Once the Ghee melts, add the Bay Leaf and the Dried Red Chilies. Once these turn dark, add Cumin Seeds and stir. Soon, the spices would give out aroma. Its time now to add the Ginger Paste (one can use finely chopped too). Stir till the time the raw smell of ginger goes away.
Now, add the roasted Moong Dal and Turmeric Powder and mix it. Once mixed, add Salt and mix it.
Now add the Gobindobhog Rice and mix the rice with the Dal. Once the Rice is thoroughly mixed, add the fried Potatoes and mix it. Keep cooking this for a couple of minutes to ensure that the ingredients are properly mixed.
Now add the water so that the Rice and Dal are fully covered. Mix it with a light hand and cover the Kadhai. Let the Khichri simmer over low flame. After 3-5 minutes take off the lid and you would see that the water has reduced. Give it a mix again and add some more water to cover the rice. This process is similar to cooking Risotto where were keep on adding the stock gradually and cooking. The Rice keeps on absorbing the water. Here, you will have to do this at least four times.
Almost half way through this process of adding water and simmering the Khichri, add Sugar and mix before adding the third instalment of the water. Keeping repeating this process of adding water and simmering till the time the rice and dal are cooked. At this time, check for the Salt and add more to suit your taste. Keep cooking the Khichri till it becomes a bit thick and yet not dry. The Rice and Dal grains would have the shape and yet mixed with each other.
Now add a bit of more Sugar, the Garam Masala (I used the regular Punjabi Garam Masala) and mix it with the Khichri. It is desirable to keep the Khichri a bit runny because it would thicken as it starts cooling.
Now add the Slit Green Chilies and mix. You may add another round of Desi Ghee here and mix it up with the Khichri for it has a great friendship with Ghee. They both get along very well. More the Ghee, the better it is.
Now it is time to add the Cauliflower florets and mix them with a gentle hand to ensure that the soft florets do not break.
Serve the Khichri with love and side dishes of your choice.
My Khichri came out quite tasty and the way I longed for. The rice were soft and fragrant while the Dal was a sort of Al Dente types with a nutty edge. The spices were well balanced and all the flavours blended seamlessly. The veggies gave a pleasant look and the fresh taste to the whole concoction. I shared a portion of Khichri with my colleague Govind Sharma who is fond of Bengali food, for he lived long in Calcutta in his growing years. A certification of appreciation from him competed my experience of making and enjoying the Bhoger Khichuri which I have been wanting to enjoy for the past few years.
Making this Khichri is a long drawn process and needs lots of patience and love. You cook it gradually and not in a pressure cooker. Believe me, the result is equally satisfying and gratifying. The labour of love in making a Bhog for the Goddess finally pleases your palate and the tummy. Try it in your kitchen and I am sure, you would enjoy the process and the dish too.
Thank you Anindya and Madhushree for the recipe.
Since, I am fond of Khichri, I will be soon doing a Bajre Ki Khichri (Pearl Millet Khichri) and shall share the details of it with you. Till then…. you can read my other Khichri experiences of some different varieties here :