22 September, 2020
‘Kyaa Khichdi pak rahee hain’, is a commonly heard phrase when people suspect something is happening, whether good or bad. Almost all of us would have heard of the ‘Birbal Ki Khichdi’ story as well. This perhaps means that Khichdi must have been in existence in India, from ancient times. The onset of monsoon, perhaps, has brought the mention of Khichdi back into our homes. Nothing pleases our senses more than a plate of piping hot Khichdi when it is pouring outside. Yes, it comes with many names across the length and breadth of this country. But Khichdi is a humble, common Indian food, which even our Michelin Star Chefs have relied upon to make them proud!
Yes, celebrity Indian Chef Vikas Khanna had served Khichdi to none other than PM Modi’s guests at a dinner held in New York. The guests hosted by the Indian PM were some of the world’s biggest CEOs at the Waldorf Astoria. More recently, Chef Vikas was again called upon to collaborate with Ola Foods during the lockdown for a unique, KhichdiChef contest. It is part of the Khichdi Experiment initiative, a flagship brand of Ola Foods. As a part of this, the customers were asked to share their Khichdi recipes to co-create this comfort food. So, what makes this popular Indian food dish so famous and is it just all hype or is there more than what meets the eye in Khichdi?
Names and Versions
Perhaps, you may be surprised to know that Khichdi is a very common dish across India, with a lot of variations, adding to its flavour, and popularity. Called Khichdi in the North, it is known as Huggi in Karnataka, and the more famous Bisi Bele Bath is also a variation of the same. The Pongal of Tamilians is more popular as a breakfast dish and it also has a sweet version. In Andhra and Telangana, it is called as Pulagam, while Bengalis call it Khichuri.
Typically, made with rice and moong dal, along with a few spices, it has many variations. Almost any lentil is used along with rice, and many people also add vegetables, and even greens like palak to make this dish. While mostly it is a ‘khara’ dish with some spices, especially, pepper, it is also made with jaggery or sugar for the sweet version, which is also used as ‘Naivedyam’ for pooja.
Also, some healthier versions of Khichdi exist now, wherein you can substitute rice with oats, poha, dalia, etc. The addition of multiple vegetables and using Tur Dal instead of Moong Dal are also popular variations that have been tried out. The spices can be mixed and matched according to your taste and liking, keeping your health in mind. A few variations even blend in non-vegetarian options like fish and eggs, into this.
If you are wondering why Khichdi is made out to be a superfood, then here are the benefits that this delectable food offers you. Since it is predominantly a combination of rice and lentils (maybe veggies as well), it is wholesome food. This combination provides our body with essential nutrients like Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous and calcium and of course, fibre too. It offers the best possible combination of carbs and proteins, along with amino acids.
This makes it easy on digestion, and hence, it is a preferred food, even when people are sick or old, and are unable to chew more, or digest easily. Many babies are introduced to solid food in the form of Khichdi, for this reason. It is gluten-free unless you change the main ingredients of rice and moong dal to other stuff.
Even, going by the ancient Ayurvedic wisdom, Khichdi balances three of the four doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. It is also supposed to cleanse your system, and hence, the preferred food during Ayurvedic treatments. Since Khichdi uses spices like Turmeric, a known super spice, the benefits of the same is also derived by eating this. The anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic benefits of Turmeric are good for any season, and especially for the Monsoon.
Lentils used in Khichdi also help to regulate the blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and in maintaining heart health. Khichdi could be topped with a spoon of ghee for better health, or it could be eaten with a cup of raitha as well. What is even more delightful is that it is a one-pot meal that is also easy to cook, and does not require any great culinary skills as such. So, this Monsoon, experiment with Khichdi, and stay healthy.
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