What is Khichdi?
Khichdi basically means One-pot-meal. The word Khichdi originates from Sanskrit word 'Khicca' meaning a dish cooked using rice and pulses/ lentils. It could be Masoor Dal Khichdi, Toor Dal Khichdi, Ven Pongal, Vaalachi Khichadi, Kedgree, Khichuri etc. depending on what part of India you are dining in.
An old Hindi saying:
'' खिचड़ी के चार यार- दही, पापड, घी और अचार''
'' Khichdi key chaar yaar- dahi, papad, ghee aur achaar" this can be loosely translated to ''Khichdi's four buddies- yogurt, papadum, ghee, and pickle (achaar)''
- In the 16th century, Khichdi was a staple in rural kitchens.
- Ibn Batuta, Abdul Razzak, Fansisco Balzac and many others have mentioned Khichdi in their writings. Ibn Batuta describes Khichdi as “Munj is boiled with rice, then buttered and eaten. This is what they call Kishri, and on this, they breakfast every day.”
- Afanasy Nikitin, a Russian traveller in 1470 AD, writes about khichdi's chronicles and about feeding it to his horses.
- French traveller Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, who visited India in 1600 also mentions khichdi as an evening meal.
- Ain-i-Akbari has mentioned Khichdi as well. In 1590 AD, use of an equal amount of rice, moong dal and ghee to prepare Khichdi for Emperor Akbar. Ghee was specially imported from Hisar, Haryana.
- Jahangir, Akbar's son, also enjoyed khichdi when he did not eat meat. Legend has it when Jahangir Salim returned victorious from Gujarat, Akbar greeted him with this delicious recipe from his 'Dastarkhwan' (royal kitchen) and named it 'Laziza' (meaning delicious) which used dry fruits along with spices.
- In the 19th century, Nawab Nasiruddin Shah's dastarkhwan was known for its Royal Chef- Raquabdar who made khichdi using almonds and pistachios that were carved down to look like a rice grain and moong beans respectively. Mashallah!
- In Gujrat and Rajasthan, Bajra (Millet) replaces rice in khichdi.
- Kedgree: A British breakfast khichdi with fried onions, chicken, boiled eggs and fish.
- Sushruta mentions in his work- Sushruta Samhita about Vata properties of any dal in general, but moong dal is different and can be eaten every day.
KHICHDI AND ITS VARIANTS
- In Tamil Nadu, Ven Pongal is the favourite dish prepared during the festival in every household.
- In the colder region of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Gharwali Khichdi is made from sesame seeds, urad dal and hot spices.
- In West Bengal, Niramosh Khichuri or Bhog er Khichuri is prepared as an offering to Durga on Puja night.
- In Uttar Pradesh, Amla Khichdi is made using Urad dal and amla (Indian gooseberry) around Makar Sankranti/ Lohri - Harvest festival.
- In Gujrat and Rajasthan, millets are used in place of rice to make khichdi.
- In Hyderabad, kheema (minced meat) is eaten with khichdi as a popular breakfast.
- Karnataka has Bisi Belle Bhat, a variation of khichdi made using rice, lentils, vegetables and spices.
- Maharashtra has Vaalachi Khichdi made using Vaal (a variant of Lima beans), kolambi khichdi (prawns rice), vangi bhat (eggplant khichdi), toor dal khichdi (pigeon peas).
PRESENT DAY SITUATION:
As the world got closer and closer, the gastronomic scene in India changed quite a bit. Khichdi lost its lustre somewhere between global cuisine, refined dining, fusion food, and nouvelle cuisine. Once upon a time, this one-pot-meal, a salient preparation in royal kitchens of India, imprinted in diaries of world travellers hundreds of years ago, is merely considered a sick person's or a poor man's sustenance.