I’ve always been a lover of Khichdi. So are you. And so is everyone.
There is nothing like a steamy, sultry, sumptuous Khichdi to make your taste buds come alive!
Khichdi, for the ignorant, is a soft, marigold-coloured blend of rice, lentils, vegetables and spices which forms a delectable, traditional cuisine all over India particularly in West Bengal.
On occasions, particularly on Saraswati Puja, we all wake up in the morning to a curiously pleasant mood. You know, there is something warm and savoury in the air, festive smiles dazzle around you, people draped in magnificent hues of yellow like marigolds; girls, boys, children and adults alike rush about to offer prayers to the Goddess of Wisdom.
But it doesn’t matter whether Maa Saraswati has blessed you with increased dosage of knowledge. All that really matters is the delicious dollops of golden yellow Khichdi dolling into our mouths to dulcify our appetite! Really, people couldn’t help hurrying in and hustling about the colleges or pandals and joining long queues to have the golden coloured prasad.
I remember very well the first time I’ve had the delightful Bengali Khichdi at our school. Ever since the experience, Khichdi tops the list of my food-favourites. Nothing, not even KFC Krushers or Burgers or Pizzas or Pastas or south Indian dosas or Pawbhajis or other knockoffs could knock your tongue off better than Khichdi does!
This soft, pliable, marigold-hued, spicy blend of rice, dal, vegetables and masalas feels so marvellously mellow as it caresses your tongue along with the sweet tamatar chutney (tomato puree) and, now comes the best part, when you cut those crispy Bengan pakoras (fried Brinjal Wheels), happiness bursts flavors in your mouth and spreads in your every cell to your heart’s content! Khichdi, undeniably, is the kaleidoscope of flavours and emotions! Aha! Scrumdiddylumptous!
Believe me, if given the choice and power, I would have declared Khichdi as the National traditional cuisine of our country.
It is as much delightful to see Khichdi being prepared as it tastes. I’ve had the chance to see it brewed at a Shiv Mandir on one occasion.
“It’s the perfect balance that matters…” the cook, an old man in his sixties, a loincloth around his waist, says. To me, the cook is a priest marrying a couple. With practiced hands, he skilfully marries the virgin, uncooked Chawal (Rice) to the dry-fried Moong Dal (Pulse). Chawal and Dal have been true lovers ever since time immemorial! He pours the Rice-Dal mixture into a large kadai (pot) along with water and begins blending it with a large spatula. And as if to accentuate the romance, he peppers the masalas – ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, chillies, and vegetables like potatoes, peas, cucumbers, pumpkins and other potpourri and paraphernalia into the pot (Hard to remember them all, hats off to the cook!) The lid is covered, leaving the Khichdi to boil and blend in the hot crucible. The tomatoes are peeled off and puréed to make the sauce. Meanwhile, the cook’s trainee, a young man in his twenties, slices the Brinjal into wheels, dips them into the gram-flour batter and then drowns them into a pan of hot oil. Sputter, crackle, splutter – the music plays on as the pakoras get prepared.
After an hour and so, Khichdi comes into being – goldenly gorgeous and sprucely spicy! It’s served hot with sweet Tamatar chutney complemented with Fried Brinjal Wheels.
Khichdi, believe me, has to undergo an immense pressure of beating, blending and boiling. Nature seems to have made common rules for all to succeed: blend yourself in with the experiences, plunge yourself into the hot crucible and emerge out triumphantly as Gold!
And yes, having relished the Khichdi, you are bound to have a sound sleep.
Well, as of now, I am off from my office to have a delicious romance with the Queen of Delight – A pot-full of Khichdi – in my home. What about you?