Kichiri (Rice and Lentils)

I won’t lie, when I was planning to make this dish, I got a little giggly – Kichiri is Indian comfort food – it tastes like home – it’s full of stuff that’s great for your body and super easy to digest – it’s what you feed people when they’re sick – it’s India’s ‘chicken soup’ – also, really simple to make – it took me about 15 mins to get the ingredients prepared and just 15 mins of cooking (which pretty much involves me sitting back and waiting for my Kichiri to be ready!)



1 cup of basmati rice or other long-grain rice
1/2 cup of split lentils (like split green mung beans)
1 small onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 cloves
12 peppercorns
2 tsp whole cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground chilli
Salt (to taste)
2 tbsp vegetable oil for cooking
4 cups of warm water for cooking


Getting the right rice & lentils (dahl) is key.  I’m using split green mung beans – green dahl is easy to find in any Indian grocer and it’s cheap – it’s quick to cook and full of goodness.  If you use black or whole dahl, then they take a little longer to cook, so adjust your cooking times accordingly.  If you buy your dahl from a supermarket, you’ll pay a premium – go and make friends with an Indian grocer!


Start by washing your rice and dahl under running cold water.  You want to keep washing your rice and dahl until the water runs clear – all that starch will make your dish quite stodgy, so get rid of it.  Drain your rice & dahl, set to one side – try to get as much of the water out as possible (without pouring your mixture down the drain – yes, I’ve done this a couple of times!)


Heat your oil in a large saucepan and add in your cumin, cloves and peppercorns – let them cook for about 30 seconds.  Don’t have your pan too hot or they’ll burn – if they do, chuck it out and start again.  The whole dish will have a bitter taste.


Add in your onions, coriander, chilli, ginger, garlic and salt.  Most people know I’m not a big fan of salt, but you need some in this dish – so add in at least 1/2 a teaspoon.  Fry your onions gently until they brown.


Time to put in your rice & dahl and fire up the heat on your stove.  You want to cook your rice a little to give it richer taste.


I’ve cooked mine until my translucent rice has started to go white – not brown.


Pour in 4 cups of warm water and mix everything around.  Make sure there aren’t any stray grains of rice on the side of the pan.


Cover and bring to the boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10 mins.  Don’t be tempted to open the lid – don’t be tempted to tamper with it – magic is happening – you can’t do anything.


Remove the lid – DON’T be tempted to stir your dish – there’s still a bit of water in there and you could mush the whole lot.  Remove the lid and cook for a further 5 mins to dry it out.  You’ll see the whole spices have risen to the top – if you want to remove them, you can – we leave them in, but they can be a not-so-pleasant surprise for someone not realising what they’ve bit in to.  Most Indians will finish their plate and have a pile of whole spices to the side – we’re just used to it :)


Serve with lots of plain yoghurt and big dollop of butter – mix and enjoy.  Ok, I won’t be answering questions for a while – I’m off to eat!!!


10 responses to “Kichiri (Rice and Lentils)

  1. Pingback: Comfort Food | Ekant Cook Curry·

  2. Ekant, have you tried equal quantities of Dahl and rice in your khichri? It gives a richer taste. And as an alternative, you can also use the split urad dahl with skin on. Again a very different texture and taste.

  3. Looks great, I’m going to try this tonight! Would it be sacrilege to put a bit of spinach in at the end for colour? Thanks!

  4. mine’s pretty much the same but i dont add garlic or ginger for some reason… also try it with tinned sardines, spring onion, fresh green chilli, fresh coriander, toms, lemon juice made into a “salad” yummy…

  5. When do you add the garlic and grated ginger? After browning the onions? BTW do you leave your garlic cloves whole or put them through a press?

    • Sorry I didn’t make it clear! Garlic and ginger go in at the same time as the onions and are cooked off together. We leave all our whole spices in the dish – Indians become very adept at sifting them out whilst eating – you’ll see many Indians will have a pile of spices on the side of their plate – far more efficient than one person picking them out at the start :)

  6. Love the recipe. My family left licking the plate. Even my traditional husband who does NOT cook loves to cook this. Thanks!

  7. Pingback: Here is a healthy and simple recipe for kichiri | Read, View and Hear – news about my books and paintings·

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