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!)

Ingredients:

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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

Method:

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!

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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 :)

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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!!!

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