Food,  Heritage

Khichdi-chokha: Bihar’s comfort food

There is this thing about Bihari homes and Shanichar ki khichdi. if you don’t make masoor dal ki khichdi on a Saturday, you will encounter fierce arguments and glum faces! I have blogged about the reasons and superstitions behind why it is eaten on Saturday earlier here. It is one of my most popular blog posts and I am usually swamped with requests for the recipe. So here are the recipes. Bihar’s most favourite comfort food. Don’t blame me if you overeat and oversleep after this meal. So maybe that’s why Saturday nights are perfect to oversleep!

Like all good things, this needs to be slow cooked over a low flame. I can’t stand the idea of pressure cooking this khichdi. The consistency has to be semi-solid and flowy. And this khichdi has to be served with its “chaar yaar ghee, dahi, papad aur achaar.

However we cannot imagine having this without chokha. This is aalu bharta, or mashed potatoes done the Bihari way. This might vary from household to household. This is the way it is made at my house.

Masoor Dal ki Bihari Khichdi

Ingredients

Rice (don’t use Basmati. Any normal rice will do)- 1 cup
Masoor dal (red lentils) -1/2 cup
Green peas- 1 cup
Tomato (chopped)- 1
Ginger garlic paste – 1tsp
Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Bayleaf -1
Badi elaichi (Black cardamom)-1
Green cardamom- 2
Cloves -2
Cinnamon-1 stick
Salt
Ghee- 1 tsp
Coriander leaves for garnish

For tadka (tempering): ghee, cumin seeds, 2 finely chopped onions, one dried red chilly

Recipe

  • Wash and soak rice and dal separately
  • Heat ghee in a thick-bottomed vessel. Add cumin seeds, bayleaf, cloves, cardamom, badi elaichi and cinnamon. Let them splutter.
  • Add the washed masoor dal and the ginger-garlic paste. Saute for a minute. Add a cup and half of water. Add salt.
  • Add green peas, chopped tomatoes, and turmeric powder. (Some people also add chopped cauliflower. I don’t)
  • Place a lid and cook on a slow flame for 10 minutes
  • Check to see if the dal is half-cooked.
  • Add the rice and two cups of hot water.
  • Cover and cook on a slow flame stirring intermittently. This will take around 20 minutes.
  • Cook till the rice and dal are no longer separately distinguishable and the peas are nicely cooked. The consistency must be semi-solid and not dry. Remember it will dry out after cooking too. Check for seasoning and adjust salt if required.
  • For the tadka, heat ghee in a small pan. Add cumin seeds and the red chilly. Let them splutter. Add chopped onions and fry till translucent and light brown. Pour the tadka over the khichdi.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Serve hot with a dollop of ghee and chokha.

Aalu Chokha

Ingredients

Potatoes- 4
Salt
Dried red chillies-2
Onion- 2
Garlic- 4-5 cloves
Mustard oil – 1 tbsp

Recipe

  • Boil, peel and mash potatoes.
  • There are two versions to making chokha.
  • (a) The rustic version: Roast the dried red chilly over an open flame. Crush it into the mash. Add coarsely chopped onions and garlic with salt. Add raw mustard oil. Mix and mash well. Serve.
  • (b) The city version: Heat mustard oil in a pan to smoking point. Then cool it down. Add the dried red chilly broken into pieces. Add finely chopped onion and garlic. Fry until onions are translucent. Add salt. Add the potato mash. And stir well until the entire chokha is brown

Choose your pick of the two.

Try it and let me know how it worked.

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