Written by Writer Hritika Bhattacharya and edited by Managing Editor Meghana
“Rains billowing on the windows and the winds flowing by, making the weather a degree cooler than the normal monsoon months. The day is getting gloomy and the clouds hover like a sheet of dark cotton balls…”
A perfect day or a perfect setting for a pot full of steaming hot “Khichuri”. A comfort food for some, a delicacy for others, khichuri has been traveling the world since the vedic times.
Khichuri is the Bengali variant of what is known as Khichdi in other parts of India. When compared to Khichuri, khichdi is quite bland. The reason is that in West Bengal, this dish has a celebratory significance as it is offered as “Bhoger Khichuri” during durga puja festivities.
The very own Khichuri of the Bengalis is actually a simple preparation :
•Dry roast moong daalIn a pressure cooker,
•add some rice, a few veggies and some spices.
•Lower the flame and cook it for 15-20 mins
•And it’s ready to serve.
This dish can be served with various types of bhaja or Deep Fried vegetables like cauliflower, brinjal, potato etc.
Khichuri and Bhaja is a classic combination and a very household dish of every Bengali in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Another amazing combination is having it with labra, a dish with a mix of vegetables, primarily leafy vegetables.The simple recipe of khichuri is actually a wholesome dish as it blends with rice, lentils, veggies, and spices and tastes amazing.
The “Khaddoroshik” (food-loving Bengali) houses have a different version, known as ‘Bhuni Khichuri’ which is a pulao version in the world of khichuri, studded with fried veggies and served with either ilish bhaja (fish fry) or labra.
According to Colleen Taylor Sen, Khichuri, Khichdi, or whatever you wish to call it – “is pretty close to being a universal dish”. One of the reasons it’s becoming an universal dish can be its beautiful trait of “Adaptability”. Khichuri adapts to numerous taste palettes and recipes – you can have it when you want to have something light on the stomach, or when you want to have a heavy, nutritious meal. The adaptive trait of a khichuri is limitless.
This is also one of the primary reasons why it has travelled places, been part of numerous cuisines and yet the basic ingredients remains the same – lentils , rice , veggies and spices.
Khichuri is nostalgic, as it takes me back to my childhood days when Ma would make a pot full of hot steaming khichuri every Saturday. Another custom of a Bengali household is to eat khichuri on every Saturday, the idea behind which is to put aside one day of the week to eat vegetarian food, because the whole week Bengalis indulge in having fish as one of their mandatory non-veg food.
So what better than a steaming pot of KHICHURI and BHAJA!?Khichuri being the flag bearer of the trait of adaptability has actually taught me the fact that one needs to be able to adapt not only in various geographical places but also in relationships. My relationship with my long distance best friend actually started off with our love for khichuri or khichdi as she called it. We bonded over the fact that such a simple preparation can be sooo fulfilling each time. We shared our cultures over the different recipes of khichdi, and acquired a taste for each other’s version of the dish.
An incident I still remember is when she came to my city during the festivities of Bengalis Lokhi Puja (Laxmi puja) at my home. In my house we offer khichuri as prasad to the deity as a part of our culture, and she savoured many different forms of khichdi – different from what she ate back in her hometown Hyderabad.
She ended up sharing her traditional recipe of khichda to my mom as she wanted to give a glimpse into her culture. Thus, the adaptive trait has helped me learn to appreciate the differences a degree more than I used to.
Khichuri being a comfort food and a celebrated dish in every Bengali’s life makes us nostalgic and help us learn to appreciate both at the same time. I hope you are now craving a pot full of steaming ‘Khichuri’ or khichdi or however you call it in your region.
Hey there dear reader, hope you enjoyed reading this article. Sign up for the UNVERBALISE NEWSLETTER to get such stories directly in your mailbox.