,

‘Khichuri’

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.


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