Mar 032010

Grounding Kichadi

Grounding Kichadi

After a trip, after sickness, or anytime some digestive comfort is desired, nothing satisfies like kichadi. Kichadi is a a simple stew of basmati rice and split mug dal. I grew up eating it with kadhi and a side of plain yogurt, since my childhood in an Indian village. It’s my favorite comfort food combo. I thought kichadi was an ordinary peasant food, like Macaroni and Cheese here. Then I started seeing it in gourmet settings. It truly is a perfect, nutritious food.

After a trip to San Diego the past weekend, I was out of sorts and craved some comfort food. My son had a stomach upset. This is the way it goes after a trip, when your diet has been off its routine. So kichadi was the answer. I followed a recipe somewhat from “The Ayurvedic Cookbook” (Morningstar, Desai). The book lists a variety of recipes to suit one’s needs and dosha. Kichadis are considered the core of Ayurvedic nutritional healing.

I modified a recipe for Digestive Kichadi” based on what I had on hand:
Preparation time: ~1 hour, serves 3-4

1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsps ghee or sunflower oil
3 bay leaves
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp oregano, dry
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh ginger root, grated (I have some in the freezer, which I grate)
1/2 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup split mung dal
4-6 cups water (I used a little less)
3 cups fresh vegetables, such as carrots, zuccini, or summer squash, diced (I used some broccoli I put in the freezer before my trip and frozen peas)

Wash the rice and beans until rinse water is clear.
Warm the ghee in a medium saucepan. Add the cumin seeds, bay, coriander and oregano. Brown slightly, until aromatic. Stir in turmeric, rice and dal. Add water, salt, and ginger. Simmer covered over medium heat until beans and rice are soft, about 1 hour (was less for me – try to make sure it doesn’t turn into a smooth porridge – which can still be tasty). Wash and dice vegetables. Add them and cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes more.

It turned out tasty. I had some plain yogurt on the side. I was only missing the Indian pickles to go with it, which would have made it perfect. I need to get to the Indian store. As an added bonus, my 1 year-old liked it, with yogurt on the side. She seems fine with Indian spices and the consistency was just right for her. It had been a while since I made it for her. She has been having rice and dal with yogurt, which is similar.

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