Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Toor Dal Khichidi (Pigeon Pea Rice)

My wife grew up in San Diego very close to the Mexican border; a place blessed with the best rice and beans North of the border and something she misses dearly. I would never attempt to cook rice and beans (as it would inevitably taste like an amateur hack job) especially for someone who has grown up eating it. As I thought about the Mexican rice and beans, I couldn’t help but think about the Maharashrtian khichidi. Cheap and downright delicious comfort foodthat never fails to transport me back to Pune. I have fond memories of being fed soft khichidis topped with ample ghee whenever I was feeling a bit under the weather. On one such occasion I introduced my wife to this humble food with spectacular results. Although, a lentil khichidi can never replace rice and beans as my wife’s favourite food, I think it is pretty high up on the list based on the requests I get to cook it.

2 tbsp cooking oil
1 cup uncooked Basmati Rice, washed
1 cup Pigeon Peas, washed (or Moong Dal)
1 Onion finely shredded
1 tbsp Tomato paste
1½ tsp Maharashtrian Goda Masala
½ tsp Cumin & Coriander seed powder
¾ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Chili powder
½ tsp Asafoetida
½ tsp Mustard seeds
½ cup chopped Cilantro
Ghee for garnish
Salt to taste

In a medium sized pot heat the oil and temper mustard seeds
Add chopped onion and stir and allow it to cook till light brown on the sides
Add Cumin & Coriander powder, Chili, Turmeric, Asafoetida, Goda Masala and stir for a minute
Add the Rice and Peas and stir for a minute till it is a homogenous mixture
Add 2 cups of water, salt and stir in cilantro
Allow it to cook on medium heat stirring occasionally and adding water as needed
Keep cooking till peas are cooked and mushy
Serve hot garnished with cilantro and ghee with pappadum and pickle