Indian One Pot Wonder: Kee Khitcheree

This aromatic Kee Khitcheree is made with a combination of yellow mung bean (yellow split peas), rice, and lentils (my favorite legume). If you’re looking for an easy Indian dish, this is it. There are a number of optional exotic ingredients, but with a few key spices you can make an outstanding Kee Khitcheree.

Feel free to experiment with your favorite veggies and the water proportions. I generally prefer a thicker, porridge consistency version of this dish, but you can add more water to make it more soup like, as featured in this Huffington Post recipe for Birbal Kitcheree.

The second best part: You only need one (very large) pot! And, most of the core ingredients used here are not too exotic- you should be able to find most of them in your local grocery store (or your pantry!). This recipe is a great way to dip your toe into Indian cuisine.The best part: the first bite of this flavorful, healthy dish chock full of veggies and spices.

Kitcheree Yum!

Indian One Pot Wonder: Kee Khitcheree

Time: 50 minutes, 20 minutes prep, 30 minutes cook
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup split yellow mung beans (moong dal), picked over, rinsed and drained (you can also use yellow split peas)
1 1/2 cup lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
1 cup basmati or jasmine rice

1/4 cup ghee, butter or canola oil
dried whole chilies or chili flakes, to tasteKee Khitcheree Spices

2 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 bay leaves
8-12 whole cloves
6-10 black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon turmeric (more if desired)
1/8 tsp asafetida (optional)More Kitcheree Spices (alternatively spelled Asafoetida)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp garam masala

2 medium onions, sliced into short thick pieces
5-8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced (seeded if desired)
3-4 red potatoes, washed, diced into small chunks (optional)
1 medium zucchini or squash, diced (optional)
1 green or red bell pepper, diced (optional)
1 broccoli stalk, sliced (optional)
Broccoli florets, chopped (optional)

6-8 cups water
1 tsp garam masala

Salt to taste when serving

Special Tools: Food processor (optional), Large stock pot with a lid

What To Do

Soak the beans, lentils and rice in a medium bowl in cold water for twenty minutes (they should be covered with water). Drain off the water and set off to the side.

The Trifecta: Rice Lentils & Mung Beans

While this is soaking, prepare the veggies. You can chop off some prep time by using a food processor to slice the veggies (see what I did there? haha). Quarter the onion, then chop into thick slices- as below.

Kitcheree Onions

In a large stock pot, heat the oil, chili flakes (no dried chilis in my apartment!), cumin seeds, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, turmeric, garam masala and asafetida (optional) over medium heat.

Kitcheree Spice in the Pot

Mix to distribute evenly and cook for a couple minutes.

Goopy Spice Mixture- Kitcheree

Add the prepared veggies and stir with a heavy spoon to coat with the spice mixture. Place the lid on the pot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Veggies Ahoy!

The first time I made this with onions, broccoli stalk and jalapenos, and the second time with onions, zucchini, potatoes, garlic and bell pepper. Both were very good! Experiment to see what combinations you like the best.

Stir it up baby!

Scoop in the lentils, mung beans and rice to the veggie medley and mix with your heavy spoon.Add the Lentils, Rice and Mung Beanz

Turn up the heat to high, pour in the water (6 cups for thicker porridge consistency and 7-8 cups for a soup-like consistency) and 1 tsp garam masala and slowly stir to combine. Cover with the lid until the khitcheere begins to boil, then turn down the heat to low.

Kitcheree Water and Garam Masala

Simmer for twenty minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and rice are tender and the mung beans are chewy (they will be firmer than the lentils and rice). For a thicker, porridge-like consistency, let the khitcheree simmer until the water is completely absorbed but the mixture is still moist.

Kee Khitcheree- Ready to Eat!

Add salt if desired or with each individual portion. Serve hot with pickled jalapenos or chutney and naan or pita bread.

Advertisements

Adventures in Food #3: How to Explore A New Cuisine

In my last Adventures in Food post, I mentioned that Tumeric and Garam Masala were my first Indian spice purchases that were new to me. Now, I’m going tell you how to break into a new cuisine– you know, the food you love to eat in restaurants but think its too difficult to make at home.

Curry & Garam Masala

I really like Indian food, and after flipping through a few Indian cookbooks it seemed to me that Garam Masala & Tumeric were two of the core Indian spices (though of course this varies by region but we’re talking basic here). I already had and use ground cumin, so no need to purchase anything new there.

After deciding that I would make some sort of tumericgaram masala chicken dish, I began looking for Indian or specialty stores that would carry tumeric and garam masala at a reasonable price. My search ended with at a local Indo-American Convenience Store (the same location where I purchased the infamous naughty tomatoes). Happily, this was very close to a friend’s house so I knew the area quite well.

My first visit was a little intimidating– most of the items are in another language and look unfamiliar. To acclimate myself to these foreign treasures, I took a slow walk around the store, starting in the rice and packaged foods, then onto refrigerated items, and then finally ending up in the spice and legume aisle.I planned to purchase a package of Garam Masala and tumeric, but I was distracted by the rainbow of lentil varieties: Oily, split, yellow, red. I indulged my desires and picked up the 2 pound split red lentil variety. On a later trip, I purchased split yellow mung beans in an effort to branch out of my ‘rut’.

Moving on to the wall of spices, I allowed myself to get lost in the smells and names. Aamchur (sour mango powder). Choti Elaichi (Green cardamom). Ajwain (Thyme Seed). Asafoetida.Jaiphal (Nutmeg). Even spices I know and love took on an unfamiliar air with their imported packaging and Hindi names– and that is one of the bigger hurdles to overcome when venturing into a new cuisine: the vocabulary. Many of the Indian cookbooks I checked out from the library were “Intro” books, which was great because they contained copies explanations and definitions, often with a glossary of terms and substitution notations in case the ingredients are unavailable where you are. My advice to you is just to read as much as you can about your new cuisine to acclimate yourself to the core flavors, cooking methods and techniques.

When you finally bring your pile of treasures to the cashier, be sure to chat them up to find out how they use the items you’re purchasing. The gentleman who rang up my mung beans told me that he likes to eat them plain, after they’ve been pan toasted. I’m looking forward to trying that!

Here’s a quick summary of how to ease into a new cuisine without breaking the bank or your sanity:

1. Go to your local library and peruse the books on the cuisine you’d like to explore. If they don’t have any on the shelf, use their online catalog or ask your reference librarian to help you find cookbooks for that region.

2. Read those books! Flip through the books you found and mark any recipes that look tasty. Then, go back through the recipes you marked and review their ingredients and special cooking materials.

3. I would recommend selecting recipes that only use 1-2 core ingredients that you don’t already have on hand (assuming that you have a decently stocked pantry with your native spices & ingredients). Good beginner/intro to cuisine cookbooks will note where an ingredient is not essential or a replacement that is likely to be found in your country. Or, search the web for a conversion table like this one for Indian spices. In addition, keep an eye out for notes like: advanced, hard, 1-2 hours, etc. You want to start off with something relatively easy while you’re still learning.

4. Focus on recipes that use cooking instruments you already own, or get creative about ways to use what you have for the purposes described. E.g. a deep frying pan instead of a wok.

There you have it– the Bread and Butter Method to Exploring a New Cuisine (without breaking the bank or losing your sanity).

Let me know how it works for you! Share your experiences below.

Lentil Dip with Curry, Apples & Coconut

This recipe was inspired by flipping through the Moosewood cookbook that I checked out from the library and it instantly caught my eye – Lentils? Yes, please! Curry? Yes! Garam Masala? Yes yes yes. Coconut milk? Hmmm… Haven’t tried that yet. I am intrigued. (That was my inner dialogue as I read through the book, aka talking to my self).

Apparently, this dip can be healthy if you use reduced-fat coconut milk or apple juice. I wanted to use coconut milk because I’ve never cooked with it but all I could find was the regular, full fat version. I used Thai Kitchen, as it was recommended and doesn’t have preservatives.

This is Curried Lentil Dip, Not a Moldy BroccoliCurried Lentil Dip

Adapted from the Moosewood Cooks recipe.

Time: 30 min
Servings: makes 4 cups of dip

Ingredients

1 cup red lentils
2 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp vegetable oil or EVOO
1 cup diced onions
1 3/4 cups peeled, cored and diced apples
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tsp curry powder
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 cup reduced-fat coconut milk (or apple juice, or yogurt)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt to taste

Special Tools: food processor or blender

What To Do

Heat the water and lentils in a medium sized pot until the water boils.

Red Lentils

Then, simmer the lentils for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are mushy and the water is absorbed. They will look like this:

Lentils Mushy Mush

Meanwhile, saute the chopped onions, apples and garlic in the oil in a pan on medium heat for 5-6 minutes.

The apple never falls far from the tree....

Those are the chopped apples.

Measure out your curry and garam masala…

Curry & Garam Masala

Apple-Onion-Curry-Garam Masala

And stir them into the apple and onions and continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes. The apples and onions should be soft.

Be sure to coat the apples and onions evenly in the spices.

Lentils Apples Onions Coconut Milk in Food Processor

Puree the cooked lentils, apples and onions with the coconut milk (or apple juice or yogurt) and lemon juice.

Coconut Milk

P.S. Did you know that coconut milk is solid at room temperature?

P.P.S. I’m thinking of subbing low-fat yogurt instead of the coconut milk next time I make this… It will give that creamy texture but I use it more regularly in my cooking so it won’t sit in my fridge forever…

I now have 3/4 of a can of coconut milk to use up… I may just try to make my first real curry!

Raw Veggies

Taste to see if the dip needs any additional seasoning. You can eat this chilled or at room temperature– both are great! Serve with bread, crackers, chips or sliced raw veggies- I tried this with broccoli, carrots and broccoli stalks. Delicious! I also used this as a condiment with a mung bean & lentil dal dish (khitcheree– no, I can’t pronounce that) that I made (I promise to post about that soon!)- excellent!

Curried Lentil Dip

Happy munching!