Sunday, November 10, 2013

Convalescence

I've always been fascinated, looking through the cookbooks I've brought home from India, at how many recipes are designated for particular health challenges -- makes perfect sense, of course, since so much of Indian cooking is based on aryuvedic principles.

My friend Kathryn, an accomplished cook (far more technically adept than I could ever hope to be), has been sick, and her stomach is tender. She sent out a message saying she was desperate for taste, and was looking for recipes on my blog. I told her I would post a recipe that is standard Indian fare for getting over stomach ailments -- it's mild, easy to digest, very nourishing, and restorative. I used to make it for my daughter when she was a toddler, adding in green peas and carrots -- she loved it. And of course, adults in good health love it, too, served (in Sindhi households) alongside sai bhaji and dahi (yogurt), or really any spiced vegetable dish, or perhaps just with dahi and papads.


The dish -- khichdi -- is basically a porridge of rice and dal, cooked until the consistency of a very loose risotto or congee. It has ginger (good for tummy troubles) and turmeric (used in India for millenia to treat liver and stomach ailments because of its antimicrobial properties), and is seasoned with ghee (gives you strength) and cumin seeds. The dal used is yellow mung dal, one of the easiest to digest.

Comfort food, plain and simple.

Khichdi
Serves 4

Mung dal is hulled and split mung beans (lower left);
also pictured are masoor dal (upper right), chana dal
(upper right), and toovar dal (lower right).
1/2 c yellow mung dal
1/2 c basmati rice
1/4 tsp turmeric
3 coins (slices) ginger
2 TB ghee
1/2 tsp cumin
salt

1. Soak the mung dal and rice in cold water for 1/2 hr. Drain.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine dal, rice, turmeric, ginger, and 1 tsp kosher salt, along with 5 c water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. The dal will foam; skim this off with a slotted spoon, and allow the mixture to cook at a lively simmer, partly covered, for 45 minutes till very soft. Stir with a wooden spoon -- the rice will break down into a soft mush. It should be the consistency of a loose risotto -- add a bit of water if necessary.

3. In a small frying pan, heat ghee until very hot. Add the cumin seeds. When the cumin changes color, becomes aromatic, and perhaps starts to crackle, add to the dal and rice mixture and stir. Check for salt. Serve hot.

4 comments:

6pairsofshoes said...

I once had food poisoning on a visit to L.A. After drinking only apple juice for days, I went to an Indian restaurant. Dal and rice was soothing and calming. I can testify to the healing properties of this. I'd just never seen the two mixed together. Thanks for this.

The Invisible Flaneuse said...

Yes, you'll never see this in a restaurant -- it's pure home food. But it's common in almost every region in India, made slightly differently, sometimes much more highly spiced.

Sheila said...

Guess where they serve khichdi. A the Taj Hotel Mumbai!
A friend of ours who was staying there last December had a bout of Bombay belly, so he looked at the room service menu and found a section on light on the stomach dishes and there it was "khichdi". Trust the Taj to think of everything:)

The Invisible Flaneuse said...

Haha -- I don't believe it! Perfect medicine, though.