I am not a big admirer of lentils or rice but on some days, that’s just what I need. And when these two are mixed together, slow cooked to a luscious porridge, seasoned with whole spices and clarified butter, it turns into a super hearty meal! This dish has got several names – khichdi, kichuri, khichdee, etc. depending on the different regions in India. There are also several ways to prepare the dish. It can be prepared with different kinds of lentils. Sometimes vegetables are added to make it more filling and sometimes, it’s left to just rice and lentil. Bhaja Mung Daal Khichuri is a quinessential bengali style khichuri that is very special to us!
Bhaja Mung Daal Khichuri
It literally translates to roasted yellow mung lentils and rice stew. It is comfort on a plate for most Bengalis. It’s prepared on several special occasions, mostly festivals. No matter how much meat or fish we Bengalis crave, during the time of festivals, we all desire the humble khichuri. Served piping hot, smooth to the palate along with some crispy fried veggie to compliment the texture. It’s the simplest kind of feast.
Pan roasting the yellow lentils brings out a lovely nutty aroma and an earthy taste to the Khichuri. Although any kind of rice can be used to prepare the dish, it’s always recommended to use short grain rice so both rice and lentils cook together evenly. I am quite fussy about Khichuri and when I crave it, there is no shortcut version. It has to be slow cooked. Topped with the essence from the spices, little heat from red chili and lots of ghee for that robust aroma.
And this is exactly how my mom makes it!
- ½ cup yellow spilt lentils, moong daal
- ½ cup short grain rice
- 1 tablespoon clarified butter
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 dry red chilies
- 1 teaspoon panch phoron, Bengali five spice
- 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Dry roast the lentils in a pan until it’s mild brown in color.
- Pour 3 cups of water in a big saucepan along with rice and roasted lentils. Bring it to a boil and then drop it down to medium low heat. Sprinkle salt and allow it to simmer until rice and lentils are half cooked.
- Sprinkle turmeric and give it a stir. Continue simmering until the rice and lentils are completely cooked through and it turns into a smooth stew. Add more water if it gets dry and continue cooking. Check for salt and add any, if required.
- Once Khichuri is ready with the perfect smooth texture, switch off the heat.
- In a separate pan, heat ghee and add bay leaves along with dry red chilies, panch phoron and finely chopped ginger. It should take about a minute to sizzle up. Drizzle the whole thing to the Khichuri and give it a mix.
- Serve warm with your choice of sides like crispy fried veggies, pickle or some crunchy papad.
Bengali five spice is basically a mix of five whole spices (fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, nigella seeds). If you cannot make or find bengali five spice, replace it by using some of the whole spices from the five spice list.