While Hyderabadi cuisine is well-known for its meaty curries and decadent desserts, it is their love for khichdi that finds place on the breakfast table too.
Whenever you want to make a quick and easy lunch or dinner, you mind might wander into several directions and come back to the point where you know that a one-pot dish would work best. Since all ingredients are dunked together in a pot, the flavours of all get infused with each other and work wonders on your taste buds. Rice-based one-pot dishes are a common phenomenon in India. Need we remind you of the aromatic biryani prepped in different parts of the country. While biryani is a slightly lengthy affair, it is khichdi that is often treated as comfort food. A light and easy preparation of pulses and rice, khichdi is generally eaten for meals like lunch and dinner.
Interestingly, the Hyderabadis have an immense love for khichdi and have managed to take it to the breakfast table too. Did you know that the origins of khichdi date back to the 14th century records of Ibn Batuta? This Moroccan traveller’s accounts highlight a dish made from mung beans and rice that he tried in India. Moreover, there is evidence of the fan fare of khichdi in the Mughal era too, especially during Akbar’s reign. The word khichdi is derived from Sanskrit word, khiccā, which refers to a combination of rice and pulses.
The adaptation of this humble one-pot dish can be seen in the variety of khichdis that you find across India. Some make it with leafy greens and fried fish like the Bengalis while some others like Gujaratis like to add a spicy yoghurt gravy to their khichdi. Among these lies the Hyderabadi khichdi which is a breakfast staple there. While this khichdi is made from rice and masoor dal like usual, the uniqueness lies in the til ka khatta that is served as a side dish.
A special til ka khatta or imli ka khatta is prepared which is usually served with the khichdi, adding a tangy flavour to the dish. For the unversed, til and imli ka khatta is an sweet and sour preparation of tamarind and sesame seed water, which makes a delicious chutney that is paired with the khichdi. Usually made with basmati rice, the khichdi is dunked with lentils like masoor or moong dal. It is a rich and hearty preparation that is loaded with tons of desi ghee before serving.
While the rice is soft and al dente, it doesn’t get mushy while cooking and lends an earthy and rustic texture to this nutritious breakfast item from Hyderabad. Flavoured with cinnamon, cardamom, green chillies and ginger-garlic paste, tomatoes and potatoes are also sometimes, added to the khichdi. Shahi jeera is sprinkled from the top and it is the softness and sweetness of onions which packs in a punch of flavour.
The til-imli ka khatta that is paired with the khichdi is usually a combination of raw ingredients that don’t require any cooking. While sesame and tamarind are the key components of this condiment, sliced onions and fresh coriander leaves are also added to the chutney along with green chillies for some more flavour.