What is quick, easy-to-make and filling for lunch? If you ask us, it has to be khichdi. The one-pot rice dish made with minimum ingredients and less cooking time is relished mostly during the day time. Not only is it a delectable treat for the taste buds, it also offers the nutrition of lentils and a plethora of vegetables too. Khichdi is also treated as comfort food at times. The simple one pot dish seems to have a deep-rooted ancient history, wherein the word is derived from Sanskrit word khiccha meaning rice and lentils. What feels like an ordinary and easy hack was once fed to the Pandavas during Mahabharata by Draupadi. This is what makes khichdi so iconic. 

In fact, the humble khichdi also finds mention in tales of Lord Krishna and Sudama. It is believed that Sudama, Lord Krishna’s friend, arrived at his court with pots of khichdi to offer him. Even Greek travelers like Ibn Battuta recalls about something called kishri in his travel accounts. The fanfare for this simple rice dish was so extensive that even during the Mughal reign, you would find khichdi being prepared in the royal kitchens. From Akbar to Jehangir and Aurangzeb, khichdi was a favourite of these emperors during their rule, though the style of making khichdi differed for each one. Some liked it spicy while the others preferred a rich version. 

For those untouched by the phenomenon, khichdi is a basic combination of rice and legumes to which vegetables are often added. Potatoes, peas, carrots, beans and almost add vegetable available in the pantry can easily be dunked into the khichdi. While historic records suggest that khichdi was largely a vegetarian dish, we find one interesting variation from Aurangzeb’s court where fish was added to the dish. 

Similarly, Bengalis too enjoy a non-vegetarian version of khichdi, especially during monsoon and winters. There are two things that Bengalis cannot compromise on, meat and sweets. While there are plenty of vegetarian dishes too, it is their meaty fare that holds the most prominence. In terms of vegetables, potatoes are an important aspect of most meals. Take the Kolkata special biryani for instance.  In similar vein, they also enjoy a delectable Mangshor Bhuna Khichuri or Bengali-style mutton khichdi. Made with potatoes, moong dal and mutton, the khichdi is an appetizing affair. 

The first step in making this rice dish is soaking moong dal and rice in water. Simultaneously, mutton is cooked with water in a pressure cooker over low flame for a few minutes. Next, dice the potatoes and fry them in oil. With the same oil, spices like caradamom, cumin and bay leaves can be tempered. Onions are added to this and fried and then other whole spices like caradamom, cinnamon, cloves etc. are tossed in together. Ginger-garlic paste is added next and everything is sautéed together. To this, mutton and the stock is added along with the previously soaked rice-dal combination. Let all of this cook and halfway, add the fried potatoes. 

Combine this together and let it cook for a few more minutes. Sprinkle coriander leaves to garnish the khichdi and serve hot. 

Here’s a recipe of the khichdi that you can pair with fried eggplants (begun bhaja), green chillies and papad.