I am normally a healthy person who rarely gets sick.
Therefore, when I do get sick I make up for lost time. I don’t just become ill, but dramatically, flamboyantly ill. Like last week. “A little tiredness” from a beautiful weekend trip to Asheville quickly morphed into 102 degree fever, chills, and bronchitis. Fortunately, while I was still in the “a little tired” phase, I had the foresight to make a giant pot of khichdi!
Khichdi (also called kitchari or kheechri) is a very simple Indian dish made of lentils and rice and seasoned with turmeric and salt. It is given to babies and the very old, as well as to anyone a little under the weather. It has just enough flavor to tempt a weak or picky appetite. It’s easy on sore throats and sore tummies, and is very easily digested. For such a simple food it’s also very nutritious – high in protein, B vitamins, iron, and zinc.
My recipe for khichdi may differ from other recipes you have seen. For one, I use red lentils (masoor dal) instead of the more traditional moong dal. This is the way my partner’s mother makes it, and the way we both prefer it.
Second, there are a great many jazzed-up khichdi recipes out there – with garlic, onions, peppers, vegetables, and spices. While I don’t doubt for an instant these recipes are delicious, they have moved away from the concept of being easy to eat/easy to digest. Do you really want hot peppers when you have a sore throat, or spicy foods when you have an upset stomach? My recipe may seem plain, but trust me, it’s just what you want when you’re ill.
If you aren’t ill, my favorite way to spice this up is with mango pickles! Simply swirl a little into the khichdi. This is especially good once you have moved past the “sore throat” stage of a cold – the spicy pickle will help relieve your congestion a little! Just be aware that mango pickles tend to be salty, so if you plan on eating your khichdi with pickles you may want to use less salt in cooking.
Like all my recipes, this is vegan. This one also happens to be gluten-free!
Ingredients for Khichdi for Colds:
1 cup Red Lentils (masoor dal), sorted and rinsed
1 cup Basmati Rice, sorted and rinsed
1/2 – 1 teaspoon Turmeric
1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt
5-6 Cups Water
Directions for Khichdi for Colds:
Add the red lentils and basmati rice to a large soup pot. (As always, remember to “look” over your rice and lentils for any sort of debris – plant matter, stones – and rinse several times in cool water!)
Add water. If you prefer a dryer porridge, start with five cups of water. If you like your khichdi a little soupier, as I do, start with six cups of water.
Add the turmeric and salt (remember, use less salt if you’re planning to eat with mango pickles).
Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The lentils should break down and get “mixed up,” forming a sort of gravy. The rice should be soft and mushy. Add a little more water, if needed, to get the consistency you want.
Serve and enjoy!
Note: This will get considerably thicker upon standing (or after being in the fridge). Just add a little water when reheating.