Cooking Khichuri

Posted on May 31, 2012

7


Someone once told me that in Bangladesh, sharing food is the closest thing to sharing love. In this country, where the memory of hunger is firmly etched into the national consciousness, eating is a solemn and important occasion. Dinner table conversation is almost entirely replaced by the licks, burps, slurps and gulps of mouths, food and fingers being merged into one.

Before I came to Bangladesh, I imagined that the food wouldn’t be too different from Indian cuisine. It’s true that they share the staples of curry and rice, but Bengali food has quite a distinctive flavour and style. For me, Bangladeshi food is much more homely – even when it’s prepared in a restaurant, it tastes like it has been cooked lovingly by a saree-wearing Grandmother.

One of my favourite dishes is khichuri, which is somewhere between China’s fried rice and India’s polao. It is perfect comfort food – filling, salty, delicious and heart-warming.

Yesterday, my lovely colleague Anju decided to give me a lesson in cooking sobji khichuri (vegetarian khichuri) which I thought I’d share for anyone who is curious about Bangladeshi cuisine. (In exchange, I taught her to make pasta, and we shared the meal with the office – it wasn’t long before someone suggested that chilli powder would make it taste nicer!)

Khichuri

Preparation time 30 – 40 minutes

Makes enough for 3 – 4

(NB these measurements are definitely not Bengali!)

Ingredients:

1 and a half cups of scented rice

1 cup of daal

Any vegetables – tomato, pumpkin, potato, spinach etc

2 onions

4 cloves of garlic

1-3 green chillis

1-2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon turmeric

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons of mustard oil

Directions:

1.  Throw the daal and rice into a bowl together and wash them thoroughly. Leave them sitting in the water for a few minutes.

2. Chop the vegetables, onions and garlic (in Bengali cooking, bigger chunks are better).

3. In a saucepan or pressure cooker, heat the oil and add onion and garlic. Next add the vegetables, then the rice and daal. Fry it for a minute or so.

4. Add enough water to cover the ingredients – Anju says the rule of thumb is 2 fingers deep for dry khichuri or 3 fingers deep for soupy khichuri. I prefer soupy!

5. Add the turmeric, bay leaves, chilli and salt.

6. If you are using a pressure cooker, close the lid and leave the mix to simmer until the whistle has sounded 5 times. If you’re using a saucepan, leave the mix for 10-20 minutes or until it has reached the desired consistency.

7. Shesh! (That’s all!) Time to eat!

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Posted in: Food