Thursday, 7 October 2010

Khichuri II, OR, Once Upon A Rainy Day

The weather has been bloody awful in terms of going out, although in terms of staying in it has been purrrfect! It's cloudy and rainy and chilly and generally whiny like a baby with a cold, but given books and cups of cocoa alternated with strong tea, I have NO problems at all with weather like this. Of course, everyone from the parents to the help has been complaining about it no end, and then my mother made our cook go home because she was ignoring her swollen knees, which is apparently also the weather's fault. At which point I marched to the kitchen and produced this, and stopped all whining temporarily.

Any or all of the these: potato, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, peas. My favourites: potatoes+cauliflower+peas.
Jeera--1 tsp.
Ginger--an inch, freshly minced.
Small cardamoms--a couple or five.
Cinnamon sticks--a couple of long ones.
Cloves--three or four.
Bay leaf--1 (but I dislike bay leaves and cook without).
Coriander+cumin--freshly ground or at least, ground at home and stored.
Salt, sugar.
Ghee (clarified butter)
Mustard OR sunflower oil (or similar).
Kaljeera/Gobindobhog/Krishnobhog rice in Bengal. Basmati elsewhere. NO parboiled rice.
Moog daal (split yellow moong).

First, take rice and daal in a 1:2 ratio. That is, twice the daal for a given amount of rice. Now put a skillet/griddle/tawa on a high flame. After a minute, when the tawa is hot, turn the flame down completely. Let cool for a few seconds. Pour the sunshine-yellow daal and spread it around. Keep stirring it gently or it will char and smell smokey. After a while the daal will turn a richer shade of yellow and smell mildly of roasted lentils and look like it's all done.

Don't be fooled! Keep stirring.

Slowly, the richer sunshine yellow will turn golden--some will even turn golden-brown and brown--and the relaxing smell of roasted lentils will curl all around you like a fluffy blanket. Now you're done. Take it off the flame AND tawa immediately. If you leave it on the tawa, it will char because it's delicate and the tawa holds heat for a looong time. Keep aside.

Cut the cauliflowers into florets, potatoes into halves (or if monstrous, into quarters), and chop carrots, beans, what-have-yous. Rub the potatoes and florets with a little salt and turmeric and lightly toss them in a tablespoon of hot oil. Again, wait till they not only change colour but take on a nice golden-brown/golden-yellow fried texture. Throw in the other vegetables when the florets and potatoes begin to change colour, 'cause they need maybe 1/4 the frying the other two do. Drain and also keep aside.

To mince the ginger, chop it up and then mash the chopped bits with the flat end of your knife. Similarly smash open the cardamoms and then go ahead and pound the little black seeds inside. Lightly pound the cloves while you're at it. Now, in a pressure cooker (or a large, deep wok, or a large, deep iron skillet), heat a tablespoon and a half of sunflower oil with half a tablespoon of ghee (or use all ghee :-). Keep on high for about thirty seconds and then turn the flame down. Throw in the jeera and stir, till it turns... yes, a lovely golden brown. Now toss in the whole cardamom, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Turn up the flame a little. Fry fry fry! You'll be able to smell the heavenly smell of fried garam masala. Finally, toss in the minced ginger and fry it till light brown. All of this should take about a minute, or the jeera will char by the time the ginger goes in.

OPTION 2: throw in diced tomatoes. Attack them with your spatula/khunti till they're a hapless mass of pulp. Mix the pulp well with the spices. Then either add the fried vegetables and mix everything together for a minute on a high flame, followed by the daal and rice (this is what I did) or start with the daal+rice and add the vegetables after.

OR: go the normal way and skip tomatoes altogether at this stage. To the flavoured oil, add the rice and daal, stir consistently for a minute and then add vegetables. Add chopped or minced tomatoes after adding water, before the chilies go in.

After the above have been well-mixed, add cumin:coriander in 1:2, salt, sugar. Give one final folding-in. Add enough water to stand an inch above the solid stuff. Break a few green chilies in. Cover and cook on low till everything is done, or put the pressure-cooker's lid on and cook on medium for two whistles.

Add a tablespoon of garam masala powder (cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, dry roasted and ground) with a dollop of ghee. Mix this thoroughly with sweeping swirls of the spatula. Serve with crisply fried vegetables or fish, or even thin slices of chicken, batter optional in all cases. People also serve this with curries and sweet chutney, but I was too tired after this to bother.


Dea-chan said...

Rimi to the rescue!

Ha, Ted's kid sister is coming into town this weekend, so I'm like "hey Ted, you know you want me to make soup with the crock pot right?" he's like "eh..." and I quickly throw in "It'll be even quicker than getting a sandwich somewhere, because it will be DONE when we get in!"

Win. :-D

Rimi said...

Hahaha, complete win! Just buy bread on your way in :D

What soup did you make? Wait, let me check your blog...

P.S: I wish *I* was coming to town this weekend. Much missing happening.

Dea-chan said...

You need to see this. I would CALL you with the story if you were still local.

And I'm going to make another bean/sausage soup of tastiness.