Kitcheri is a very simple recipe that requires only a few ingredients from the pantry. It's a blend of coral-colored lentils, called masoor dal, with basmati rice and a few other typical Indian spices.
It's very nutritious for all the vegetarians in the house. The lentils provide a lot of protein. The key to a good kitcheri though is a flavorful raita, or yogurt sauce. Check back tomorrow for the recipe!
Servings: 4 servings
1-½ cups basmati rice
3/4 cup masoor dal
4 cups water
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, for color
1 (1-inch) stick cinnamon
4 whole coriander seeds
6 whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
3 green cardamom pods
2 black cardamom pods, slightly crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons ghee
1 pinch sugar (optional)
1/3 cup fried onions, not too browned
1 drizzle lime juice
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
Mix lentils and rice in a bowl. Wash and rinse thoroughly in several water baths (about three times) and set aside for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight. Drain the rice and lentils.
In a medium-sized saucepan, add the oil and about 1-½ tablespoons of ghee. Do NOT burn the ghee as it browns very fast like butter. Add the ginger, garlic, the chopped onion and all the spices except the salt. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add the rice and lentils. The ghee and oil should coat each grain. Add the water and stir constantly. Add cilantro, bring to a boil without covering then lower to medium heat for about 20 minutes. Add the lime juice, salt, the fried onions and a pinch of sugar (if used). Place little mounds of ghee all over the rice. Seal the saucepan with aluminum foil and cover tightly with a lid. Steam should escape from the pan. Cook for another 30 minutes on low.
Garnish with some fresh cilantro and serve with raita.
Indian cuisine often calls for ginger garlic paste. It tastes great and is very healthy for you as well. Just clean the ginger, carefully removing any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife, then finely chop the root. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender, add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.
Ghee is the Indian version of clarified butter. You can find them in jars at the Indian store. But if you don't have ghee, you can add some butter instead to the rice.
Masoor dal (orange lentils) can be both found in any Asian or Indian stores.
Frying onions is easy. Chop the onion. Heat about 1 inch heigh of canola oil in a skillet. Fry the onion in the oil, stirring frequently to prevent the onion from burning until the color is evenly golden brown. Drain the oil on paper towels. I always have to make extra so that I can vacuum-seal and store in the freezer for future use. I place about one cup per bag. You can store them up to 3 months. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn. I keep them exactly the same way I would do with my extra pesto or the (papaya) meat tenderizer for my poultry.