Last year, around this time, I was in Calcutta, in the thick of Kali Pujo. It was there that I fell in love with the beautiful Bhoger Khichuri, the Bengali khichdi that is offered as prasad to Kali Maa. The bub fell in love with the sweetish khichdi, too. When I returned back home to Bangalore, I began craving for the khichdi all over again, and learnt how to make it too. Today, it is a much-loved dish on our table, especially on winter evenings like this one.
Since this khichuri is commonly prepared as bhog, it is usually strictly vegetarian (niramish), with even onion and garlic being excluded. The moong daal is dry roasted till it emits a gorgeous fragrance, which is what gives this dish the name of Bhaja Muger Daal Khichuri (fried moong daal khichdi). Vegetables that we commonly use in pulao – carrots, green peas, potatoes and cauliflower commonly – go into the making of this Bhoger Khichuri, which has a sweetish tinge to it.
I love how this Bhaja Muger Daal Khichuri is so very simple to prepare, a one-pot dish that takes just a few minutes to put together. I love how it is so hearty, so very satisfying, so very rich, thanks to the addition of the ghee and various spices in the garnish. I love how life enabled me to permanently bring home a slice of Calcutta with me.
Now, let’s see how to make Bhoger Khichuri aka Bhaja Muger Daal Khichuri, shall we?
Ingredients (serves 4):
Ingredients needed for tempering:
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1/2 tablespoon oil
- 2 dry red chillies
- A 1-inch piece of cinnamon (dalchini), broken into two
- 4-5 cardamom (elaichi)
- 2 small bay leaves
- 4-5 cloves (laung)
- A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
- A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves
- 2 medium-sized potatoes
- 1 medium-sized carrot
- A handful of shelled green peas
- 4-5 large florets cauliflower
- 6-7 green beans or 1/2 of a medium-sized capsicum
- 2 green chillies
- A 1-inch piece of ginger
- 1 cup rice
- 1/4 cup split yellow moong daal
- Salt, to taste
- Red chilli powder, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
- Dry roast the moong daal in a pan, on medium flame, till it emits a lovely fragrance. Transfer to a plate and keep aside.
- Now, prep the veggies that you will need to make the khichuri. Peel the carrot and potatoes and chop them into cubes. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Chop the coriander finely. Chop the large cauliflower florets into half. Remove strings from the beans (if using) and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Chop the capiscum into 1/2-inch pieces (if using). Peel the ginger and chop into small pieces, then pound them with a mortar and pestle. Keep the shelled green peas handy.
- Wash the rice in running water a couple of times. Drain out all the excess water, and place aside.
- Heat the ghee and oil in a pressure cooker bottom. Add in the dried red chillies, bay leaves, cinnamon pieces, cloves and cardamom, along with the asafoetida. Let the ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds, taking care to ensure that they do not burn.
- Now, add in the carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, green peas, capsicum and/or beans, along with the slit green chillies and pounded ginger. Saute on medium flame for a minute.
- Add the dry roasted moong daal and washed and drained rice. Saute on medium flame for a minute.
- Add in 6 cups of water, salt and red chilli powder (if using) to taste, turmeric powder and sugar. Mix well.
- Mix in the finely chopped coriander leaves.
- Close the pressure cooker and put the whistle on. Pressure cook on high flame for 4 whistles.
- Let the pressure release naturally, and serve the khichuri hot.
1. Traditionally, Gobindobhog rice is used to make the Bengali bhoger khichuri. I didn’t have any, so I used Sona Masoori rice instead.
2. Carrot, potatoes, green peas and cauliflower are commonly used in this khichdi. Potatoes are an absolute must in Bengali khichuri. I usually add in some capsicum and/or beans as well.
3. I use a mix of ghee and oil for the tempering. Feel free to use only ghee, and vary the quantity depending upon your family’s taste preferences.
4. Omit the sugar if you want to, but I personally wouldn’t advise it. I think the sugar adds a beautiful flavour to this khichuri.
5. Bengali bhoger khichuri is traditionally made without onion or garlic, and I tend to omit these ingredients too. Feel free to add them if you want to.
6. Traditionally, almost equal quantities of moong daal and rice are used to make this khichuri, but I have used only 1/4 cup moong daal for 1 cup of rice.
7. Skip the red chilli powder if you think the heat from the green chillies and ginger would be sufficient for you.
8. If you want, you could soak the rice for about 20 minutes before setting about making the khichuri. I usually omit this step.
9. Whenever I can lay my hands on it, I use Jharna ghee from Calcutta to prepare this bhoger khichuri. That gives the dish an even more beautiful taste.
9. Traditionally, it is a must to dry roast the moong daal before making the khichuri. However, I often make the khichuri without roasting the moong daal, and it still turns out fabulous.
10. You can cook the khichuri with the veggies separately, and then add the tempering at the end.
You like? I hope you will try out this khichuri too, and that you will love it just as much as we do!