The word ‘khichdi’ is usually met with sighs and pangs considering its boring tag. However chefs are on a mission to change that. Unofficially designated as the national dish of the country, the humble Khiccā (in Sanskrit) has come a long way.
Experiments & More
Born with the aim of creating a differentiator in a rather cluttered market and curating consistent food experiences for everyday India, Khichdi Experiment has given a flavourful twist to India’s original comfort food. With 20 different varieties that incorporate local elements, ingredients and flavours, Khichdi Experiment caters to both vegetarian and non-vegetarian eaters. “As a truly Indian brand, we believe there is no other better dish to start our food journey with than Khichdi. In an endeavour to offer holistic experiences with food, we launched our first restaurant in Bengaluru and are also experimenting with different retail models, including a corporate kiosk, presence in malls, food trucks and on multiple delivery platforms,” says Pranay Jivrajka, CEO – Ola Foods.
The team at Khichdi Experiment incidentally has spent much time understanding the Indian palate, while playing around with popular and evolving taste preferences. From the classic Plain Dal Khichdi to the Palak variant and even Bengali PanchPhoran Khichdi and Hyderabadi Khatte Dal ki Khichdi, each flavour is a play on the classic dish from states across the country, with an added twist.
Khichda is a variation of the Arabic dish Harees or Harissa. Khichda is very popular with Muslims of the North Indian subcontinent. It is made up of lamb meat, lentils and spices, slowly cooked; but the chunks of meat remain intact and not absolutely dissolved with lentils. Khichda is cooked all year around and particularly during Muharram and Ramadan. “Khichda has been one of my all-time favourite dish, always looked forward to it whenever I used to travel to Lucknow and Kanpur or prepare it myself at home during Ramadan month. It is a beautiful and classic dish which never got its due recognition and the dish is still trapped within the walled cities of Lucknow, Kanpur & Agra, hence I decided to introduce the legend of ‘Khichda’ to the world,” says Ahsan Ali Qureshi, Co-Founder, Cross Border Kitchens. While khichdi is always vegetarian, khichda is always made with meat.
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Twist of Taste
There is no shortage of ingredients in India and therefore experiments with khichdi have become common. “At Fortune Hotels, while all our chefs take inspiration from the regional variants of khichdi and present before guests in their respective locations across India, we have also extensively worked around offering this staple diet to our guests using with it forgotten grains and unusual fruit and vegetable combinations like- jack fruit, banana flower, millet and the like,” says Chef Rajkamal Chopra, Corporate Chef – Fortune Park Hotels Ltd. “Full of healthy fibre, proteins, vitamins, and essential minerals, this dish is an integral part of our day-to-day life and is one of the most preferred dishes for consumption during bowel disorder”.
Chef Kuldeep Nahari, Proxy Bar and Café Hyderabad adds- “Khichdi is comfort food. With a multigrain recipe, we have tried to make it as healthy and varied as possible. While the ingredients used may vary, but the process remains intact. Most people prefer brown rice over white rice so here we experimented with an assortment of flavours and ingredients to reinvent the quintessential Indian dish.”
Prepare your khichdi with a twist using lentils like pigeon pea, black gram, yellow moong, and a combination of white and brown rice and broken wheat. Add your choice of veggies or meat.
This one pot meal is wholesome with a perfect balance of nutrients, proteins, carbohydrates, fibre and calcium. “The nutrients would vary with the addition of veggies/meat you would add. The recipe should be easy to prepare, should retain its nutrient value and you should also feel that comfort as always after having it,” concludes Chef Dipak Adhikari, Mercure Hyderabad KCP.