Khichdi: The OG Grain Bowl
Is it us, or are grain bowls having a moment? And with good reason. When prepared properly, grain- and vegetable-based bowls are balancing for the digestive system, making them the perfect food to help ease the damage that processed, overly acidic or fatty foods have on our systems.
Featured throughout one of our newest books, OJAS, “khichdi” is a slow-cooked, traditional Ayurvedic version of the grain bowl. Made with grains, legumes, spices and herbs, it’s designed to help you absorb the maximum amount of nutrients. But that doesn’t mean it’s boring or bland.
According to chef and author Nira Kehar, the recipe for khichdi is essentially:
- Cooking liquid (water / stock)
- Gluten-free grains (rice / quinoa / millet / brown rice)
- Legumes (lentils / beans)
- Spices (including alliums like garlic and onion)
Throughout OJAS, Chef Nira shares twelve recipes for khichdi, featuring the flavors of each season. Try your hand at this spring variation, then riff on the base recipe with other wholesome ingredients!
- ¾ cup dry chickpeas
- 2 teaspoons asafetida powder
- ¾ cup brown rice
- 1 tablespoon any vinegar or lemon juice (optional)
- 1 cup tightly packed parsley leaves
- 2 cups water
- 1½ tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved, rinsed, and thinly sliced
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Bitter Spice Mix (see below)
- 4 cups vegetable broth or water
- 1 teaspoon fine Himalayan salt, plus more to taste
- ⅓ cup chopped dill, plus some intact fronds for topping
- ¼ pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed, sliced on an angle
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
Bitter Spice Mix:
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- ¼ cup finely sliced chives 3 scallions, trimmed and sliced
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 lime, cut into six wedges
The Day Before:
- In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, cover the chickpeas with water, add 1 teaspoon of asafetida, and bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the chickpeas soak for 60 minutes (preferably overnight).
- In a medium bowl, cover the rice with 2 cups of water and add the vinegar (if using); soak for as long as possible, preferably overnight.
The Day Of:
- After chickpeas and rice have soaked, prepare the green purée. Place the parsley in a blender with the water. Blend until the mixture turns an even bright green, then pour it through a fine-mesh sieve into a small pot. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until you see green particles rising to the surface. Let the mixture cool, then pour it through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. (Be careful not to push the mixture through; just let it strain on its own.)
- Set the strained liquid aside (or enjoy as a green juice shot). Scrape as much of the green paste of the cheesecloth as possible and refrigerate, covered.
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil, then add the shallots, garlic, leek, and spice mix. Cook until vegetables are translucent. Then, add the chickpeas, rice, the remaining 1 teaspoon of asafetida and the broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the mixture to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour, making sure there is always enough liquid in the pot.
- About 45 minutes into cooking, add salt. After an hour, taste the khichdi, and, if the chickpeas and rice are not very tender, continue cooking for up to 30 minutes longer.
- Once the khichdi is cooked, remove it from the heat and stir in the parsley paste and chopped dill. Mix well, and cover for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the asparagus and peas in a steaming basket for 5 to 10 minutes (check texture and continue steaming for up to 5 minutes more if you wish).
- To finish: Serve 2 large spoons of khichdi into each bowl. Top with the hot steamed vegetables, dill fronds, chives, scallions, and sesame seeds. Drizzle each portion with a squeeze of lime juice.
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