Thursday, 28 February 2013

Khichri- The Ultimate Comfort Food

Khichri or Khichdi, a very mundane everyday dish that i grew up eating specifically when recovering from some illenss, or to give my tummy a rest due to stomach upset. It was an interesting experience to research, prepare and present Khichri as a Pakistani cultural healing food, as one of the major assignments for a course I am taking on Health, Nutrition Sciences and Disease Prevention. 

The multicultural class from all around the world are required to each focus on one of the Healing Food from their culture. My assignment focused on introducing the popular comfort food Khichri from Indian Subcontinent. It is rejuvenating, hot and nutritious porridge like one pot cooked rice and mung bean based dish. Khichri is mentioned and prescribed by Ayurvedic physicians and tradition. 

Healing begins with the digestive tract, this dish is believed to detox the body giving it a break from constantly processing food. Khichri provide nourishment and restores systemic balance warming up the bones chasing away the fatigue with a boost of energy. The spices and condiments in Khichri includes not only gives it its signature taste and flavour but are full of amino acids, antioxidents and have anti inflamatory abilities due to the combination of spices. Khichri is given as first solids food to babies, helps regain the energy and vitality as the first food in almost all kind of post surgical convalescence and after long periods of fasting. 

It is evident from the literature on Mughal history that this simple very easy to cook, low calorie and low cost dish, was very popular among the Mughal Emperors.  Travellers and  advetourers from other parts of the world including  Greece  and Russia also mentioned this south asian dish in their writings.


Recipe of Khichri:

-Brown Rice- 1 Cup
- Split Yellow Mung Beans/Dal/Mung Lentil- ½ cup
Brown Rice considered as the healthiest whole grains with Magnesium and Selenium, and Mung Bean both are rich sources of dietry fibre, carbohydrates. In fact Mung can be called Super Foods packed with protein, vitamin C, folic acid or folate, iron, minerals including zinc, potassium, magnesium, copper, managanese, phosphorus and thiamine.


-1/2 teaspoonTurmeric: a yellow powdered spice which gives the distinctive golden yellow colour to Khichri, it has been used thousands of years in curries in Pakistani food. Now research shows that turmeric help prevent Alzheimer’s disease because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action and immune-boosting properties—all of which may help to block or remove plaque from the brain. It’s not surprising that one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s ever reported was found in Pakistan.

5-6 whole Cardamom or ¼ teaspoon powdered

1 stick Cinnamon or ¼ tsp powdered:

These two are expensive and  aromatic spices with exceptional carminative properties. Cardamom has 25 volatile oils, and some of these oils help reduce ulcers in laboratory animals. Cinnamon a very important ingredient of ancient Chinese medicine helps in blood circulation and provide warmth and sooth body.


Ginger: ½ teaspoon freshly crushed to paste, Gingerol, a pungent ingredient of ginger has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor-promoting activities.

Garlic Paste ½ teaspoon; research studies have clearly indicated that association between increased intake of garlic and reduced risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and breast.

2-3 Bay leaves are also added but taken out before serving the Khichri. This is an amazing herb with centuries old history of being popular for its medicinal properties. Traditionally used as diuretic, have astringent properties, healing wounds drop in blood glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol.

Fresh Green Coriander sprigs: half a bunch, wash and pluck the leaves. These frangrent herbs are a great source of phytonutrients elemol, camphor, borneol, carvone, quercetin, keampferol and epigenin besides loaded with vitamins. Helps increase good cholesterol, good for digestion and nervous system.

Adding salt to taste these herbs and spices with medicial properties when cooked as per following recipe makes it an ideal healing food since centuries


1. Wash one cup of yellow mung beans and soak overnight.
2. In a blender, liquefy one tablespoon of peeled, chopped ginger; and a handful of chopped cilantro with one-half cup of water.

3. In a large saucepan, lightly brown one-half teaspoon cinnamon; one-quarter teaspoon each of cardamom, pepper, freshly crushed ginger and garlic pods, turmeric, salt; and three bay leaves  in 3 tablespoons of olive oil
4. Drain the mung dal and then stir it into the spice mixture in the saucepan.

5. Now, add one cup of long grain brown rice.
6. Stir in the blended spice, followed by 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook on low heat for approximately 25 to 30 minutes until soft and mushy. Its consistency should be porridge like.
7- Serve piping hot garnished with coriander/cilantro sprigs

Nutrient analysis:
      Serving size- 50gms/ 1Bowl
      makes- 5-6 bowls
      Total fat (grams)-1.4gms
      Saturated fat (grams) 0gms
      Sodium (milligrams) 440mg
      Carbohydrate (grams) 12gms
      Dietary fiber (grams)- 7gms
      Sugars (grams) 1gm
      Protein (grams) 5 gms

The dish comes handy if you are looking for low cal energy food when ill, for weight watchers and whenever you need that boost of energy without all the additional fats or carbs. 

If you are not counting calories, then khichri can be accompanied by yogurt and mint chutney, Oil based mango or mixed vegetable pickles, or a spicy herbed mashed potato side making it a complete meal anytime of the day.

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