There is something about the rains that can turn anyone into a hopeless romantic.
One look outside the window, with some time at hand, and you are sure to write verses.
Dreamy, cloudy skies. The persistent screen of rain. The breeze ... somewhere balmy; somewhere cold.
A fluttering curtain. A twirl of smoke above a cup.
Fresh green everywhere.
The smell of ghee, roasted dal and jeera wafting from the kitchen.
That aroma itself can turn a Bengali into a poet.
There is something that binds the khichuri and the rains and a Bengali together.
If it is raining, it has to be khichuri on the day's menu. There may or may not be a maach bhaja on the side; even better if it is an Ilish maach bhaja.
But other wise, khichuri has a lot of other accompaniments go with it. Most of them will be deep fried bhajas or boras.
Then there will be the labra or a mix vegetable on the side.
Followed by the tomato chaatni and Papor(papad) bhaja.
I had made this khichuri a few days back when an old friend, D, had dropped in to watch the Ratha yatra on the telly with me. She does have a telly at home, but wanted to be with me this year when I will be watching the rath without getting Bapi's call in the morning ... "Tv ta chaala .... roth shuru hoye jabe je!!"
There was no fish at home. And somehow this niramish khichuri seemed apt on this auspicious day when Lord Jagannath sets off for a vacation to his aunt's place.
D watched with amusement as I quickly lay the table and arranged this cluster to click a few snaps.
I was in such a hurry that none of the photos came out well .... the sun played spoilsport too and it was very cloudy.
But that will make no difference to the taste or the flavour of this beautiful khichuri.
This is also called the Dala khechedi in Oriya.
Very different from the Bengali dhala ( of pouring consistency) khichuri, this khichuri is very dry and the grains of the rice and the dal are not cooked into much. Rather, they will stay whole and just done.
I love coconut .... so added it.
You may skip it in this khichuri.
Here is a closer look at the texture.
Yellow moong dal - 1 cup
( The traditional Oriya Dala khechedi has moong dal with the skin on )
Rice - ½ cup
Jeera - 1 tsp
Tej pata - 1
Whole red chillies - 2, broken
Black cardamom - 1, broken
Cinnamon - 1 small piece
Grated or chopped ginger - 1 tbsp
Haldi powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Roasted jeera powder - 1 tsp
Grated coconut ( optional ) - 5 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Sugar - to taste
Salt - to taste
Hot water - around 4 cups
How to :
Dry roast the dal in a thick bottomed, heavy kadahi, on low heat.
Stir constantly. Do not brown.
Roast only till you get the nutty aroma of roasted dal.
If you have a kitchen exhaust, I suggest you keep it switched off now ... you may not get the aroma; a major part.
Wash the rice and the dal and keep aside.
Heat oil + ghee in the same heavy kadahi.
Add jeera + tej patta + whole red chillies + black cardamom + cinnamon.
Add the chopped ginger.
Add the haldi powder + red chilli powder + the rice and dal.
Mix around well and keep stirring on low heat till everything is dryish.
This will take around 5 to 7 minutes.
Raise heat and add the hot water + salt + sugar + roasted jeera powder + 1 tsp ghee.
Cover and cook till rice is just done.
Do check for water in between ... but do not add too much.
When the rice is not too soft but done, switch off heat and let it stand covered for 5 more minutes.
After 5 minutes, remove cover and fluff it lightly with a spoon or fork.
I had made the Ramrochak tarkari instead of the labra .... to give a feel of Odiya food.
And the Tomato chaatni with khejur / dates .... the quintessential Bengali as well as Odiya favourite to go with the khichuri.
And of course papor bhaja.
You can pair it with fried vegetables like the brinjal, pumpkin or the parwal too.
My home made Aamer achar came to join the band too.
All in all .... had a good time with good friend, good food and reliving memories.
No complaints there ... not even to Jagannath too.