When we had discovered it, on one of our aimless rides, it was just a small hall with the huge deity of the Baba. Slowly, over the years, it has grown in size and is now a sprawling mandir with lawns, gardens, a community center, a prasad hall and numerous other small sized mandirs dedicated to the gods Ganesh, Shiva and Lakshmi. We often went there in the evenings.
Initially, not a lot of people knew about it, so was less crowded and more peaceful.
Once evening set in, lamps would be lit all around the mandir. After the aarti, we would sit on the low marble parapet, surrounding the main hall and open on all sides. Someone would sing bhajans quietly in a corner. A few devotees would sit around or just walk up for a darshan. Far from the city, it's noise and rush, sitting there in the quiet evening breeze, it always felt wonderful.
There, two men stood with a big sized vessel. One was handing out small paper plates or donas. The other was serving prasad. We went over and saw it was khichdi/khichuri. Steamimg hot, wonderfully mushy and full of flavours. Heavenly!
This khichdi was very different from the usual ones that I am used to. Be it the Bengali khichuri cooked at home, the khichdi cooked for Jagannath at Puri, which is usually dryish, or the Bhog er khichuri that we get as prasad during Durga puja. I tried to guess what it might contain ... could figure out some ingredients like the whole black pepper, ghee no sugar etc...., but a lot more stayed unknown. So I asked one of the men serving the prasad. He told me to go to the prasad center ... the people there will be able to answer correctly.
And I found the recipe for the simplest yet the most flavourful khichadi I've ever had.
I make this very often at home now, especially during winter or the rains. And haven't made any other khichadi for a long time now.
This can be made in the pressure cooker too ... if you are in a hurry. But tastes best when slow cooked in a kadahi.
Rice - 3 fistfuls ( I had whole Basmati, but this tastes better with slightly broken rice ... so you may use kani too )
Red Masoor dal - 1 fistful
Yellow Moong dal - ½ fistful
Freshly grated coconut - 2 fistful
Ghee - 3 tbsp
Whole black peppercorns - ½ tsp
Whole red chillies - 2
Black cardamom / Badi elaichi - 3
Freshly grated ginger - 1 tbsp
Haldi / turmeric - 1 pinch
Red chilli powder - to taste
Moongfali / Peanuts - 4 tbsp ( or more if you like )
Water - around 6 coffee mugfuls ( you may need more or less ... add accordingly)
How to :
Wash the rice and dals together. Keep aside.
I don't soak them for a long time ... just wash them when starting to cook.
Lightly heat 2 tbsp ghee in a deep, thick bottomed kadahi.
Add the cardamoms, peppercorns and red chillies.
(The whole red chillies are my addition.)
Then add the grated ginger. Fry a little ... not too much.
Add the rice and dals.
Add water immediately ... on high heat ( do not fry the rice and the dals ).
Add haldi, red chilli powder and salt.
Add the grated coconut and the peanuts.
Cover and cook.
Keep checking the level of water ... it should not dry up. Keep adding water as required.
Check for salt too.
The flavours get soaked up better this way and it helps the rice to break down into mush easily.
When the rice is well cooked and the khichdi reaches the desired consistency, add 1 tbsp of ghee, cover and remove from heat.
It tends to thicken if kept for some time. So if you are not serving immediately, do make sure the consistency is slightly loose ... slightly, not too watery ... when removing form heat.
It will thicken in 10 to 15 minutes.
Also, no onions. Absolutely niramish khichuri.
Serve it steaming hot ... almost 'burn your tongue' hot.
With another big dollop of ghee.
This khichadi can be paired with traditional bhajas/fries like the aloo bhaja, begun bhaja, beguni, or the good old papad. I had some mirgund (poha papad ) ... so fried them, along with some Punjabi masala papad from Lizzat.
Before leaving, he has a light lunch of Khichdi.
I made this prasadwali khichdi for lunch today ... and enjoyed it while watching Jagannath's Bahuda yatra (return journey) on the telly.
May Jagannath's blessings stay with you always!
PS: The Bengali Khichudi / Khichuri is here.