Bhog-er Khichuri doesn’t require any introduction to Bongs and to some non-bongs too, who have been to Durgapuja but for those who are not familiar with this, here is an quick intro for them: "Bhog" is what we offer (food) to God during the puja and then after the puja is done, its distributed among the devotees as prasad. "Khichuri" or "Khichiri" is rice and lentils cooked together with or without veg. As lame as the description sounds the dish is actually taste out of the world especially if you wait in a queue for hours on a puja pandel just to get a ladle full of this magical stuff! Some how the food that is cooked for the puja always tastes better than if you cook it for regular day consume! I don’t know how but ask any one who has tried both the version and I am sure they will agree with me.
I am not very religious but definitely a big foodie. I would always wait for the puja to end so that I can get my hands on the delicious prasad! Recently, one of my friend mentioned that Navratri is gong on. She asked me if we make Bhog er Khichuri now? Although I wasn't sure what is the answer to her question, I told her, "I can always make it, no matter what!" Few hours later I ended up with this hundy full of that delicious Khicuri.
Serves 4 (at least)
3/4th cup of Mung dal (dry roasted and then washed and drained )
3/4th cup of short grain white rice (I used sona masori, washed and soaked in water for 30 minutes)
10-12 florets of cauliflower (washed and drained)
2 medium size potatoes (pealed and quartered)
hand full of frozen peas
Oil (as required)
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
1-2 bay leaves
2-3 green cardamoms
1 cinnamon stick (2-3 inch long)
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
2-3 whole dried red chilli
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala powder (optional)
1 tsp ghee or butter per head to serve (on plate)
I begun with dry roasting the mung dal in a pan on medium heat. Keep your eyes on the pan while the dal is roasting because its very easy to burn it and then your dish is spoiled! It takes hardly 5 minutes and you will know when its done as you will get the light aroma from the dal and you will see some of the grains turning light brown in colour. Take the pan off the heat and pour the dal in a separate container. You don’t want it to burn or over roast in any case.
Take a deep and thick bottomed pan, place it on the hob and turn the heat on! Heat some oil in it and the add the veg with little turmeric and salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium to high flame but make sure it doesn’t burn. remove from the heat and keep it separate. Now in the same pan add some more oil and the whole masalas. after about 30 sec or so add the washed dry roasted mung dal and stir. Now add 2 cups of recently boiled water, rest of the turmeric, salt and ground masalas. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes on a medium flame.
Add the veg now along with the rice and stir well. Check the water level and add more if required. At this point it will look very watery because of the obvious reason but don’t worry ii will be fixed at the end. Stir well, cover and cook for next 20-30 minutes or till everything is cooked. Keep stirring as it should not burn from the bottom hence adjust the heat as well from time to time, if required. Add water as required for the cooking and the desired consistency of the khichuri but if you feel you need to reduce the water, then just leave the cover open while you cook, but do this only towards the end of cooking. Serve hot topped with a knob of butter or a teaspoon full of desi-ghee and a side of fried discs of eggplant, we call it "begun bhaja"! Ah!