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Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine  and Ayurvedic specialist Claudia Welch, in her excellent book Balance Your Hormones, Balance your Life, says that when we are experiencing times of stress, we should eat foods that are nourishing to our body and our nervous system i.e. foods that are also easy to digest.  Simple eastern wisdom that makes a lot of sense for our busy lives.

I’ve had to deal with a little more busy-ness than usual over the past few days with trying to make time for social commitments and work; baby ananda has had a cold; and I’ve been writing past a deadline and more.  I’ve definitely been craving simple food and Khichadi, a staple rice and lentil dish from India is one of my favorites.  It is delicious and nutritious and detoxifying, yet with the creamy consistency that emerges when you simmer rice and lentils together, is wonderful when you want some comfort food. An added benefit, it’s a perfect food for babies as well.

I made this khichadi for lunch yesterday in about ten minutes with a pressure cooker. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, it will cook in about 20 to 25 minutes in a heavy bottomed pot.  Do not be intimidated by the “tempering” which simply means adding spices to hot ghee (or oil) to release their aroma and flavor in the dish. The recipe is adapted from Sukham Ayu, Cooking at Home with Ayurvedic Insights, a cookbook that I purchased at KARE, an ayurvedic centre in India a few years ago.  I love this book as the recipes (you will see) are easy, delicious and above all balancing.  I wish I had taken a picture of the dish as I served it (the one above is from a great blog I found on indian vegetarian food.  The turmeric makes the rice creamy yellow and a garnish of cilantro adds a lovely bright green.  Turmeric by the way is excellent as an anti-inflammatory and immune booster.  Use it often.  See my turmeric and ginger tea recipe here.

Enjoy! And if you have any favorite khichadi recipes you’d like to share, please send them to me!

Ingredients:1/2 cup Split green gram (use split moong dal here, it is green and white in color – you can purchase it at most Indian grocery stores and if you don’t have moong dal substitute with the organic red lentils you can buy at most health food stores)
1/2 cup Basmati Rice (note, you can soak the rice and lentil mixture for a half hour before you begin cooking in cool, filtered water, which assists both with the digestibility of the grains as well as shortens the cooking time)
1/2 inch piece ginger, grated
2 tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped
Himalayan sea salt, to taste

The tempering.
2 tsp Cow’s ghee (preferably organic)
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
4 -5 whole Peppercorns
1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
a pinch of asafetida powder (optional)

Method:

1. Wash the rice and dal together.
2. In either a pressure cooker or the pot you will use to slow cook the khichadi, heat the ghee, add the cumin and the peppercorns.  As they begin to crackle, add the turmeric and the asafetida. As soon as you see the spices release their aroma, (the ghee will be spluttering by now), add the rice and dal mixture and quickly toss into the tempering.
3. Add 4 cups of warm water along with the ginger, cilantro leaves and salt.  If you use a pressure cooker, the khichadi will cook in 3 or 4 minutes, if you are cooking it in a pot on the stove, allow the khichadi to come to a boil then simmer with the lid closed for at least fifteen to twenty minutes, perhaps a little longer.  You want the rice and the lentils cooked to a soft, soupy consistency.
4. Garnish with additional cilantro leaves and serve as a light, savory meal.

Ps. A nice variation to make this more of a hearty one-dish meal is to add in some chopped vegetables like zucchini, carrots, yams, green beans or cauliflower along with the rice.

For another khichadi recipe with different spices, click here.

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