Khichadi (Indian Rice and Lentils) & Birbal
For this month’s ‘Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free’, Zoe from Z’s Cup of Tea set the theme to be ‘Fictional Food – Treats and Dishes from Children’s Stories’.
When I read the story, I really thought I would end up making ‘Curds and Whey’ from the children’s poetry ‘Little Miss Muffet’. But as I thought about the stories I really read a lot of when I was very little.. Miss Muffet was really not it. In fact I think I didn’t know of Miss Muffet until I was in my pre-teens. I think it was when I was reading books to my younger brother!
I decided to put a little more thought into this idea.
When I was very young I used to read (and be read to) the short stories of Akbar and Birbal. Although the stories are fictional, they are based on historic personalities. Akbar is a Mughal Emperor who ruled over the Mughal Empire in India during the 1500s. Birbal was the Grand Vizier of the Mughal court.
Generally every story with these “dynamic duo” followed the format of Akbar posing a question of morality or a brain teaser of sorts and Birbal devised a clever way to respond. In one of the stories Akbar asks if a man would do anything for money. Birbal responds ‘Yes’. To prove this, Birbal finds a poor man who needed money and brings him to the court of the Emperor. Akbar makes a deal with the man that in exchange for some large amounts of money, the man would have to spend the entire night in a frozen pond. The man did it! And the next day he shows up to the court to get his reward. When Akbar asked the poor man how he managed to do it he said that he saw a faint light about a few miles away and that helped him withstand the cold. Akbar decided that that was cheating. That somehow the man was getting heat from the light that was a few miles away. Birbal then has the Emperor over for dinner to eat Khichadi. After waiting for hours for the food to be served, Akbar finally got so hungry that he went into the kitchen to check out the how far along dinner had been prepared. To his surprise he saw that the Birbal had put the pot of khichadi about one meter above the fire from the stove. He thought this was ludicrous and told Birbal that. To which Birbal responded — if a poor man can get heat from a faint light a few miles away, surely this khichadi will get enough heat from merely a meter away. Akbar knew he had made a mistake and immediately rewarded the poor man.
You can read a more complete version of the story here.
So, for this month’s ‘Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free’, I decided that I’d make Khichadi. It’s quite an easy dish – perfect for when you don’t feel like cooking an elaborate meal.
Makes: 2 servings
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour 10 minutes
- 1/2 cup lentil – tur dal or moong dal
- 1/2 cup rice (white or brown.. typically white, I used brown)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi)
- water to cook lentils and rice (I used 3 cups)
- salt to taste (I used about 2 – 3 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon ghee (clarified butter)
2. Drain the mixture. Add as much water as needed to cook the mixture. Add turmeric powder and salt. Cook in the pressure cooker according to the instructions of your cooker. For me – I cooked it for 15 – 18 minutes after the first whistle. Serve hot with ghee! Yum.