Kichari - The All Purpose - Totally Delicious - "Poor Man's Feast Fit For The King"

How to make kichari according to ekendra das (reposted for reference):

read these directions all the way through before atempting. you can use the 'printer friendly version' link at the bottom.

1.) get a big pot and fill it half way with water. put it on the stove and turn up the heat high
2.) open the fridge and see what veggies are about to go off.
3.) take them out of the fridge and put them on the counter.
4.) wash them off and chop them up.
5.) find some DAHL - nearly any kind will do but be aware of cooking times. toor takes forever. urid is a bit strange (IMHO) i think the best is whole mung dahl but split mung is good too.
5.) if you got split mung dahl or channa dahl put a few handfuls into a new dry pot with a thick bottom and turn the heat to medium while stirring. this way you can 'toast' the dahl a bit before washing and cooking. this makes it taste really good
6.) other dahl you can skip the last step
7.) wash off the dahl and remove any bits that look like rocks as you'll ruin your teeth if you crunch on them. they don't cook down.
8.) now chuck your dahl into your pot of hopefully boiling water. give it a good stir at first so it doesn't stick to the bottom. when it gets boiling again you can focus on the veggie chopping and let it do its thing. still check it occasionally so that nothing sticks to the bottom.
9.) chop up your veggies. potatoes are pretty stodgy in kichari but some people like them a lot. pumpkins bits are good but if they are too sweet i think it makes it taste wierd. most people like cauliflower (i dont) and pretty much whatever you find in the fridge can go in. the good thing about making kichari regularly is that you don't waste any veg. we buy organic a lot of times which means a lot of wasted cash which i can't live with so we love kichari :)
10.) don't put your veggies straight in. you gotta time this out according to what kinda veggie it is and what the cooking times are. if you put potatoes in that are cut in big pieces you'd obviously need a longer cooking time so put them in earlier. capsicums and spinach cooks quick so save it till the last minute. tomatoes are somewhere in between.
11.) speaking of tomatoes. if you have them around then chop them up too and keep aside. we will use this for the spicing. i take the skin off by blanching or quick boiling them in a seperate pot.
12.) now we will do the spicing. (says the great chef Laughing ) you need a bit of mustard seeds, lots of cumin, chopped ginger, chilies, asefetida (hing), and tumeric
13.) put a bit of ghee in a smaller pot on the stove on low heat.
14.) throw in the mustard seeds and put a lid on so they don't pop all over your stove.
15.) once the mustard seeds have slowed popping then move the pot to the side and off the direct flame.
16.) throw the ginger in which cools down the ghee a bit.
17.) stir it around and put the pot back on the heat when it seems to stop 'frying' the ginger.
18.) add the cumin. i use heaps
19.) let the cumin warm up a while . (some folks like to roast the cumin seeds seperately on high heat and then grind in a pistal and mortar which is an amazing taste but when powdered you save it until last with the tumeric.)
20.) add the chilies
21.) then add the asefitida powder while stirring
22.) then the tumeric and keep stirring so it doesn't burn. the whole spicing episode should only take a few minutes.
23.) immediately after stirring the turmeric a second then put all the chopped tomatoes in. if you don't have the tomatoes then skip the next step.
24.) stir the spice mixture in with the tomatoes and turn the heat right up to high. keep a close eye on this pot so it doesn't go black on the bottom. a little black around the edges and rim of the pot is ok but never on the bottom. after the tomatoes are cooked down (5 minutes or so) ....
25.) turn the heat off on the spice pot and let it wait until we need it (nearly the last thing we add to the big pot)
26.) hows the dahl going? is it broken up into a soupy broth? the whole mung takes forever to break up like this so as long as its soft i'd go ahead. other dahls are more cooperative but whole mung is supposed to be the healthiest i've heard.
27.) once the dahl is broken up then add as much rice as you'd like. you should at least add enough to absorb the rest of the water in the pot but add more water if you need to keeping in mind that rice expands and could overflow the pot if you put too much in. about equal portions of dahl and rice is normal but nothing is written in stone. i like basmati rice or jasmine but there are less expensive ones if you are on a tight budget. short grained rice is NOT the best for kichari.
28.) Surprised Now you gotta pay attention or the whole thing will be ruined. Surprised once the rice is in then its all hands on deck. you can't space out at all or the rice will stick to the bottom of the pot and put an unusual burnt taste in your beautiful kichari. keep it almost constantly stirring on low/med heat.
29.) you can add your spices at any time now and whatever lighter veggies are left over (spinach and anything else that cooks quickly)
30.) stir in the spices and just make sure it doesn't start to get sticky on the bottom of the pot. if you feel it sticking then try to scrape it with your stirring utensil until the bottom is smooth again. if its gone past that point then quickly pour it into a new pot as you will not salvage the kichari if you continue to cook it once it sticks tough to the bottom. if you don't have another pot then put it into anything .. and ice cream tub whatever and then wash the pot thoroughly and try again.
31.) once the rice is a bit mushy and overcooked, turn off the heat, add a bit of salt and either keep stirring for a minute until there is no danger of sticking or tranfer to another container.
32.) put a bit of yoghurt in a bowl along side the kichari and offer the whole preparation to Gopala and His Brother. If you need to you can print out this picture and either laminate it or put it in a nice frame. Laptop wallpaper will do in a pinch.
33.) when They are done then ENNNNNNJOY !!!!

I've purposefully been vague here about the measurements and proportions as kichari need not follow an exact recipie to be good. if you don't have much experience cooking say even rice or something then mabye have a friend who cooks help you at first. at least do a Google image search to see how its supposed to look when done. you'll get the hang of it after a few tries and will naturally develop your own preferences how to cook it. its a very convenient and satisfying preparation that can be eaten all year round with whatever produce is in season. you can even make it without veggies.

what i do when i know my wife will be away for a while or is sick or something and i have to do the cooking.... i cook a big pot of kichari and put most of it into containers in the freezer . it keeps frozen for weeks. when i don't have time to cook or can't be bothered i just pull out an ice cream tub of kichari and heat it up in a pot. (not a microwave!!!! Tongue out yuck!) of course its best fresh cooked but when you don't want to cook its sure beats junk food.

ahhh kichari .... ' a poor man's feast fit for a king'