Khichari, kichari, kitchari, khichri, kichri, khichadi, khichdi... no matter how you spell it, khichari, an Indian style stew of pulses and grains, is the most perfect vegetarian food there ever was. Protein, grains and veggies; it's a complete, warming and comforting meal made in a single pot. Here's my non-traditional take on the dish that normally uses mung dal and rice.
French Lentil and Quinoa Khichari with Swiss Chard and Sweet Potatoes (vegan)
- 1 cup of green French lentils (washed and sorted through)
- 1 cup of quinoa
- 3 TB of olive oil
- 1 tsp of cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
- 3 tsp grated ginger
- 2 tsp of cumin powder
- 1 tsp of coriander powder
- 1 tsp of hing (or 1/2 of one onion, diced)
- 3 tsp of curry powder
- 3 tsp of salt (You will probably need to add more, but wait until the stew is done to taste. You can't redo over-salting!)
- 6-8 Swiss chard leaves (washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces, including the stems)
- 1 very large or 3 small sweet potatoes, chopped into bite-sized cubes (If you use organic, they are generally on the small side.)
- 6-8 cups of water (I prefer my khichari on the dry side, if you want it more soupy, then add the 8 cups of water.)
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
- lemon for garnish
- Heat oil in a soup pan and chaunce the spices. Add whole spices first, sauté for a few minutes, add ginger, then add powdered spices. Sauté for a minute, then add potatoes, fry for a few minutes, then add chard, salt and lentils. Sauté for a few minutes then add water. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium for about 15 minutes. Add quinoa and stir. Lower heat and let simmer for 30-40 minutes, partially covered.
- The dish is done when the lentils are very tender, and if you are making a dry khichari, the water is mostly absorbed. (If it gets too dry and start to stick to the bottom of the pan before the lentils are soft, add more water.) Test the saltiness. Add salt, if need be, and pepper.
- You can serve in a variety of ways. It's perfect served alongside a nice hot chapati or eggless naan (Trader Joe's sells a really nice one). I like mine with a scoop of plain yogurt in the middle and topped with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice. You can also serve it with some crunchy bhujia on top. If you are not vegan, a plop of butter in the middle of the bowl is also delicious.