“Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.” Norman Kolpas
Nestled in Himalayas is Beautiful, Beautiful Kashmir. The place I was born and grew up in. The cuisine of the land is known for its masterfully cooked meat dishes and beautifully cooked vegetables. What it is not known for is its lentil dishes. There are some, but they are few and far in between. And Khichdi is one of them.
The Kashmiris call their Khichdi – “khechir” and it is made with whole mung, rice and choice cuts of lamb. The interesting fact is that it is eaten only once a year on the day of “Khechi Mavas” – or the day of worshipping ancient Demi Gods.
Not that you needed that kind of information, but when I get talking about my home, I get talking.
Speaking of interesting – Imagine my surprise when I first moved away from home and found out that people in rest of India ate Khichdi ALL THE TIME! Ok may be not all the time. But for someone who ate it only once a year, to see people eat khichdi every now and then was amusing.
Thankfully I was introduced to a good ‘no meat’ Khichdi dish early on in my Khichdi exploring days and I was hooked. The Khichdi was the comforting dish for many of my room mates. Since we were not exactly rich and our allowance from home was limited, we could not really make a trip to the nearest restaurant on days we did not feel like eating the cafeteria food. For a nutritious, soul satisfying meal, we would fall back on khichdi.
Buttery lentils, gooey rice, delicious home made ghee and pickles that our moms sent in care packages were some of the things that would comfort us. It was an amusing thought for me to see myself eating a khichdi every now and then, even though it was not the food I grew up eating.
There in lies the power of simple, basic food. The nourishing aspect that makes you feel happy in your belly, the comfort it provides and the nurturing it does to your body. It is no wonder then that many cuisines have a variation of Khichdi in their cuisine.
Tuvar dal Khichdi from Guajarat is an everyday food eaten with some Kadhi, pickles, papad and chutney. Sometimes, It is also served with a spicy buttermilk drink called छाछ. In English that would be probably written as Chaach .. but it wouldn’t mean the same thing as per the dictionary.