Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rice and Beans: Khichdi and Usal

Wet, wet, wet. That sums up the weather in Raleigh right now. The beautiful fall weather from my previous post has given way to lots of cold rain. I actually like rain but its the getting wet part that I dont like. And unfortunately I seem to be rather poor at avoiding getting wet. No matter how grey the skies look and however threatening the forecasts are, I always seem to forget carrying an umbrella around. And if I do carry an umbrella, I leave it in the car boot. Then I reason with myself that there is no point in retrieving it from the boot if its already raining so I dont bother. And the cycle continues. Anyways the end result is when it rains, I am always wet and cold.

What keeps me going on such days is the thought of a comforting, piping hot dinner. And there can't be anything more comforting than Khichdi and Usal. Khichdi is basically rice and lentils cooked together. Usal is sprouts cooked with onions and spices. Both are extremely easy to put together. Usal is normally eaten with rotis but trust me the last thing you want to do after a long day of being cold and wet is to make rotis. And this combination works pretty well too. Depending on which part of India you grew up in, both of these can have several different variations. This one is partly from my Mum's kitchen in Bombay and partly my own adaptation. Enjoy and stay dry.

1/4 cup yellow lentils (tur or moong dal)
3/4 cup rice
7 peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon ghee/clarified butter
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon salt

- Wash the rice and dal together
- Heat ghee in a thick-bottomed pan
- Add cumin seeds and peppercorns
- When they splutter, add the rice and dal
- Add turmeric and salt and mix well
- Add 2 & 1/2 cups of water to the rice and stir well
- Bring to a boil and then cook covered on a low flame till rice is soft

2 cups sprouts
1 red onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 - 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (depending on your prefernce for heat)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons dhania-jeera (coriander-cumin) powder
1 teaspoon sugar
juice of half a lemon

- Heat oil in a pan, add mustard and cumin seeds
- When they splutter add chopped onion
- Cook onion till soft and all the spice powders along with salt and sugar
- Then add the sprouts and mix well
- Add 2 cups of water, bring to a boil.
- Cook covered on a low-med flame till sprouts are cooked

For the sprouts here, you can either make your own sprouts soaking mung/matki beans overnight. Or you can buy readymade sprouts near the salad section of any grocery store.


  1. wow, i am so having khichdi and usal tonight :) i like how you are specific about the peppercorn-7 nos :)

  2. Thanks :) I believe and (so does my mom) that 7 peppercorns are a lucky number!

  3. Hi Radhika

    The khichdi will be tastier with a green chilly -2/3 pieces- thrown in with the cumin seeds.

  4. Thanks Satish! I agree but I didnt have any :)