'Legend' of the humble Khichdi

Khichdi is one dish that can be prepared in different ways. Every region in India has its own unique recipe for Khichdi. Khichdi is best enjoyed with curd, papad, or pickle. These siders just delight the taste buds, and if you add tadka to it, the taste is out of the world. The humble khichdi not only keeps our palate happy but keeps our gut also healthy.

This ordinary dish has a really rich history. In the 16th century, khichdi was the staple diet of almost half of the Indian population.

One can find mentions of Khichdi in the writings of many foreign travellers who travelled to India

In the 15th century, Afanasy Nikitin (a Russian traveler) wrote, in India, khichdi was an important part of the diet for both humans and farm animals. A French merchant mentioned in his writings- he saw Indian soldiers eat khichdi and lick fingers full of ghee after every bite to make it more delicious. After all, ghee is the best source of energy and energy is what a soldier needs the most.

Khichdi was not just preferred by common folks, but kings and emperors also loved the dish. The Royals used to give it their twist to the dish. One can find many historical anecdotes about different recipes the Royals used to like their khichdi. While, The emperor Akbar’s khichdi was prepared with equal amounts of rice, lentils, ghee, and a few spices. The emperor Jahangir used to eat khichdi on the days when he didn’t eat meat. He used to eat a special kind of khichdi, called Lazeezan, which Jahangir himself invented. In this khichdi, he used to add some dry foods along with the spices.

British emperors were no exception, for the royals too had immense love for khichdi. Britishers used to eat khichdi accompanied by boiled eggs, fish, and fried onions.

For vegetarians, there is no better and easier source of proteins than lentils. Based on archaeological remains, it is said that the cultivation of lentils began much earlier than rice. Mung dal soup is also an amazing source of protein and it is the least gas-inducing. Archaeologists in India claim that rice cultivation began in the Ganges river valley. Rice is a probiotic food and hence promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in our gut. 

Ghee originated in India because storing butter for long periods in hot weather was not possible. When the butter is heated until the water evaporates and the milk solids separate away, the product remained has a long shelf life. This clarified butter is called ghee, which is the source of vitamins, antioxidants, and healthy fats.

Historically, the humble khichdi has gone through many transformations, but the light rice with split mung dal makes a place for itself in everyone’s kitchen.

So keep eating bhaat and stay healthy!