Dilli Diaries: Khichdi’s Journey From Comfort Food To The Face Of Indian Cuisine
On 4th November, 2017, the Indian National capital – along with leading food experts and entrepreneurs from all over India – will stand witness to the crowning of the humble khichdi as “Brand India Cuisine” at World Food India. But how did this happen? How dis the rice and lentil mash-up go from being our Saturday staple to the face of Indian cuisine? Let’s have a quick look at the khichdi’s journey from the desi kitchen to the world.
The Quintessential Comfort Food
Khichdi is a comfort food not only in the Indian subcontinent or its neighbouring nations; the preparation is consumed heartily in homes far and wide albeit with regional and cultural tweaks. This simple, wholesome, and versatile recipe has inspired various preparations like the Anglo-Indian kedgeree, which is a dish consisting of cooked, flaked fish (traditionally smoked haddock), boiled rice, parsley, hard-boiled eggs, curry powder, butter or cream and occasionally sultanas. It also gave way to the Egyptian Kushari.
According to the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta’s account of his stay in India curca 1350, kishri was a dish in India composed of rice and mung beans. Khichdi was also very popular with the Mughals, especially Jahangir. Ain-i-Akbari, a 16th-century document, written by Mughal Emperor, Akbar’s vizier, Abu’l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, mentions the recipe for khichdi, which gives seven variations. People familiar with Akbar-Birbal tale would also be familiar with the popular anecdotal story featuring the king, his minister, and the dish.
An International Delicacy
Over the years, decades, and centuries, the food has gained popularity across India and the world, courtesy of globalization and various Indian origin chefs that have taken the humble preparation global. On a larger, more international scale, khichdi is appreciated as a delicious and wholesome food that is so simple yet so delectable. And why shouldn’t it be? How many more recipes can you cook so quickly, with minimal ingredients, and yet stomach a storm of a meal?
Further, various regional variations – and in general, adaptability – of the khichdi have also contributed to the spotlight that shines on it. For instance, there is a fiery variant for the spice-loving palate; a milder recipe for the comfort food lover; a vegetable-rich version for people looking for a more wholesome meal; a more neo oats khichdi for the calorie conscious; and so on. And thanks to modern day plating techniques, our potful of khichdi has never looked prettier!
The Face Of Indian Food
With the world lauding the brilliance that is this rice-lentil medley, it is only fair that the country of the khichdi’s origin bestowed upon it the much-deserved accolade – Brand Food India.
On the second day of the mega event that is World Food India, which is being hosted in Delhi from 3 to 5 November 2017, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu will unveil the mega khichdi in a big kadhai (vessel) that will cook 800 kilograms of the Indian nosh. As reported earlier, the Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries will further promote the food as India’s “international food” by sending it to various embassies across the Capital.
From where we are looking, the khichdi just went from staple to stylish!