Sunday, January 15, 2012

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2am Jet-lag Khichdi

 We arrived back in Brooklyn two days ago.  Even though it was sad leaving the family behind,  it's good to be back home.  The husband says "I'm glad the eating marathon is over!" and the pre-schooler says "Why is the night funny,  mommy?"  That's her way of trying to wrap her little head around the concept of jet-lag.  There's a 13-hour time difference between Malaysia and New York,  so it's basically night for day.  We arrived on Thursday with all these notions of being good about not sleeping during the day.  All that went out the window immediately and hasn't been spoken of again since.  Yesterday we all went down for a nap at 1pm and woke up at midnight.  Hopefully we'll be a little smarter about it today.
 And what of the eating marathon?  Basically,  when any Malaysian goes home for a holiday the main focus is eating (dare I speak for the whole nation?)  So we ate and ate and ate and ate and ate our way from Seremban, my hometown,  all the way up north to Penang and back.  The chowing down did not cease until right before we got on our flight to come home.  Here's a quick glance of what we feasted on:
nasi lemak
Nasi Lemak
Roast Pig
Seremban beef noodles
Seremban Beef Noodles
Curry Laksa

char siew pow pao Malaysian food
Char Siew Pao

banana leaf lunch white rice curry
Banana Leaf Lunch
Prawn Mee
roast pork
Mum's Roast Pork
nasi lemak coconut rice ikan bilis sambal
More Nasi Lemak
Jumbo Prawns
Char Kuey Teow
appam appa Indian bread
Chinese roast pig pork
More Roast Pig
kai lan Chinese vegetables
We snuck in some veggies here & there!
cendol coconut milk palm sugar Malaysian dessert
jumbo prawns shrimp Malaysian food
More Jumbo Prawns
apam balik
Appom Balik
Penang rojak fruit salad
Penang Rojak
taro puff char siew
Deep Fried Taro Puff

steamed whole fish Nyonya-style
Steamed Fish Nyonya-Style
I'll enlighten you all as to what each of those items are in subsequent blog posts.  Let's just say we overdid it with the eating.  Every so slightly.  Ok,  ever so waaaaaay too much.  So, with the combination of all that over-eating and all this jet-lag the question is:  What to do with these wee hours of the morning?  Why, make khichdi of course!!!  WHAT IS THAT,  you ask?!!

Khichdi is a magical combination of basmati rice,  lentils and spices - a soothing Ayurvedic prescription for all digestive woes including eating like a pig for three weeks straight.   A warm, light and restorative recipe for a gentle cleanse,  Khichdi is very nourishing,  easy to digest and assists in eliminating toxins from the system.   
There are as many varieties of Khichdi as there are different lentils, pulses and beans - my version here is based on what I had on hand in the kitchen at 2am this morning when we were all awake with a vengeance.  The basic Ayurvedic version calls for moong beans, but really any lentils that you happen to have on hand will work,  even sprouted green beans if you are unable to get to an Indian grocery. 

Auria's 2am Jet-lag Khichdi
1 tbsp ghee (substitute with butter if ghee is not easily available)
1 tsp whole cumin
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala (optional)
1/4 tsp asafoetida (optional)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 cup chana dal -  washed and soaked for 30 minutes
2 cups Basmati rice - washed
3 cups collard greens - washed and chopped (optional)
2 potatoes - peeled and diced (optional)
Cilantro - 1 cup roughly chopped
5 - 6 cups boiling water
Salt to taste

ghee cumin mustard seeds garam masala
Ghee and spices in pot
dhall dal chana lentilsGently warm the ghee over medium heat.  Add the cumin, mustard,  ground cumin and garam masala.   Saute the spices until just slightly browned,  then add the chana dal before the spices brown too much.   Stir to combine well and add two cups of boiling water, the asafoetida and the turmeric.  Turn the heat down to low and let this simmer gently for 15 minutes. By now your house will smell like an Indian kitchen goddess lives in it.

peeled potato chopped collard greensWhile that's going,  wash the rice and get your veggies ready.  I happened to have collard greens so I used those, but really any vegetables will do.  My favorites are any green leafy veggies,  cauliflower,  pumpkin,  all squashes, cucumber and potatoes.  I added potatoes in this because my little one LOVES potatoes.  Basic Ayurvedic khichdi does not have any vegetables in it.

After fifteen minutes,  add the rice, collards, potatoes, cilantro and salt to taste.  Stir to combine and add more boiling water to cover everything.  Cover the pot and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Occasionally check the pot to make sure there's enough water so the bottom is not sticking and burning - add water if necessary.  Cook until the individual grains are soft.  Some folks like their khichdi cooked to a mush - I don't.   Serve with whole plain yogurt.

Ayurveda prescribes different spices for the different constitutions - this is a kitchen blog so I won't get into all that here but I'm sure you can find that information anywhere on the web.  The basic message of Ayurveda is "Let your food be your medicine" and this will definitely be good for us over the next week to recover from our wonderful eating holiday in Malaysia.
A note on cooking times and different lentils - the smaller the dal,  the less time it requires for cooking.  Chana dal is pretty big,  which is why I give it fifteen minutes of cooking time before I add the rice.  If I don't do that,  the rice will be overcooked and mushy and the chana dal might still not be fully cooked.  If you happen to use smaller lentils,  such as the red (orange or pink) masoor dal,  there is no need to soak them and you can add the dal,  rice and veggies all at the same time.  

More yummy Malaysian recipes to come.  Perhaps those chilli crabs next?  Happy New Year everyone!! Pin It


  1. I made this! Yum! YUM! I used swiss chard, mushrooms and zuccinni and red lentils. I put the red lentils in at the same time as the rice and it still came out mushy. Next time I will use heartier lentils or put them in later. Thank you for the recipe!!

    1. Dear May,

      I'm wondering if perhaps the recipe is unclear about the amount of water to use. Use only enough to cover the rice and lentils and veggies - you don't need to use all 5 -6 cups.
      Swiss chard and mushrooms - yum!
      Happy Cooking!

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