Sunday, January 8, 2017

A New Year, A New You, Clean Up Your Act But Don't Surrender the Taste.

   The holidays have come and gone, lots of feasting and indulging of all sorts. Speaking for myself, I ate a bunch of stuff over the last month that I usually don't indulge in during the rest of the year... but that's what holidays are for. Now it's January 7th. The tree is down, the wreath is gone from above the fireplace, and the front door. The pine cones and pillar candles are put away until next December. It's time to clean up the old dietary act. 

   Being raised in an Italian American household, we managed to prolong this holiday waaaaaay beyond January 1st by celebrating Three Kings Day... aka The Feast of the Epiphany. Now the operative word here is feast, which is what most of us have been doing too much of... so it's a new year and time to tighten our belts and gird our loins. However, our belts are already tight enough thank you very much and so the question is what to eat that is tasty, satisfying, and a whole lot cleaner in the big picture than this stuff....

...and this stuff...

   So turning to the foods of India, there's Kitchari also called Kitcheree. This word translates as "mixture" or "mess" or as it was known in the Old Testament  A Mess of Pottage. Kitcharee is a blend of lentils and rice, cooked together very simply... toss in some vegetables and now it's a party! Except this party is actually good for you. This dish is India's comfort food. Similar dishes are found all over Africa and Asia and the Americas. Called by different names, Congee, Kedgeree, or Chili, they all do the same thing, they're easy to digest and they have the same effect as Chicken Soup for whatever ails you.

   Recipes for kitcheree are found in all sorts of Ayurvedic cookbooks and the idea here is to keep it simple. Of course you don't have to keep it simple and that ls the beauty of this dish. You can add the spices you want and the vegetables you want, or add none at all. It doesn't get any easier than that cookingwise. Here's a simple kitcheree recipe you can have on the table in about 25 minutes. Toss in whatever vegetables or spices you like, just know that this is the starter kit. The basic, take it from here.

Simple Kitcheree

Here's What you Need: 
3 Tbs vegetable oil or ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 cup of Basmati rice
1 cup of moong dal
6 cups of warm water
2 cups of your favorite vegetable 
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cliantro
lemon wedges

Here's What To Do:
Get your spices ready.

Heat the oil in a pot or kadhai.
When the oil is hot and shimmering add in the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and turmeric.

Stir everything around when it starts to get aromatic and the mustard seeds start to pop.

Add in the rice...

...and the dal.

Stir things around for a minute or two to warm up the rice and dal then add in the water.

Add in the salt and the vegetables. I used fresh baby spinach leaves and some of our homegrown butternut squash crop.

Bring everything to a boil and when it does...

...put the lid on the pot, lower the heat to simmer, and let it cook for about 25 minutes.

After 25 minutes, take the lid off, stir things around, and mix in the chopped cilantro.
Dish it up.

Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over it, and you can also drizzle a bit of melted ghee over things if you really want to be bad (hey, why not?) It adds a nice rich buttery flavor to the dish.

As I said before, you can make this just as it is simple and plain and good for what ails you or you can jazz it up a bit with more spices, onions, you name it. You are the boss of this kitcheree. Also since this is the start of the New Year, if you want to get into more Indian Cooking check out our shop at  The Chaunk. 

   Get everything you need to start cooking the Kitcheree recipe above and all sorts of other easy  Indian dishes at home, and if you sign up for our email list right now, you'll get 10% off The Chaunk kit from now until Jan 15th to start your New Years eating adventures off right. Coming up next, eat fresh even in the Winter. Indian recipes for your seasonal menu. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

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