This weekend Steve fell ill and I was inspired to make the childhood feel-good dish my Mom made me every time I was sick going back as far as I can remember.
It's a traditional Indian dish called "Kitcherri"--(phonetically spelled). It's one of those dishes that’s part of every Indian family’s tradition, there are variants according to every household and every Indian person will claim that their Mom's is the best. It's a dish you can develop into your own, some people use spice, some use none, some use different lentils, some use yogurt, etc. You get the picture--every Mom's kitcherri is different, so I'm presenting my Mom's recipe which is super simple and very good for any sickness, especially if you've had any type of nausea (flu, etc) because it is extremely gentle on your stomach and is nutritious and soothing. It's also a dish I crave all the time, a comfort food, sort of like an Indian Mac-and-Cheese or Mashed Potatoes or something. I’ve never had porridge, but I imagine it resembles porridge, perhaps not in taste, but in how the dish appears.
Kitcherri is also used to break fasting. The obvious tie between fasting and sickness is that the body has been clearing itself of build-up and toxins and has flushed its system clean. After that arduous work, you want to reward your body with something that is at once nutritious but also easy to digest, to introduce foods back into your digestive track. Kitcherri is basically over-boiled lentils & rice with a little salt and some butter. So use it for sickness, for breaking fast, and on a rainy day.
1 cup Split Red Lentils
*found in the Indian Specialty Isle, they are the only red/coral colored lentil, are usually "split" meaning the sphere of the lentil is split during the processing, this also helps to break down the lentil as you cook it and is better for easy digestion
3/4 cup White Basmati Rice
*white rice is easily over-boiled and easier to break down by the stomach, otherwise I am a brown rice proponent
2 to 4 tablespoons of Butter
*I know it's bad but I used "salted" Butter
1 tsp of Salt
- Rinse the lentils & rice together with clean water 2 to 3 times to remove any surface debris (you will see what I mean)
- Add lentils, rice, tsp of salt & 4 cups of cold water your pot. Stir to distribute evenly & turn heat on high & cover.
- Bring to a boil, add 1 tbspoon of butter. Reduce hear to the bare minimum to keep boil going when covered.
- Let boil for about 15 minutes. Check on the kitcherri--you want it to be soupy, so usually at this point you will add 1 additional cup of water & 1 to 3 more tablspoons of butter. Bring back to boil, reduce heat, cover.
- Let cook for 5 more minutes on low on boil. Check with taste test, it should thoroughly cooked (no "al dente" here) and very easy to eat.
- Remove from heat and let stand covered.
* My family always tops Kitcherri with Plain tart yogurt & salt. The yogurt is usually made by my mother, but since I’m not that ambitious yet, I’ve found a perfect substitute for that tart, plain yogurt with Erivan Yogurt—very highly recommended as an accompaniment to any Indian dish.
* If you have a PHLEGM-RELATED sickness, it is best you skip the yogurt, as diary will only cause you more suffering!
*If you are eating this for PURE PLEASURE this is what I do: Serve in bowl, Add generous amount of yogurt, 5 or so grinds of the pepper grinder, sprinkle of salt, a few pinches of ground cumin, and 1 pinch of cayenne for a little excitement. It is easily over-spiced so I really literally mean, “pinches”.
*Just note that kitcherri probably doesn't taste like anything American. I suppose it is pretty bland, but if you spice it up with a little with yogurt, cumin, etc it can be very tasty! I love it so much I can eat it plain; I think you should just try it and see what you think!