Kichadi is an East Indian comfort food that features rice and lentils (or often split peas), and a variety of spices and vegetables. The combination of herbs and spices will fill your kitchen with a wonderful fragrance, and reward your tongue with spiciness that isn’t overly hot. This hearty dish is not short on ingredients, so please see Notes below for time-saving variations.
3½ cups water
¾ cup dry brown basmati rice
¾ cup dry red lentils (see notes)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom seed
⅛ teaspoon ground clove
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (10 ounces/2 cups chopped)
½ tablespoon minced garlic (2 large cloves)
1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
3 cups water
1 medium Yukon gold potato, diced into small cubes (8 ounces, about 1-1/4 cups)
1 medium yam, diced into small cubes (8 ounces, about 1-1/2 cups)
2 large ribs celery, diced (about 1 cup)
1¼ cup green peas (thaw first if frozen)
4 cups roughly chopped curly kale (about 3 large leaves)
2 tablespoons walnuts to grate on top (optional)
1. In a large soup pot, stir together the water, rice, lentils, and spices (cumin, coriander, red pepper, turmeric, cardamom, clove). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 45 minutes. While the rice and lentils are cooking, chop and prepare the remaining ingredients.
2. About 15 minutes before the rice and lentils are done cooking, place a large skillet or saucepan on high heat with 2 tablespoons of water. Once the water starts sizzling, add the chopped onion and sauté for 3 minutes (adding water as needed to prevent sticking). Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté for another 2 minutes, taking care not to burn the garlic, adding water as needed.
3. Add to the onions, garlic and ginger: 3 cups water, potatoes, yams, and celery, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook covered for 7 minutes. Stir in the peas and kale and cook an additional 3 minutes (still covered). (The potatoes should now be tender.)
4. Add the onion-potato mixture to the pot of rice and lentils and stir well. Serve immediately as is or with a dusting of grated walnuts on top.
Preparation: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves: 6 (makes 9 cups)
Red lentils: While they are called “red” lentils, they can actually be a variety of colors, from gold to orange to rosy red. They can be found in most healthy groceries as well as Middle Eastern markets labeled as masoor (red lentils).
Curry substitution: If you don’t want to bother with the individual dried herbs and spices (cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, turmeric, cardamom, clove), you may replace them with 2 to 3 teaspoons of your favorite curry powder. But while curry powder does a fine job, it doesn’t really compare to using the individual herbs and spices, which result in an exotic range of flavors and aromas.
Simplify: If you’re not in the chopping mood, you can also make a meal of just the lentils, rice, and herbs and spices after cooking them all together in step 1.
More heat: To add a little more heat, add a half to one teaspoon more red pepper flakes.
Above: This recipe makes a lot of food, perfect for leftovers, potlucks, or a special family meal.
Above: To garnish with walnuts (or any type of nut), use a rotary cheese grater.
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This recipe was updated on August 2, 2013 (click here to view original).