Khitchari: Meenakshi Mohan

Meenakshi Mohan

Saturday morning,

I woke up.

Newly married in a new foreign land.

Breakfast was simple.

But what to cook for lunch?

I wanted to impress my husband

by cooking our traditional Saturday lunch

from back home --


with its various condiments

Alu Bharta, papad, raita, achar and tillori

Khitchari sounded so easy

for a novice with no cooking experience.

I had seen my Dadi making it so many times.

I can do it, I thought --

mix daal and rice,

some turmeric and salt,

potatoes and peas --

easiest of all the recipes.


I boiled potatoes to make alu bharta.

I chopped onion with tears flowing through my eyes,

constantly washing hands

and wiping my eyes with

 my apron.


Finally, I had it all ready

¼ cup moong daal

¾ cup basmati rice

both washed and cleaned.

I cut up potatoes into small pieces,

and washed a cup of frozen peas








Then came, my husband in the kitchen.

Always ready with his advice and help --

What are you doing?

Let’s go out.

Such a nice day!

We can eat out.


No! We have been eating out almost every day.

I was all set to try out

this special, traditional lunch.

I could almost see my Dadi in the kitchen

back home in India,

and how we all relished

the freshly made Khitchari with its added accompaniments.


Ok, let’s put it all in the pressure cooker,

said my husband, trying to get it done quickly.

So, rice, daal, and all the ingredients went into the pressure cooker.

After a few whistles,

my impatient husband

took the pressure controller cap off


And then --

stunned! We stood there

watching the flying daal, rice, potatoes, and peas

zooming like a volcano through the narrow pressure hole to the ceiling.

After the pressure was off, we looked up --

our kitchen ceiling was an abstract painting

Van Gogh would have liked

the white canvas of the ceiling, all painted in yellow, white, and green.

Daal, rice, potatoes, and peas

studded there like stars in the sky

peering at us.


Note:             Khitchari, a traditional Indian dish, a mixture of ingredients, mainly

                        rice, and lentils. It is cooked in most states in India. It

                        is usually a traditional Saturday lunch in some parts of India.

                        Bharata, mashed potatoes

                        Papad, thin, crisp wafer

                        Achar, pickle

Tillori is made with sesame seeds and fried to crispness. A traditional dish of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in India.

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