Kitchiri is quintessential Indian comfort food and it is a well know dish all across all of India and beyond. Most families have their own recipes but the basis of the meal is lentils and rice cooked together. The bright yellow buttery dish looks and tastes like sunshine in a bowl. Both my mom and my mom-in –law always serve it with a little bit of spicy tomato chutney to cut through the richness of the rice.
With just a handful of simple ingredients this is an extremely cost effective dish and relatively fuss free but there is no compromise on flavour. As an added bonus this dish is loaded with turmeric which is great for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Let’s get cooking…
The first is the longest step but it’s not really active cooking. Wash and rinse split peas and set it to boil. This will take about an hour but you’re looking for the right consistency rather than an exact time frame which could result in varying cooking times depending on a number of factors. You want the lentils to cook down until extremely soft and reduced to a paste like consistency. There is no way to overcook this so don’t be afraid.
A much faster way to get to the end result is to use a pressure cooker, I have an Instant Pot so this is what I used and all it took was 10 minutes.
Once the lentils are fully cooked you can start to boil the rice. I use a brown basmati which takes slightly longer to cook and does not disintegrate the way white basmati rice does. Cover the rice with a small amount of water and cook until it is half cooked. Most of the water should have evaporated by now also.
Add in the split pea mixture and add a little water to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pot. This now needs to be watched carefully. Turn your heat down to the lowest and cook while stirring frequently and adding in a tablespoon of water at a time so that nothing burns. Continue until your rice is cooked. The consistency should be quite thick but not dry. In a small pan, fry the onion with the spices and chilli until fragrant then add it to the rice and stir thoroughly. Place blobs of butter in and stir to combine. Serve with a tomato chutney.
A warm bowl of the comfort food the Indian culture has to offer
• ½ cup yellow split peas
• 1 cup rice
• ½ onion, thinly sliced
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• 1 dried red chilli (fresh chilli would also work)
• 2 tbsp butter
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Soak split peas for a few hours or overnight
- Boil until soft (I used the Instant Pot to speed this up, it only takes 10 minutes), on the stove it would 1-1 ½ hours
- Cover rice with 1 inch of water, add salt to taste and boil until half cooked, most of the water should cook out by this time also
- Then add the split pea mixture, which should now be a thick paste, to the rice
- Add a little water so that the rice does not stick to the pot
- Turn heat to the lowest setting and cook together, stirring frequently, until the rice is cooked
- In a frying pan braise the onion, chilli and cumin seeds in the oil and butter mixture until fragrant
- Stir this into the rice
- Serve with a spicy tomato chutney*
*Recipe coming soon