I spent last (this?) summer in Germany on an internship and my survival there was based on a simple policy: grocery shopping only when I completely run out of food. And my little town actually had 3 Indian restaurants. Yes, yes...you heard me right: THREE! And this was such a small town...geez, people do like Indian food. To top that, there were at least FOUR Indian grocery stores that showed up on my Google search. And Germany being what it is, all of them were accessible by bus within 10 mins. I "heart" EU for this reason. Believe me, live in the US in small towns like Columbia and you'll know. I mean, you WILL know the pain.
So I shopped in the range of 250 gm packages of lentils, 1 kg packages of basmati rice, one packet of paratha, one packet of papad...you get the drift, right? And it gave me the amazing freedom to experiment within my limited budgetary constraints. That's how on the last week of my internship, I ended up with 1/2 cup of moong dal, 1 cup rice, 1/2 an onion, 1 tomato and 2 shrivelled up green chillies forgotten in the corner of the fridge. I was flying back to good ol' 'merica on the following Saturday and I still needed 10 meals...no, 9 meals (my manager treated me to a lunch on the last day) before I had to leave. The only thing that I could think was to make khichdi...but it was too late to call amma for the recipe. Which of course had me feverishly looking up recipes online. I found one which surprisingly did not call for any extra ingredients apart from my sad leftover stash. It was surprisingly good and I remember very clearly that I was chatting with Mai a.k.a Shweth when I was cooking and we chatted about recipes...good times :)
OK...after that really long rant, what follows is a minimal adaptation of the recipe I found online. It's the easiest thing to make...believe me. And I love moong dal, so it's a win-win dish for people like moi.
Rice - 1 cup
Moong dal - 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Oil - 1 tbsp
Jeera - 1 tsp
Hing - 1/2 tsp
Green chillies - 2, finely chopped
Onion - 1, medium sized
Tomato - 1, medium sized
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Garlic - 2 cloves
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1/4 tsp (optional)
Coriander leaves (chopped) - 1/2 tsp
Water - 3 cups
Salt - to taste
1. Mix the rice and moong dal. Wash at least 3 times and set aside. You can also soak it for a little while, if needed.
2. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker and splutter the jeera. Add the chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies. Fry for 30 secs. Then add the chopped onions and fry until transparent and pink.
3. Add the asafoetida and fry for 10 secs. Now add the tomatoes and all the masalas and fry for about 5 minutes until oil separates.
4. Now add the washed rice and moong dal, 3 cups water and salt to taste. Cover and cook for 3 whistles and then set on low for another 15 minutes.
5. After the pressure has released, open the cooker and add water and salt if needed. The consistency must be slightly liquidy. Garnish with the coriander leaves and serve with plain raitha, papad and pickle.