What is it about a concoction of meat (read animal protein)-veggies-rice-spices that has made it so popular across all nations and all races and every single culinary culture you can think of?
I mean take any ..anyyyy culture and you find a speciality dish with that lethal combination. The ones that springs to my mind are Biriyani, Paella, Rissoto, Ratatouli, fried rice...I am pretty sure these are only a fraction of the varaity that exists out there!
So what makes this concoction so lethal? I really want to know from you all.
But let me start by telling you what I think makes it so popular. Its a square meal, a comfort meal and a round meal-- at the same time :). Not many can boast of this. Its has carbs, proteins, fats, aromas and crunches going in altogther and it appeals to every single flavor sensation we have up there. There are a million ways to jazz it up. You can make it into a fancy entree or get a TV dinner out of it, break or make a routine with it. You can put your own signature in it or you can take all the recipes out there and go with tradition. Its a crowd pleaser to say the least -- from the experimental foodie to the stoich foodie. I mean the possibilities are endless.
But most importantly, there is someting solid, something hearty, something comforting about the look of such a concotion. I lack the vocab here...but best to say, I think it appeals to something basic in human palate and senses. NOt just of the flavors or the aroma. But about the appeance and texture too. HOw good is it to come home to a big pot of comfort food? And that is one reason why this concotion, I think, has found its way into every culture without any overlap or even influence from each. Hey, we are talking about dishes that go back before the world was connected.
So yes ....while I wait for your answers on this and also names of such concotions which some of us may not be familiar with...
I would like to add another name to that list above. Its called Khichuri. Essentially like Risooto but without cheese. In our family we always had it the vegetarian way. On a rainy day, on a lazy day, on a festive day. We always had it. But there are at least a hundered books each with at least 200 recipes of how to do this. So the math, comes down to a recipe per household...well I am sure...:) So seems that in this concotion you can put in your signature stamp and contribute to this big body of goodness across the world and yet retain a tiny footprint, which is simply your's and will forever be yours. Not many dishes can boast of such a tolerance level.
With that said...let me show you my take on this concotion.Khichuri. But then what's in a name?
1 cup of veggies. I like to use peas and carrots.
1 big potato. Cut into big chunks
1 medium onion. Cut it 4 big squares
2 tomatoes. Cubed
1 Jalapeno. Seeded and coarsely sliced
3/4th cup of rice. Basmati is good. But any varaity will do
3/4th cup of lentil. Red is what I use. Easy to cook
1 tsp of garlic
1 tsp of grated ginger
1 tsp of whole cumin
1 tsp of whole coriander seed
1 tsp of whole mustard.
3 cups of hot water
2 tbsf oil
1 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp pf ground coriander
1/4 tsp of turmeric
A pinch of cayenne pepper
Cilantro and lemon for garnish
In a very deep pot. A pot whose end you can't see :)
Anyways get your oil heated in that. Once hot add the potatoes and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the whole cumin, coriander, mustard, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, onion and veggies and saute till the fragrance starts to make you go insane! Add the rice and lentisl. Mix everything very well together. Add water and mix up everything. Add the tomatoes and the spice mixture.Stir in everything. And cover and cook for 15 minutes. CHECK frequently to make sure you have enough water and things are not really stuck to the bottom or is getting burnt up. When rice is done, season with salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro.
Add lemon and serve with some fried fish, or eggs or even grilled veggies are a good option!
And that's my take on Khichuri--with garlic and mustard seed. But then we can all leave our footprints in the rice of times :)
Happy eating and healthy livnig!