Experiments are the mothers of discoveries; at times they are either outrageous or trend-setters. My experiments with spices and raw vegetables on Fridays have been the later.
My Friday cuisine trend-setter is called Khi-lao (a unique blend of Khichuri and Pulao). For the uninitiated ones, Khichuri is a mixture of pulses and rice cooked in slow flame or in pressure cooker. Pulao is also rice sans pulses and made with crushed cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, and often with a few chopped vegetables (like peas, beans, carrots).
Somewhat belonging to the family of other rice items like Kabsa, Khosari and Risotto, my Khi-lao blends every spices and an array of vegetables. Unlike the others where only rice, dal and meat is used, my discovery blends every style thus making the cuisine colourful with an excellent taste and aroma.
Making a khichuri is easy where one simply needs to use rice and pulses with some spices as add-ons. However the bachelor’s recipe Khi-lao is a unique blend of khichuri and polou.
After washing the vegetables, chop them into pieces. I love colours and hence I add an array of vegetables including tomatoes, onions, chillies (green and red), capsicum, ginger, garlic, and spinach. First one must fry the rice and dal nicely in a little oil. I prefer Basmati rice and red masoor dal. The initial fry for about 10 minutes on light flame gives out a sweet aroma. Then one needs to fry onion and garlic with bay leaves, and as they turn golden yellow, add the chopped vegetables. To make it rich and nutritious, I add various nuts and raisins, too.
The next step is to add spices, and I have discovered that if I mix my preferred spices including turmeric, red chilli, coriander powder, sugar and little zaatar with rose water, it adds to the taste. The next steps need patience and strong wrists where the mixture of vegetables, rice-dal, spices need to be continuously stirred. No need to add oil and the fire must be slow. At times, a little water needs to be added to mix it smooth. These above steps will take almost 30 minutes.
Then put this mixture in a pressure cooker and add water, such that the level of the water is a little above the rice. Cook for at least three whistles. I wait for sometime till the steam infuses into the rice, and as I open the lid after 15 minutes, I immediately add ghee, thus giving a desi flavour. It not only helps in taste and smell but also it is good for the health. If one is not comfortable with ghee, butter can also be used. One needs to be bold and not worried about calories. Oh yes, ghee doesn’t increase weight – lack of exercise and junk food does.
At times the whistle calculation might go wrong, as it has happened to me on many occasions, but it is nothing to be upset about. The distinct rice will not be visible with over cooking, but the taste is similar. Be careful to have enough water so the bottom is not burnt.
To add more variety to the dish, I add two scrambled eggs on the top along with some topping of chopped coriander. If I am in no mood for eggs, I fry paneer and add it, and bingo…..Khi-lao is ready to be served. The cuisine, though meant exclusively for powerul dynamic singles can also impress couples, senior citizens, and children. The food makes one feel rejuvenated, energetic, and learn more from life. So next weekend, shut your WiFi, and devote your efforts for some