Julia Child in Delhi – Author Pushpesh Pant Makes His Cool Mutton Khichri, Gurgaon
The great chef’s life in Delhi.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Nobody dares to offers khichri to guests. This rice-and-dal combination is best eaten in complete privacy, as comfort food, or when one is suffering from an upset stomach.
But Pushpesh Pant is making this dish in The Delhi Walla‘s honour this afternoon. I’m at his home in Gurgaon. The author of not less than 20 food books, including the voluminous classic India: The Cookbook, Mr Pant is bent upon turning this Plain Jane into the princess she deserves to be — his words!
Between sips of red wine, he holds forth on khichri’s greatness, declaring it to be India’s true national dish. His informed reasoning swings from stories from the Vedas to anecdotes about Mughal kings. I, however, get interested in khichri only when he declares that this dish lets the cook get away with a lot of accidental mistakes and misjudgments without anybody on the table really noticing them.
Mr Pant is preparing a Hyderabadi style arhar dal khichri with mutton keema that he has transformed with the addition of spices and potatoes. He has also borrowed elements of Bengali bhuni khichuri.
In other words, this is purely Pushpesh Pant’s khichri.
Rice: 1 cup
Arhar Daal: 1/2 cup
Minced Mutton: 300g
Onion (Large peeled sliced): 1
Garlic: 3-4 cloves
Ginger: 2-inch piece scraped and chopped
Bay leaf: 1
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Brown cardamon: 1-2
Cinnamon: 1-inch piece
Peppercorn: 1/2 tsp
Peepli: 1 piece
Mace: few strands
Potato (medium sized peeled and quartered): 1
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Red chilly powder: 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Green chilly (deseeded): 1-2
Ghee/oil: 1/3 cup
Salt to taste
Soak the rice and dal separately in water for 20 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
Heat oil/ghee in a pan and put in the whole spices. When these begin to change colour, add the minced meat. Stir fry on medium-high flame till brown. Now add onions, garlic and fry some more till onions are translucent. Put in the rice and dal along with red chilly powder and salt. Don’t forget the ginger and green chillies! Stir fry for a couple of minutes gently then put in the potatoes and pour in three cups of hot water. Stir.
Cook covered till water is absorbed. Sprinkle a little water if required and check if the rice and dal are done. (If a mushy khichri is preferred add another 1/2 cup of water).
The making of Pushpesh Pant’s khichri