Have you heard of -
‘Apni khichdi alag pakana’ which means do your own thing and
‘Kya khichdi pak rahi hai’ which is used when someone is gossipping.
Khichdi is such a popular dish throughout India that we even have idioms based on that.
When we fell sick or had a sensitive stomach, mom used to make this thin khichdi which is mildly spiced, hot steaming khichdi with a dollop of ghee over it, mesmerising aroma and taste!
The term Khichdi comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Khiccha’, meaning a dish of rice and legumes. Largely, Khichdi is made from rice and lentils, but there are some other regional variations with respect to spices and vegetables added.
There are so many stories on the origin of this dish. Khichdi is described in the writings of Afanasiy Nikitin, a Russian adventurer who travelled to the Indian subcontinent in the 15th century. It was very popular with the Mughals, especially Jahangir.
Although Khichdi is made any time of the year since it is a light and easily digestible meal, it is during the January month, when the sun enters the zodiac sign of Capricorn or Makar, that this dish is prepared in all parts of India.
Makar Sankranti is called by various names throughout India. It is known as Maghi in North India, Sukarat in central India, Magh Bihu in Assam, and Pongal in Tamil Nadu. Many other Indian states also call it Makar Sankranti.
According to Ayurveda,
Khichdi is excellent for detoxification and de-aging of the cells. This complete food is easy to digest and gives strength and vitality. It nourishes all the tissues of the body. Kitchari is the preferred food to use while going through cleansing programs such as panchakarma. Khichdi is one of the most healing meals in Ayurveda because it is tri-doshic. It balances all the three doshas - Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
During Makar Sankranti, as the sun is transitioning from Saggitarius to Capricorn, the cold is slowly subsiding. The change of season can make our digestive system more vulnerable to infection/gastritis. Hence it is during this season, Khichdi/Pongal is eaten to calm the digestion and at the same time provide good nutrients to sustain.
Khichdi is made with the combination of rice and moong dal. Rice is deficient in lysine while dal is deficient in methionine and tryptophan. Hence a combination of these two gives most of the essential amino acids that the body requires.
Also spices like cumin seeds, turmeric, ginger, black pepper are added which are anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, aids in digestion and prevents bloating and acidity.
The tadka is done with ghee in the end, ghee not only enhances the taste but it also brings down the glycemic load of the dish and makes it ideal for a diabetic to consume.
With people becoming more and more health conscious, our humble khichi has seen many variations. Healthful khichi made with millets/oats/quinoa have come into the picture and caters to people who want to lose weight, are diabetic or those who simply are looking to try something different!
No matter in what way you decide to eat your khichdi, remember, ‘Apni khichdi alag pakana’!!!