Khichdi recipe made with rice, moong dal & spices is a simple, healthy and hearty Indian meal. This delicious dal khichdi is protein-packed, super comforting and flavorful that you are going to love it. Made under 30 minutes, it is an easy one pot dish and needs only pantry staples. Khichdi can be made in a regular pot, electric rice cooker or any kind of pressure cooker, be it a stove top cooker or an instant pot. This post covers all the details.
Every nation has its own comfort food, loved by a larger population either for the health benefits or for the ease of making. Khichdi is the most popular comfort food for Indians. Mostly because it is vegetarian, filling, inexpensive & more importantly provides all the essential nutrients in one meal.
What is khichdi
Khichdi is a healthy Indian dish made with rice and moong lentils. Various other ingredients like ghee (clarified butter), cumin seeds, ginger and asafoetida are optionally used depending on the preferences.
This simple and humble dish is the first food for babies and people recovering from sickness. So most people refer it to be the food for babies and the sick as it tastes bland.
But a well-made khichdi apart from being wholesome, is very delicious & flavorsome. It can be consumed regularly by normal people as a part of healthy diet.
The name of the dish, ‘khichdi’ is derived from the Sanskrit term “khicca” meaning a dish of rice & legumes. It is known by various names like – khichri, kichuri or kichadi. Moong dal is the most common lentil used, which is the split and skinned version of green gram, aka mung beans.
According to Ayurveda, moong dal is Tridoshic in nature and can balance all the 3 doshas in the body – vata, pitta & kapha. Meaning this lentil is a superfood that can balance any kind of disturbances in the body by naturally detoxifying the whole system.
So khichdi is a staple in ayurvedic and yogic diet. It is highly recommended to people with sluggish digestive system as this helps to cleanse the entire system.
About this recipe
As such khichdi is not native to any regional cuisine and is made in so many different ways. The simplest way to make dal khichdi is to just cook rice & mung dal with salt to a mushy texture. Then top with ghee and serve hot. But that sounds rather too bland.
With this recipe, the basic dish gets a makeover. So it won’t be bland but instead flavorful and tasty. It is light & easily digestible dish that can be enjoyed by the whole family including toddlers. If you have toddlers or young kids at home, minus the chilli in the recipe and make a spicier side dish like pickle or chutney for the grownups.
The recipe shared here is a generic one that is suitable to everyone. Based on your preferences, you can easily plus or minus the recipe ingredients following my tips section below. I make it often for our lunch or dinner. We serve it with Lassi and pickle.
To make my recipe as is you will only need any kind of rice, moong dal, basic spices including fresh ginger and ghee or oil.
How to make khichdi (stepwise photos)
1. We usually dry roast dal on a low to medium flame until lightly golden. Cool and store it in a jar. Whenever needed rinse the dal and use. This helps to make the khichdi more aromatic. This is an optional step which you can follow if you have enough time.
2. Rinse ½ cup rice and ½ cup moong dal in a pot either separately or together. Soak them until the onions and tomatoes are chopped. Here are the ingredients you need to prepare:
- ¼ cup onions – finely chopped (1 small onion)
- ½ cup tomatoes – finely chopped (1 medium tomato). We prefer deseeded or pureed
- 1 green chili chopped or slit (optional)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon grated ginger (1 inch peeled)
- You can also add 1 ½ cups chopped veggies like carrot, potatoes, peas & beans. Set these aside.
3. Heat a pressure cooker with 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons ghee. If you are a vegan, then substitute ghee with oil.
4. When the ghee melts, regulate the flame to low. Add ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera) and 1 bay leaf (optional). Saute until aromatic for 30 to 40 seconds. Then add 1 pinch of hing.
5. Next add ¾ to 1 teaspoon ginger and saute for a minute without burning.
6. Add 1 small chopped onion and 1 green chili (optional). Saute well until the onions become golden. Skip chili if making for kids.
7. Then add 1 medium chopped tomato, ¼ teaspoon turmeric and ½ teaspoon salt. You can also add ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder (optional) for heat.
8. Saute until tomatoes turn mushy. If using vegetables add them here and saute for 2 to 3 mins. I did not have any veggies so I have not added.
9. Drain the daal completely and add it here. Saute for 3 to 4 mins to bring out the aroma of the dal. Skip frying if you are using roasted dal.
10. Then drain the water from the rice and add it here.
11. Pour 4 cups water. For porridge like consistency, add 4 cups. I used 4 cups. If you want just a mushy texture then add 3 cups. Mix well and taste the water. It has to be slightly salty. If needed add more. Give a good stir so any food stuck at the bottom releases.
12. Cover the pressure cooker. On a medium flame I pressure cooked for 4 whistles to get a soup consistency. To get grainy consistency, 2 whistles would be enough.
13. Wait for the pressure to release naturally. Open the lid and stir well. Taste test and add more salt if needed. If you like more soupy consistency, boil half cup water in a separate pot and pour it here. Mix it well & simmer just until bubbling.
Transfer to a serving bowl and add a tsp of ghee. Serve khichdi with pickle, papad and lassi.
What to serve with khichdi
Khichdi is best served hot with a topping of ghee. Well most people eat it with papad, pickle and curd (Indian yogurt) on the side. If you ever order a khichdi platter in a restaurant these are the 4 things you get with khichdi – ghee, papad, pickle and curd. In some places they serve it with lassi.
But if you are eating khichdi following an ayurvedic diet, then do not serve it with yogurt as lentils and yogurt are an incompatible combination. This combination is best avoided by people recovering from sickness.
You may want to check these pickles to pair with your meal – mango pickle or instant carrot pickle.
Cooking dal khichdi in a pot/ pan
To cook lentils in a pot or pan, rinse and soak the lentils in hot water for at least 30 to 40 minutes. This saves some time and energy as the soaked lentils cook faster. You can soak rice and lentils together. Later drain the water.
Follow the recipe as mentioned for the pressure cooker method until you add the rice and lentils to the pan. Soaked lentils won’t get roasted so skip that step and pour 4 ½ cups water.
Cook on a medium heat uncovered or partially covered so the froth won’t overflow. As the dal khichdi cooks, keep checking and add hot water as required. Avoid using cold water as the pot will cool down and take longer to cook.
When the lentils and rice is soft cooked, mash it slightly with a masher or a ladle so you get a thicker consistency like the pressure cooked khichdi. Usually lentils cooked in pot won’t have the same texture as the pressure cooked ones so this step will make your khichdi thicker & nice.
Instant pot khichdi
I make khichdi in instant pot for the whole family as mentioned below in the recipe card. Sometimes only one or 2 of us want to have it, then I make it following the pot in pot method. This way the large pot need not be cleaned.
For this method, I rinse the rice and dal in a small pot that fits into the IP. I do the tempering in a small pan and then transfer the ingredients to a pot. Add the vegetable like carrots, peas and beans directly to the pot. Pour water and pressure cook for 8 minutes.
I also place a bowl of water inside the pot so I use it to stir to bring the khichdi to consistency. You can find the detailed instructions for the first method in the recipe card below.
This section will help you choose the best kind of ingredients suitable to you in case you are making dal khichdi for health benefits. A basic ayurvedic khichdi is made with just rice, moong dal, cumin, turmeric, ginger, salt & pure cow’s ghee. Ingredients like pepper or any other spice & veggies are optionally used based on the body type.
Ghee also known as clarified butter, is one of the key ingredients in a khichdi. It is said that ghee helps in digestion and enhances ojas, meaning life energy. It is said to be healing and balances body and mind equally. So khichdi is always made with ghee. However if you are under a diet then simply use any vegetable oil of your choice.
Moong dal is the standard lentil used to make khichdi. These are split and skinned yellow lentils made from whole green mung beans. As I said earlier these are great for balancing any disturbances in the body. However you can also make this with any kind of lentils like split pigeon peas (toor dal), masoor dal (red lentils) or even with soaked whole mung beans.
Spices: Usually cumin is the only spice used in the basic khichdi. Depending on the body constitutions ingredients like fresh ginger, black pepper and turmeric are suggested. For this recipe I don’t suggest skipping the spices mentioned in the recipe unless you have a diet restriction.
Without these, khichdi will not be flavorful. You can also use bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves & cardamoms as all these flavour up the khichdi.
Hing is known as asafoetida in English. It is considered as a powerful spice used to clear up stagnation, bloating and toxins in the body. So it is used in khichdi as it aids digestion. If you are on a gluten-free diet, then look for gluten-free hing or skip it completely. Use only as mentioned. It is a stimulant so do not use a lot.
Rice is the most common grain used to make dal khichdi. But we also make it with other grains like millets, quinoa, oats, broken wheat and even with semolina. For healthy option, refined or polished rice is not used. So you can also use brown rice, hand pound rice or any other less processed kind of rice.
Vegetables: I usually make this with just a small onion, tomatoes & carrots as preparing other veggies takes some time. However you can also add your favorite veggies like peas, beans & potatoes. It is all about the flavor of veggies you like. Avoid adding veggies you don’t like. Also note that veggies will be mushy in the khichdi.
Spinach: You can also add spinach to dal khichdi. I do not prefer to overcook my greens so I saute fine chopped spinach separately in a pan until they wilt completely. Add them to the hot khichdi. Cook only for a few minutes until the leaves blend well.
Masala khichdi is more flavorful and spicy. Add ¾ teaspoon garam masala along with turmeric and ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder.
To make vegetable masala khichdi, add 1 ½ cups of mixed vegetables , ¾ teaspoon garam masala and whole spices like 1 bay leaf, 2 cardamoms, 1 inch cinnamon & 2 cloves.
Palak Khichdi – use about 1 ½ to 2 cups of finely chopped baby spinach or Indian spinach. There are 2 ways to use. The first method is to add it to the pan before sautéing the dal and rice.
Second method: Recently I have been making it by sautéing the spinach separately and then adding it to the cooked khichdi. I only cook the khichdi for 2 mins after adding spinach.
If you are making khichdi for a baby then skip using all the spices & salt. Optionally you can add veggies which you have already introduced & suggested by your pediatrician.
If you are making khichdi for a person recovering from illness, then skip spices & add a wide variety of veggies which are suggested by your doctor.
We usually dry roast moong dal until aromatic and store it in a jar. Use it whenever needed to make the dish. This adds a lot of aroma. However I have shown a cut short method below.
Khichdi recipe (Dal khichdi)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 to 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or oil
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf or 1 sprig of curry leaves (optional)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon ginger grated or ginger paste (1 inch piece)
- ¼ cup onion finely chopped (1 very small, optional)
- 1 green chili slit or ½ tsp red chili powder
- ½ cup tomatoes deseeded & fine chopped or pureed (1 medium)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ⅓ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- ½ cup rice (any kind or quinoa, steel cut oats, millets)
- ½ cup moong dal (skinless petite yellow lentils) (or any other dal)
- 4 cups water (more to adjust, for porridge consistency)
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing) (optional)
- ½ tablespoon ghee for topping
- 1 medium carrot cubed
- 8 french beans cut to 1 inch length
- 1 small potato cubed
- Add rice and moong dal to a pot. Rinse them at least thrice & drain water completely. If you do not have a cooker, then soak them for 30 to 40 mins. This will help them cook faster.
- Heat ghee in a pressure cooker or pot on a medium heat.
- Saute bay leaf (optional) & cumin seeds on a low flame for 1 min.
- Then saute ginger until fragrant for about 30 to 60 seconds & sprinkle hing.
- Add onions and green chilies. Saute them until the raw smell of onions goes away & they begin to turn golden.
- Next add tomatoes, carrots, beans, salt and turmeric. Saute for 3 to 4 mins.
- Then add drained daal and rice. Saute for 3 to 4 mins.
- Pour 4 cups water for porridge like consistency or 3 cups for mushy consistency.
- Stir well & taste the water. Add more salt if needed.
How to make khichdi in pressure cooker
- Cover the pressure cook and let it cook for 2 whistles on a medium flame for a mushy khichdi. Cook for 4 to 5 whistles on a medium flame for porridge consistency.
- Let the pressure release on its own, then open the lid and mix well. If the consistency is too thick for your liking, pour about ½ to ¾ cup hot boiling water and simmer for 1 to 2 mins until dal khichdi begins to bubble. Taste test and adjust salt.
Khichdi in regular pan or pot
- If cooking in a pot, bring water to a boil on a high flame. Then reduce the flame to medium to low and continue to cook.
- Leave the pot uncovered or partially covered so the froth won't overflow. Keep checking and add more hot boiling water (about ½ to ¾ cups) as needed until the lentils are fully soft cooked.
- When both are done, mash the khichdi slightly so you get a thicker consistency. Adjust salt as needed.
- Transfer to serving plates and pour 1 tsp ghee on the hot khichdi. Serve with papad and pickle.
Instant pot Khichdi
- Press saute button (medium) on your Instant pot. Pour ghee to the steel insert.
- As soon as the ghee melts, add bay leaf and cumin seeds.
- When cumin begins to sizzle add onions & chopped chili.
- Saute until onions turn transparent. Next add in ginger, hing, tomatoes, all veggies & turmeric.
- Saute for 2 to 3 mins until tomatoes turn mushy.
- Add drained rice & lentils. Saute them for another 2 to 3 mins.
- Next add salt & pour water. Deglaze the pot by scraping the bottom with a spatula to remove bits of food stuck in there if any. Mix well & taste the water.
- Add more salt if needed. Secure the lid & move the steam release handle to sealing.
- Press the pressure cook or manual button (high pressure). Set the timer to 8 mins. Or you can also press porridge button & set timer to 9 mins.
- Once it is done, the instant pot beeps, then press cancel and switch off.
- Wait for a natural pressure release for 10 minutes & release the rest manually.
- When the float valve drops, open the lid & stir gently.
- If you like soupy khichdi, add some hot boiling water to bring to consistency you like. Saute for 1 minute if you prefer.
- Top dal khichdi with little ghee & serve with pickle or papad or chutney.
- To make the khichdi more flavorful, add 1 inch cinnamon piece, 2 cloves and 2 cardamoms.
- To make masala khichdi, Just add ¾ teaspoon garam masala along with turmeric.
- For vegetable masala khichdi, add 1 ½ cups of mixed veggies like carrots, beans and potatoes. Also stir in ¾ teaspoon of garam masala.
- To make palak or spinach khichdi – Use about 1 ½ to 2 cups of finely chopped spinach and saute for 2 mins. Then add rice and dal.
- Moong dal is the most common lentil used, but you can also use toor dal (skinned split pigeon peas) or masoor dal (red lentils).
- Any kind of rice can be used like brown rice, short grain, medium grain or long grain. Use more water accordingly. If using brown rice, soak them for atleast an hour.
- For vegan version, replace ghee with oil. For a gluten-free khichdi, use gluten-free hing or skip it.
- Soak rice and lentils for at least 30 to 40 mins. This cuts down the cooking time and gives a better texture to the khichdi.
- You can also skip roasting lentils as the soaked ones don’t get roasted well.
- Start with 4 ½ cups water and as the khichdi cooks keep checking. Pour more hot water to cook further.
- Lastly once the lentils are cooked, mash slightly to get a similar thicker consistency as the pressure cooked khichdi.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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