Kitchari is our Indian answer to chicken noodle soup. Whenever we have a tummy ache or need to eat light, we reach for this mix of dal and rice. Here, I use green whole moong with brown rice. For the slow cooker version, head to page 79 of my book The Indian Slow Cooker. For the stovetop, use the direction below in a large, roomy Dutch oven on your stove. Just be sure to keep an eye on it. You could also cook the dal, rice, and water and make the tarka or tempering on the side and add that in at the end of cooking.
While this is not a dish that seems as interesting as some of the more flavorful curries I've shown you, rest assured it's delicious and will earn a place in your weekly meal plan. The key to taking the flavor up a notch is to add the garnishes I've suggested below - especially the achaar. Even a slight amount will ramp up the flavor and earn this dish a new level of respect in any household. Trust me!
Desi Corner: In our Indian-American home, one thing is clear, kitchari is well-loved, but it has its place and is rarely if ever allowed on our dinner table. I get loud groans and resistance if I ever offer it up as a meal past noon. While we love it, it's just not 'sexy' enough of a dish to cross that line from a quick, easy lunch to supper. The funny thing is that many of my cookbook fans (non-Indian) have been writing me for years that they are indeed eating Kitchari not only for dinner, but often for breakfast as well! I was interviewed in this piece on Kitchari in the Washington Post that will give you some valuable background on the cultural significance of this dish as well as the variation across India.
Instant Pot: Sabut Moong Kitchari, Whole Green Dal & Brown Rice Porridge
Pressure Cooker Size: 3 quart or larger
Warm Up: 18 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Cool Down: Manual release time
TOTAL: 30 minutes plus manual release time
Makes: 7 cups
1 1/2 cups sabut moong dal (dried whole green dal with skin), picked over and washed
½ cup brown rice
2 teaspoons oil or ghee
1 pinch hing (asafoetida) (optional)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 small yellow or red onion, minced
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 fresh Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon salt
6 cups water
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
2 tablespoons minced yellow, red, or white onion, for garnish
2 teaspoons butter or ghee, for garnish
1. Soak the moong and rice together in boiled, hot water for 20 minutes. Drain and discard the water. Set aside.
2. Place the inner cooking pot in your Instant Pot. Select the SAUTE setting and adjust to MORE. When the indicator flashes HOT, add the oil.
3. Once hot, add the hing and cumin. Stir well and cook for 40 seconds until the seeds are reddish brown. Because the oil pools to the sides, push the spices into the oil so they fully cook.
4. Add the turmeric. Stir and cook for 30 seconds.
5. Carefully add the onion. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
6. Add the ginger, garlic, and fresh chiles. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Press CANCEL.
7. Add the garam masala, red chile, salt, moong-rice, and water. Stir.
8. Lock the lid into place and make sure the pressure release valve is set to the sealing position (upwards). Press the PRESSURE COOK button and then press the PRESSURE LEVEL button until the panel reads HIGH. Adjust the cook time to 12 minutes.
9. Once the cooking is complete, release the pressure manually.
10. Add the cilantro, onion, and ghee. For even more flavor, add a small dollop of achaar (Indian pickle). Eat steaming hot alone or with a brothy, spicy curry on the side.