Last week was the season premiere of TWC -- The Weather Channel. There was drama, earthquake, suspense, Irene the tormenting saas making an entry, hurricane, fear, tropical storm, tornado watch and lots of media coverage.
I watched Weather Channel like I have never done in my life. It is usually my Dad's prerogative when he is here and especially if it is winter. But in one week I outdid him. I watched it on the telly, on the laptop, on my iPad, on my phone...you name it and I was watching Weather Channel. And this from me who rarely ever watches television. You will say "House" and I will stare at you blank, you say "Dexter" and I am clueless. Beyond "Friends", "Everybody loves Raymond" and at times "Seinfeld" I don't think I have ever watched any series with so much emotions except of course Barney, Arthur and Dora the Explorer.
If this was India and there was a that thing called TRP, I bet TWC would score huge wins over stuff like "KKKKKKUsum" and "Kyunki Sass Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi" and all this without even starting off with a "K".
So anyway we were all pretty excited and prepared for the hurricane maiden Irene this weekend. In its wake, the earthquake earlier in the week seemed like merely a child in diapers.
When I went to the grocery store on Thursday evening and couldn't find a single bunch of yellow banana and then had to snatch away the last gallon of Organic Milk from another equally eager Mother, I kind of had a premonition of the heady days ahead. I called up at least a dozen friends and told them about "bare shelves" and how we could not find a "single thing" at Wegman's when the truth is I notched up a bill of 125 dollars just buying things I might need in an emergency and this included tubs of Haagen-Daz's Dulche de Leche. They in turn regaled me with their stories of stores bereft of bottles of water and such.
The myths just propagated but honestly we couldn't find a single flashlight in any store on Friday and turned out that was the single most important thing we would need.
Saturday, to mark it special and all I decided to make a Bhuni Khichuri. I am not particularly fond of Khichuris and never eager to make them. But D loves Khichuri to bits so for once I decided to put aside my own selfish interest and cook something that he might like. What with the hurricane and all I thought, I better mend my ways and become a better person.
I was armed with two recipes from folks on FaceBook, a sketchy one from the Mater and my own strong desire to add a twist to the Bhuni Khichuri. Bhuni Khichuri or Bhuna Khichuri is the richer version of the plain old Khichuri. It is more of a Pulao in the Khichdi family than a Khichuri. It can have non-vegetarian components like meat, eggs or prawn added to it. The name "Bhuni" or "Bhuna" comes from the step that involves roasting of the moong dal and frying the rice etc. to make this Khichdi.
My own memories of Bhuni Khichuri is more fictional than practical and is strongly grounded in what Buddhadeb Guha insists that "Rijuda"(of Rijudar Sathe Jongole fame) eats along with delicious venison meat(horiner mangsho) during his hunting adventures.
On Saturday however I was also plagued with memories of Bisi Bele Bhath and I wanted a spice component to the Bhuni Khichuri. So from the Masala Vani suggests I omitted Curry Leaves, Sambhar Powder and Coconut, for a Bong touch added Paanch Phoron and made a spice powder. The Spice Powder along with the roasted Moong Dal, the Raisins, the Cashwes and the Ghee made for a suitably rich and delicious Bhuni Khicuri. We had it with some Papad and a spicy Chicken dish. By evening we were all ready for the hurricane and when the power conked off after midnight we went off to bed confident of a better tomorrow.
I just read that Swami Vivekananda who apparently was a very eager and experimental cook was fond of Bhuni Khicuri and made one with scrambled Duck Eggs added to it. This makes the cooking over the weekend all the more worthwhile.
Make a Spice Powder
This is totally optional and not generic to traditional Bhuni Khichuri. You can use 1 tbsp of home made Garam Masala instead
3 Dry red Chili(mine is not very hot, adjust according to taste)
4 green cardamom
1 big black cardamom(use only pods for grinding)
2" stick of cinnamon
1/4 tsp of Paanch Phoron
1 tbsp of Corriander seeds or 1 tsp of Corriander Powder
a pinch of Hing
Grind to a fine powder
Dry Roast 1 cup of Yellow Moong Dal till you get a nutty smell and some of the lentil is a light brown in color. Be careful, not to burn the lentils.
Wash 1 cup of Basmati or Gobindobhog rice and keep aside
Roast 2 tbsp of Kaju/Cashew in little oil and keep aside.
In a Pressure Cooker heat 1 tbsp of White Oil OR Ghee
Temper the Oil with
2 small Bay Leaves
2 small green cardamom
1" thin stick of cinnamon (optional, I skipped)
1-2 Dry Red Chili
When the spices sputter, add 2 tbsp of finely chopped onion. Fry the onion till it is brown at the edges
Add 1 heaped tsp of homemade Ginger-Garlic Paste (more Ginger, less Garlic) and fry for a minute.
Puree 1 medium juicy tomato and add to above. Continue frying with sprinkles of water till the tomato is cooked.
Now add 1/2 cup of Peas. I added about 3/4 cup of Frozen Carrots + Peas. You can also add potatoes, cauliflowers etc. Fry for couple more minutes.
Add the roasted Dal followed with the rice. Add 1/4th tsp of turmeric powder + the dry spice powder you made. You can use 1 tbsp of the spice powder you made, if you prefer less spicy.
Add 1-2 tbsp of golden raisins. Now fry everything for 3-4 more minutes.
Add about 4 to 4&1/2 Cup of warm water, salt and about 1/2 tsp of sugar. Mix everything. Add 1 tsp of Ghee. Close the lid of the Pressure cooker and cook for 4 minutes at full pressure. My pressure cooker cooks rice in 3 mins at full pressure, I give a minute extra for the dal.
When you open the lid of the cooker, add a tsp more of Ghee if you want. Add the roasted Kaju/Cashew Nuts. Keep container closed and serve piping hot with Papad, chutney, fried Hilsa, Begun Bhaja or any meat dish. Bhuni Khichuri is supposed to be dry and not runny or liquid-y like the regular Khichuri, you can however adjust to your taste.