It’s raining, it’s pouring

I love taking inspiration from the weather when it comes to cooking. Today’s downpour of cats and dogs set our taste buds in motion for kitcheri, (kedgeree’s foreign sister). The husband loves to eat this nostalgic dish when it rains and my mother would make this for us when we were feeling under the weather. In Pakistan, monsoon season often evokes certain food choices, chai and pakoras, monkey nuts and this thick lentil and rice dish delivers all the necessary delights.

There is something wonderfully therapeutic about the juxtaposition of fragrant smells from kitcheri cooking in the kitchen, rain falling outside and listening to Coke Studio’s music (which is so reminiscent of wet weather in Karachi, when we would find ourselves sipping on hot tea at Roadside Cafe listening to our favourite folk songs).

This recipe takes it’s roots from mine, both Pakistani and Manx. I borrow eggs from kedgeree and have often thought of adding a spicy homemade fishcake to encourage the memory of smoky haddock so crucial to it’s English counterpart. The dish is enveloped in my favourite healing ground spices and fresh garlic, ginger and onion so it packs punch health wise. I leave you with my recipe and a very nostalgic play list, so rainy weather need not always be miserable.

The music:

Ali Zafar: Yaar Daddi
Noori: Saari Raat
Meesha Shafi: Chori Chori
Kaavish: Nindiya Re
Shafqat Amanat Ali: Khamaaj
Noori & Saieen Zahoor: Aik Alif
Susheela Rehman: Ye Mera Deewanapan Hai
Zeb & Haniya: Kya Khayal Hai
Shankar Tucker ft. Rohini Ravada: Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo
Zeb & Haniya: Paimona

20140429-204710.jpg

The Kitcheri:

Serves 4-6

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cumin
Half an onion chopped
Whole spices: three all spice, several black peppers, a few cardamon pods crushed with your fingers
3 cloves of garlic chopped
2 inch piece of ginger grated
Healing spice mix: 1 scant tsp each of cayenne, ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon (mixed in a small bowl)
1/2 cup water
2 cups of red lentils washed and soaked in two cups of water (don’t drain)
1 1/2 cup of basmati rice washed and soaked in 1 cup of water (don’t drain)
2 cups organic vegetable broth
2 cups water
Himalayan pink salt to taste
Hot water (boil the kettle and let it be nearby)

To serve (optional):

One boiled egg per person
Yoghurt chutney (blend a clove of garlic, handful of chopped coriander, a tsp of honey, ground cumin and ground coriander with 1/2 cup of water, stir into a cup of yoghurt)
Mango pickle

Melt the oil with cumin seeds over a medium heat, when the seeds start to sizzle add onions and cover.

Once the onions have begun to brown slightly mix in whole spices, garlic, ginger and sauté for two minutes. Then, stir in the healing spices, 1/2 cup water, mix and cover, letting the mixture thicken for up to ten minutes.

Add lentils and rice and coat in spices.

Add broth and remaining two cups of water, raise heat and bring to a boil, season with salt, lower heat and cover for forty minutes. Stirring every ten minutes or so. Have hot water standing by incase the mixture gets dry, what you want is a mass thick wet risotto like consistency.

Serve with a sliced boiled egg, a dollop of pickle and yoghurt chutney.