If you have been following my recent posts on this blog, you will remember that the Facebook group of which I am a member, Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, has set us the very enjoyable task of cooking our way through the cuisines of each of the many States in India. The theme for April 2018 is Haryana. I had thought I was well versed with the cuisine of this State, but when I started reading up on it, I found that there were a variety of dishes to choose from, some of which I was totally unfamiliar with. This Haryanvi Bajra Khichdi is one such dish. Though I have had (and enjoyed) food made of bajra several times, I had not earlier cooked bajra myself.
The first step in the challenge was therefore to find out how best to cook bajra (or pearl millet or kambu) as it is called in Tamil. I browsed online and Google very helpfully showed up a number of recipes for making Bajra Khichdi as well as ways to cook the Bajra. The problem was each of them gave different instructions on how to cook the millets. Some said to soak the millets, some to grind it first, some to wash and de-husk it and some advised just washing, draining and then letting the grains sit for a short while.
I was thoroughly confused until my friend Theyanmozhi advised that I soak the bajra overnight and then pressure cook it. This is the method I followed and it worked like a charm, giving me a creamy bajra but with a nice texture to chew on and to contrast with the soft cooked dal. Thank you, Theyan!
I realised that the different methods for cooking the bajra were because the recipes I referred used different millets such as foxtail millets (thinai), finger millets (rage), pearl millets (bajra, kambu) etc, each of which need to be treated differently. I am sure any of these would have made a nice khichdi with moong dal, but I was supposed to be making a dish from the cuisine of Haryana, so Bajra Khichdi it had to be.
The Bajra Khichidi from Haryana is traditionally rustic and simple – no frills – no onion, garlic, potato, tomatoes etc. No spices, just some cumin seeds, ginger, hing and turmeric powders. The ghee used to make the ‘tadka’ (and the garnish, if you opt for it) gives just that touch which takes the dish from tasty to uber delicious. I used freshly homemade ghee (ahem!) and the aroma just filled the house.
Along with the recipe for the simple Bajra Khichdi, I have given you optional ingredients for a Masala Bajra Khichdi. The simple version is quite tasty, but you might want to pep it up or add vegetables while making the khichdi. If adding vegetables, just a few will do -apart from onion and garlic – potatoes, cauliflower diced small, and peas. Or chopped spinach or methi (fenugreek) leaves. Toss in a bay leaf for a touch of spice.
Ive explained in earlier posts how this group Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, works. We are each partnered for a month with another member, and we exchange the names of 2 ingredients which will fit in with the theme for the month. These are the ‘secret ingredients’ which we include in the recipe of whatever dish we make as per the cuisine for the theme. We post an image of the prepared item, on the group, and all the other members try to guess which 2 ingredients could be the secret ones.
For the Haryana Theme this month, my charming partner Aruna Panangipally suggested ghee and ginger as my secret ingredients, and both of them added to the deliciousness of the Bajra Khichdi.
Aruna blogs at aahaaramlonline. I loved everything on the blog – tasty vegetarian and vegan recipes, many of them traditional, with clear instructions for each step. There are a number of desserts, and, which I found most intriguing, a host of international recipes- including those from Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco as well as from the Middle East! Do check out her blog and try the recipes for yourself, such as this tempting looking Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. For this months theme, I gave her sugar and ghee as the secret ingredients. Just look at the totally delicious Atte ka Halwa/ Kada Prasad that she has made and posted on her blog, it looks like it will just melt in the mouth!
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Here are some more recipes on the blog that may interest you:
Mutter ka Nimona – Spiced Green Peas curry
Adai – Multigrain Dosa/Crepes