Clean and wash the rice and dhal. Soak together in water just enough to cover them, and set aside till required. Drain before use.
Mince ginger, garlic and curry leaves and the coriander leaves (to be used for the garnish) and set aside. Dice the tomatoes.
Wash and peel (if required) and dice the vegetable of the day, into small pieces. Carrots, methi (fenugreek leaves), spinach leaves, or a plain gourd such as snake gourd or chow chow (marrow gourd) would be best.
Powder the peppercorns and cumin seeds together ( I pound them in a small iron mortar)
Heat a pan or the pressure cooker, and add the ghee (I sauté everything right in the cooker itself and then add the rice and dhal).
Add rai (mustard seeds) and let them sputter. Add the curry leaves (they will crackle and sputter, if fresh) and then the ginger and the garlic. Sauté for 5 seconds.
Meanwhile, drain the rice and dhal mixture.
Add the tomato and then the turmeric. Stir and sauté for 10 seconds.
Add the sliced vegetables. Stir.
Add the powdered pepper and cumin. Stir.
If sautéing in a pan, set the pressure cooker on the stove, warm it and transfer the sautéed items into it.
Add the drained rice and dhal, stir the mixture. Add salt and crushed peppercorns.
Pour 4 to 5 times the volume of water as the total volume of rice and dhal. This is your secret ingredient!
Close the cooker and let it cook for 4 whistles.
Don't open the cooker till its ready to be opened, as the cooking process will continue.
Meanwhile, break the cashew into pieces, and fry in ghee for a few seconds till the colour begins to darken. Drain and remove quickly from the pan before the cashew begins to burn and set aside.
Keep the ghee you used for frying the cashew, ready for use.
Once the cooker is opened, stir the khichidi briskly, transfer to a serving dish and pour the hot ghee over it. Add the fried cashew and garnish with the minced coriander leaves.
Serve hot with roasted or microwaved pappad.