If you’re not crazy about crushing garlic that sounds much like me… except that I am also allergic to it, as I am also to the ubiquitous onion… no, seriously (in case you find that incredible)! Besides, I’m vegetarian (though not a vegan), hence most meals for me end up being home-cooked. Nope, there’s nobody around here who can deal with my quirky requirements on a day-to-day basis… mother would do it, but she isn’t here, so… who helps me… just no one. Just as well, because I end up doing most of the cooking, and am darn good at it too! 🙂 😉 No onions, no garlic, no crushing, no crying!
Once in a while I may eat pizzas, pasta, or parathas with paneer at a restaurant, if socializing, but that’s about it. Initially as I order, the waiter smiles; it may be the simplest vegetarian appetizer, soup or entreé on the menu. Quick on the heels follows my allergy list and the charming smile transforms into a flustered expression. Forgotten are the other eager-to-order hungry guests at our table, and much to my embarrassment they tune in to an all-too-familiar exchange between waiter and yours truly: “Please, could you check with the chef that the ingredients do not include onions or garlic. Oh, and absolutely no chicken, meat, beef, fish or pork… not even in the sauce, nor in the stock. Could you confirm that please? Thank you.” Even if it’s a vegetarian restaurant, they often still won’t get it: “No onion, no garlic? Hmm… sorry, but perhaps you’d like to skip the first few pages on the menu and turn to our fine selection of desserts?” When this happens, I know instantly it’s not my day. In all fairness, some obligingly (though not quite apologetically) suggest a dish that has none of the onion or garlic inherent to the recipe. Often it’s the most boring dish or something I don’t like (may not be allergic to it). Either I relent and order it, or will truly skip the main course and order the dessert. Occasionally a resourceful chef will come by to the table and offer suggestions and bring back a wonderful customized innovation that will hold everyone’s attention. Heading back home I experience some or all of this: pangs of hunger, a dash of disappointment, flashes of anger and then again back to hunger. So… what next? Wearing an apron, I head straight into the kitchen (more like the pantry shared by students in a single bedroom):
I’m going to make Khichyu (some call it Khichu, others may refer to it as Khichi). Not to be confused with either the Korean Kimchi or the Gujarati Khichdi, khichyu is my comfort food.
Again, this is not the elaborate version made by serious fans of this food ‘specialty’, but is a 10-minutes recipe created by my mother – an excellent cook (though not quite ardent one). Khichi is tasty, very tasty…
Recipe for Khichyu:
1 cup rice flour
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 green chillies finely chopped (as per personal taste or tolerance)
1/2 inch freshly grated ginger
Salt (per taste)
3 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil (corn, canola, or olive)
Pinch (or two) Sodium bicarbonate (cooking grade) [or ‘Eno’ fruit salt]
Take two 6″-diameter round baking trays which can be used for steaming the khichyu. Grease them lightly with some oil and place aside.
Take a pot or pan that can be used for steaming and wide enough to hold one greased tray. In the pot heat about 600 ml of water; allow the water to come to a boil.
In the interim, prepare a batter of the rice flour as follows. Add the oil to the flour and mix well. Add cumin, sesame seeds, chillies, ginger, salt and slowly add water so as to make a smooth, but not-too-viscous batter. Add a pinch or two of soda bicarb to the batter, and whisk this entire mix vigorously, ensuring no lumps remain.
To steam, on a raised firm ‘platform’ in the boiling water, place the greased plate. Pour half the batter in the plate. Cover with a lid immediately. In about 3-4 minutes on a high flame, the khichyu will be cooked and ready.
You may test this either visually, or by piercing it with a fork. If the fork comes out clean, the khichi is steamed well and ready to be removed from flame. Or, if the batter has come ‘unstuck’ from the sides of the tray, you know it’s ready. Well, using tongs, remove the tray from the pot and place the tray aside. Let some steam escape. In a minute or so, cut in a grid form. Serve, sit back, and enjoy this soft savory delicacy.
While you’re enjoying the first round, you may want to place the second tray (just ensure there’s enough water boiling in the pot. If not, replenish and let it come to a boil, before placing tray in it.), pour the batter and repeat the process. Again, in a few minutes, round two will be ready. Enjoy this with a friend, or serve yourself again. Or, save some to eat after a couple of hours in case you’re satiated with the first round. You will crave for more…