Convenience and Desire play a very delicious tango! 20 years back, our eternal desire rooted for a delicious and extensive Biryani/Pulao but practical convenience emerged victorious, and most often than not, we got a plain lucid Khichdi. It had almost become a norm for Saturday afternoons, that time- an unwritten writ, which ensured that we gulped the coveted Khichdi for 2 decades. There was one point of time where as a child, I used to curse Saturday afternoons. There was no option left- we had to abandon our deepest emotional desire and cling on to the stated but no so obvious health benefits of having a Khichdi once a week.
Khichdi left an emotional scar till I left my home and ventured into hostel life, which indeed left so many culinary scars that I had to sacrifice my taste buds. Taste as a variable became a random and chance event- completely dependent on a person’s mood, irrespective of the ingredient used. That’s when homemade Khichdi resurfaced as a winner. The love-hate relationship with Khichdi has seen many twist and turns! Who could forget it as a savior during the days of our sickness? One of my friends recently equated it to being our mother in the culinary world. “Don’t you think that we look upto Khichdi during our most painful and suffering time, similar to us remembering our moms?”
Hence I got emotional when I recently read that Khichdi is indeed trending and an attempt is being made to cook a record quantity of khichdi at World Food India, an event being organized by Food processing ministry to attract foreign investments and technology in domestic food processing. Chef Sanjeev Kapoor will supervise the exercise on Saturday to prepare 800kg of khichdi in a 1,000-litre pan. Khichdi emerging as the winner on Brand India food front surely has some emotional chords attached to it. Yes it’s as diverse as it could get. From being a festive dish eaten on Makar Sakranti to being served as a bhog to the Gods by many. It’s all encompassing- from North to South India. History has its traces too- from Vedas (where it is referred to as kshirika, a simple rice and lentil dish) to Mughals to the British era. Don’t be surprised to see new stylish variants of the dish being served by the restaurants, glamorizing the plain but classy dish. Something which Test match cricket saw through the tadka of T20 added to it.
While Khichdi is all set to live its 2nd innings- that too in some flora and fauna, this latest buzz has been latched onto by my wife in a much different connotation. She said “Seeing your deluge of emotions over the nostalgic dish, why don’t you completely own Saturday afternoons- Relive & explore the possibilities this dish can extend into!” Before I could gather my senses, she shot back, rather affirmatively, with a smile on the face- “You are now going to cook Khichdi on Saturday afternoons and are completely free to experiment with it” I immediately remembered my friend who had symbolized the dish as a “go to” during our most troublesome times ~ akin to our moms. Well, I was getting into the dangerous territory. So, I decided to keep it plain and simple. “Yes, why not”, welcoming back the nostalgic Saturday afternoons!