Brown Rice Khichdi with Three Dals

Khichdi has become such an emblematic dish in Indian food discourse in the US that  I feel a little embarrassed to say that I never liked it as a kid or for that matter in my twenties. My mother made it with moong dal and I didn’t like moong dal as a kid. She invariably put cauliflower in it and even though I could and did eat around it, I did not care for the aroma or flavour of cauliflower. But in my late-middle age I have overcome many of my early life food aversions—see, for example, my sudden and sustained love affair with bainga/brinjal/eggplant—and these days I make and enjoy khichdi as well. And of late I’ve been making it mostly with brown rice, which I am also these days eating more often than I am eating white rice. And I’ve been making it with all kinds of dal variations. The very rough recipe I have for you today uses a combination of three dals and is probably my current favourite. If you don’t have all three dals feel free to just use one; and if you’re using just one the adult me would repudiate young me and tell you to make that moong dal.


  • 1 cup brown rice, soaked for 30-60 minutes
  • 1/3 cup each of moong dal, masoor dal and toor dal, rinsed in a few changes of water
  • The following whole garam masala; 2 tez patta/Indian bay leaves, 3-5 pods of green cardamom, 1 large piece of cassia bark/cinnamon, 2-3 cloves
  • 1 tspn cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tspn hing/asafoetida
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 tspn minced ginger
  • 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • Salt
  • 6-7 cups water + more as needed
  • 2-3 tblspn neutral oil of choice
  • 1 tspn ghee
  • A few grindings black pepper


  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a deep pot.
  2. When the oil shimmers add the whole garam masala and the cumin seeds.
  3. When the cumin crackles and splits add the hing and stir.
  4. Add the onions and saute till nicely browned around the edges.
  5. Add the ginger and saute till the raw aroma is gone.
  6. Add the tomato and salt and saute till the tomatoes have completely broken down and the oil begins to separate.
  7. Drain the rice and add it to the pot along with the rinsed dal. Mix thoroughly.
  8. Add the water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook till the rice is done. Check from time to time and add more water 1/2 cup at a time if necessary.
  9. When the rice is done, uncover and if more soupy than you like, reduce over a high simmer till you have it where you want it.
  10. Stir in the ghee and grind the pepper over.
  11. Serve with a tart pickle.


  1. I realize that the cooking time is vague even by my very vague standards. It’s hard to be precise about that or how much water you will likely need because brown rice differs greatly by varietal. But this is a very forgiving recipe and it is very tasty whether made quite porridgy or even soupy and also if it ends up reduced to sticky.
  2. However, when making 1 cup of brown rice I prefer to make it porridgy as any leftovers will get drier in the fridge.
  3. This is great with a tart-spicy pickle on the side. For example, this lime pickle.



5 thoughts on “Brown Rice Khichdi with Three Dals

    • I don’t in this case because both of the following apply: a) I use an old-school Indian pressure cooker and I have no idea how to convert its usage to the kind of pressure cookers my readers in the US (who are the vast majority of my readers) might use; and b) different kinds of brown rice cook very differently even in pressure cookers. The stove-top recipe thus is more foolproof. In the case of recipes where a crucial ingredient itself is not such a variable I do usually indicate in the notes how I do it in my whistling pressure cooker.


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