The Story of Cooking the Khichdi

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Ever since I was a young boy, I have always been curious about everything. I love to discover new things. Whenever I come across something that I have no idea of, I tend to look them up quickly and read through all the information I can get my hands on. 

One day, my English teacher shared with us this Indian Folklore entitled Cooking The Khichdi - the story goes like this:

It was winter. The ponds were all frozen.  At the court, King Akbar asked Birbal, "Tell me Birbal, will a man do anything for money? Birbal relied, "Yes". The Emperor ordered him to prove it.  The next day Birbal came to the court along with a poor Brahmin who merely had a penny left with him.  His family was starving.  Birbal told the King that the Brahmin was ready to do anything for the sake of money.   The King ordered the Brahmin to be inside the frozen pond all through the night without any attire if he need the money.  The poor Brahmin had no choice.  The whole night he was inside the pond, shivering.  He returned to the durbar the next day to receive his reward.  The King asked "Tell me, Oh poor Brahmin!  How could you withstand the extreme temperature all through the night?"  The innocent Brahmin replied " I could see a faintly glowing light a kilometer away and I withstood with that ray of light"  Akbar refused to pay the Brahmin his reward saying that he got warmth from the light and withstood the cold and that was cheating.  The poor Brahmin could not argue with him so he returned home disappointed and bare-handed.  Birbal tried to explain to the King but the King was in no mood to listed to him. Thereafter, Birbal stopped coming to the durbar and sent a messenger to the King saying that he would come to the court only after cooking his khichdi.  As Birbal did not turn up even after 5 days, the King himself went to Birbal's house to see what he was doing.  Birbal had lit the fire and kept the pot of uncooked khichdi one meter away from it. King Akbar questioned him, "How will the khichdi get cooked with the fire one meter away?  What is wrong with you Birbal?" Birbal, cooking the khichdi, replied "Oh my great King of Hindustan! When it was possible for person to receive warmth from a light that was a kilometer away, then it is possible for this khichdi, which is just a meter away from the source of heat, to get cooked."  Akbar understood his mistake.  He called the poor Brahmin and rewarded him 2000 gold coins. 

This lesson of ours got me curious of what a khichdi is.  Was it delicious that a King would know of such a dish?  Searching the ever reliable Internet, I learned that khichdi is a traditional comfort food of India.

Khichdi is a popular dish in South Asia.  It is a simple food which has rice as the main ingredient.  It is very light, nutritious and easily digestible. Vegetables may be added like potatoes, lentils, green peas, cauliflower, cabbage or broccoli.  To add flavor in it, turmeric, salt or pepper may be added. Flakes of fish, chicken or ground pork may be added to satisfy one's craving.   

I asked my dad to try cooking the khichdi.  He said soon, as he was cooking something similar - Arroz Caldo, a staple Filipino food made out of rice with bits of chicken.  I'll be posting about that later. 


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