Sharing warmth from home

Written by Daniel 

Bangladesh is a country in South Asia. It is the world's eighth-most populous country, with a population of more than 163 million people living on an area of 147,570 square kilometers. Not only are there many people, but they are densely concentrated . The country is known as the "Land of Rivers" because it is home to over 57 trans-boundary rivers. Bangladesh shares land borders with India, so if you're familiar with some comfort Indian foods, Sharif's Patla Khichuri should pique your interest!

Khichuri is a meal that Sharif's mom and maternal relatives are very good at cooking. Sharif remembers that the thick, soft, gooey lentil rice used to be a common weekly meal, particularly during the winter.

 

During the cold weather, he and his two elder sisters would sit together at the table with their plates and their mom or aunt would serve the lentil rice directly from the stove.

 

The flame-hot khichuri was very aromatic because of all the spices. Then they drizzled a little ghee (clarified butter) on top to make it even more delicious, having the taste like lentil soup mixed with rice - a bit hot and spicy! Sharif and his siblings ate with their hands most of the time, taking care not to burn their fingers or lips due to the heat. His mother would garnish their food with either egg omelets, beef curry, or fried eggplant.

 

They used the hot food to keep their bodies warm during the cold winter nights.

 

Patla Khichuri was their family's favorite. His two elder sisters had their other favorite dishes too, particularly the desserts such as pudding and cake.

 

Sharif's parents are from Sirajganj, a district in Bangladesh's northern region. While doing his Masters in Ohio University, Athens, Ohio State in 2017, Sharif met colleagues who also grew up in the same district where his parents come from. His Bengali friends invited him over to their apartment in Ohio and prepared Patla Khichuri for him. Sharif recounts that it was an emotional moment because he had no idea what was on the menu and the meal felt almost like home… almost.

Sharif, currently an international graduate student, never wanted to attempt to cook this type of meal because he believed he would never be able to replicate the taste.

 

However, he became lonesome during the pandemic and decided to experiment with it.

 

Sharif got to the point of making an emulated version of what his mum and aunt used to cook after a few phone consultations with his mom, several YouTube videos, and a handful of failed efforts. Since then, the meal has become his go-to comfort food. Sharif shared the meal with his Indian roommate. His pal evidently enjoyed it and afterwards prepared his own delectable version. Sharif's Bloomington non-Bengali pals, who had never tasted his mother's food, declared it to be excellent! He can live with it! 

Sharif and his wife have a common list of favorite dishes, which includes Patla khichuri. They frequently remember Bangladesh's frigid weather and how the cuisine brought some warmth while they feast with the meal. Bloomington's winter atmosphere is quite similar to that of Bangladesh, and the perfect climate to enjoy Patla khichuri .

Sharif's Patla Khichuri 

Comfort Food Inspiration:

Steaming spiciness on a cold winter day

Copy of Sharif's collage.jpg
sharif.jpg

                                                             

Patla Khichuri 

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Servings: 3

Ingredients 

cup = 160 mL

  • 1 cup Moong daal/ Yellow Moong lentil 

  • 1 cup Mosoor daal/Red Masoor lentil 

  • 1 cup rice. (Jasmine or Basmati)

Dal: rice = 2:1

  • Salt

  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste 

  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste

  • 1 teaspoon paprika/red chili powder 

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder 

  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder 

  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder 

  • Thinly sliced onions

  • Green chili 

  • Butter/ghee (optional)

  • Dry red pepper (optional)

  • Green peas (optional)

  • Mustard oil (optional)

  • Vegetables (optional)

    • Peas

    • Cauliflower florets 

    • Small-cut carrots

Preparation 

On a fry pan, lightly heat up the dry moong dal till turning brown and smelling nice. Then wash it together with masoor daal. Mix with rice. Put the mix in a large saucepan/dish. Put water. 

 

Important: Chal daal mix: water = 3 cups of mix: 3 liters of water. 

 

Turn the heat on high. Put salt, all the paste, and powder mentioned above. Add two-thirds of the sliced onions.  Mix well. Do not put any lid. Occasionally stir to make sure nothing is stuck on the bottom of the dish. Otherwise, you will have a hard time cleaning the residue. Clear the foam from masoor daal developing on the upper layer. Continue up to 40 minutes or till the ingredients are softened and thickened. Don’t forget to stir. Don’t wait too long for thickness. It will be somewhat liquid. Put some green chilis. If you want to add frozen peas/cauliflower, you can add it now. 

 

On a frying pan, heat a little amount of oil. Fry the remaining one-third onion until it turns brown. Put two or three dry red peppers and fry those too. Mix those (including oil) into the boiling khichuri. Taste the salt. Turn off the heat immediately after mixing fried onions so that the smell remains. Add a teaspoon of butter/ghee and a teaspoon of mustard oil for taste (optional). If you have a powder of fried jeera (cumin), sprinkle them a bit.