I wasn’t really a fussy eater while growing up but my eating habits were rather unhealthy or primitive (as I’d like to believe) and every time mom tried to feed me with grains or rustic food from ancient Indian history, I frowned and grimaced at the look of it all. Resolving over time, I never knew I’d be making that same food in my kitchen, nourishing my child with borrowed recipes from her and the irony of it is that I’ve begun to love them. Probably, either I have become wiser with my food choices or my taste buds are always missing home. Whatever it is, I am deeply satisfied that I get to cook hearty food in my kitchen everyday. Feeding my family with age-old recipes and everything I am learning along the way is a blessing I am always thankful for. Burgul was one of the grains I stayed away from for a long time, I wouldn’t even touch the famous Bohra dessert that is made from it until one day. I don’t know when it happened but I am glad I took a shot and since then there has been no looking back.
Mum made this delicious thuli khichdi on rare rainy Sunday lunches accompanied by Gujarati pakoda kadhi. It is just a simple bowl of bulgur porridge is all I need to take me back to days when we’d eat so much, we couldn’t move an inch. Not to mention, an afternoon nap was definitely in order. Mums intention wasn’t to clean the vegetable tray as dad brought fresh veggies home every Sunday morning but my version of this porridge is to use all the tiny bits of veggies lying at the bottom of the tray so we have minimum wastage.
Thuli or bulgur comes from wheat that has been parboiled, dried and broken into tiny bits and are packed with loads of health benefits too – 1) they are nature’s natural source of fiber, 2) is high in protein, vitamin and magnesium and 3) has zero cholesterol or sugar. One of the best ways I have learnt from mom to cook bulgur is to soak them in water for atleast 30 minutes before using, a technique most Indians are familiar with as we often use for hard grains. You can even boil these for about 10-15 minutes but conventional method works the best for me.
While bulgur hasn’t received equal attention as has quinoa or other super foods, it deserves a place in your shopping list because it requires little cooking while also being a healthy choice and has so many uses – think of offhand grain salads like tabbouleh, pilaf to accompany chicken roast, healthier sweet treats with bulgur and jaggery, use up a batch in hearty bowls of soups and many more possibilities once you start experimenting.
- Bulgur or Thuli - 1 cup
- Rice - 1/4 cup
- Yellow moong dal or split green gram - 1/2 cup
- Red onion - 1 chopped
- Tomato - 1 chopped
- Spinach - 1 cup stalked and chopped
- Green peas - 1/4 cup
- Carrot - 1 peeled and chopped
- Garlic - 5 pods grated
- Ginger - 1 tbsp grated
- Cumin powder - 1 tbsp
- Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
- Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
- Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
- Green chilly - 1 deseeded and chopped
- Salt to taste
- Vegetable oil - 2 tbsp
Rise bulgur, split green gram and rice thrice with fresh water and soak for atleast 30 mins before use. You can even boil bulgur separately for 10 mins prior use.
Chop all the vegetables and keep aside.
Heat oil in a deep cooking vessel. Fry ginger and garlic for a few seconds, not letting them burn.
Add onions and chopped green chilly. Saute until translucent. Throw in all the spices (red chilli powder, cumin, coriander and turmeric). Mix for a couple of minutes.
Mix in tomatoes, salt, spinach, green peas and carrot and cook for a few minutes.
Add the soaked rice, bulgur and split green gram and about 3 cups of water. Cook for 10-15 minutes on medium flame, mixing occasionally so it doesn't stick at the bottom of the pan.
Once cooked turn off the gas and cover for 5 minutes before serving.
Khichdi is usually wet and runny, so make sure it doesn't go dry before cooking. Even if it does, add some water to keep it moist.