NEW DELHI —
Indian cuisine is often identified with spicy curries and a range of kebabs, but the government wants to propel a staple dish made with rice and lentils across the global stage. The dish recently came under the spotlight as a team of leading Indian chefs prepared a record 918 kilograms of the meal, called “khichdi,” at the World Food India Conference in New Delhi.
This dish, which top Indian chefs steam cooked in a giant wok in the heart of New Delhi, was no gourmet preparation. But the traditional dish has been prepared for centuries in homes across the diverse country with rice, lentils and sometimes a sprinkling of vegetables and other grains.
Calling it a super food associated with health and nutrition, the government promoted “khichdi” as “Brand India food” at the recent World Food India Conference.
Oozing confidence about popularizing it across the world, Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi points out that “khichdi” was as popular on tables in erstwhile palaces as in ordinary kitchens.
“If paella from Spain can be global then why not 'khichdi'? This has health benefits, it has wellness, it is a detox food, it is a royal food. It deserves a global platform and recognition,” he said.
The selection of the humblest dish among Indian cuisines has raised many eyebrows among those who question if global palates will relish the culinary experience of what most Indians associate not with indulgence but comfort food.
Chef Imtiaz Qureshi is optimistic there is room for innovation to suit all tastes.
“Khichdi can be made with mutton, fish, chicken. You can also add whatever vegetables you like, Indian or Western, from broccoli to zucchini to capsicum,” he said.
The 918 kilograms of “khichdi” prepared on Saturday has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records. However it remains to be seen whether it makes its mark in the world. But for the time being the humble dish is getting the attention and appreciation it has seldom enjoyed in ordinary homes.