Kitchari (Khichdi)


The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 50 mins
Total: 70 mins
Servings: 3 to 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
181 Calories
4g Fat
32g Carbs
6g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 181
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 8mg 3%
Sodium 317mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 6g 20%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 37mg 186%
Calcium 77mg 6%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 461mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A rice and lentil dish, spiked with a tempering of ghee and spices, and sometimes veggies, khichdi (pronounced kheech-dee) has at least a hundred forms on the Indian subcontinent. It is a main course dish that has a risotto-like texture and turmeric stained color. One of the most interesting facts about the word “khichdi” is that it is so well known and loved that it has inspired an old Indian phrase “kya khichdi pak rahi hai?”, translating to “what are you scheming about?” 

In the present, khichdi is many things. It is the epitome of a convalescent meal, usually the first dish one eats after an international trip when the body wants something familiar and easy to digest; it’s a dish that requires no prep; and finally, it’s a dish whose ingredients (lentils and rice) are a mainstay in kitchens across the country.

The History of Khichdi

The Moroccan scholar and explorer Ibn Battuta traveled to the Indian subcontinent in the 14th century and observed that Indians ate khichdi—which he referred to as “kishri” for breakfast everyday. In the 1600s, French traveler Jean-Baptiste Tavernier referred to khichdi as “a peasant’s evening meal.” The Mughals had their own version, and so did the British who colonized the subcontinent thereafter. Thereby making khichdi the one Indian dish that caught the fancy of foreigners throughout history. 

In India, the roots of khichdi go back to mythology and therefore the timeline of its origin is ambiguous. According to historians, a version of khichdi is mentioned in an epic called Mahabharata, the events of which fall between the 9th and 8th centuries BCE. In the story, the five princes, the Pandavas, were fed khichdi by their common consort, Draupadi. 

The Many Faces of Khichdi

India has 28 states and as many cuisines, and khichdi has been adapted to all of them. Take for example the Bengali khichuri which is served to the Gods during the festival of Durga Puja. Uttrakhand’s Gharhwali khichdi has an addition of black sesame seeds. Keema khichdi from the South of India contains minced meat. Khichdi is as varied as it is ubiquitous. 

This khichdi recipe is a notch above the basic version of just lentils and rice, with an add-on of tempered spices and garlic.

Tips for Making Khichdi

  • You can pre-cook the rice and split pigeon peas ahead of time and keep them refrigerated for up to three days.
  • For the dried red chillies, you can use the small red chillies found at Indian markets (literally labeled “red chillies”) or, in a pinch, chiles de arból. Chiles de arból are spicier than most dried Indian red chillies, but because they are left whole they will not impart too much heat.
  • For the chilli powder, use an Indian brand, such as Laxmi (usually labeled “red chilli powder”). Cayenne pepper can be used in a pinch, but because it is hotter, cut the amount in half.
  • The ideal texture of a khichdi is soft but not too runny, so adjust water consistency while cooking accordingly. Remember that the khichdi will thicken as it cools, so you want it a little on the runny side before serving.
  • The ideal khichdi accompaniment is roasted papadums.

"I loved the complex flavors in the khichdi! The instructions are clear and easy to follow, and the preparation went smoothly. It's a colorful dish that makes a comforting and satisfying vegetarian main dish. It was delicious with warm naan and chutney." —Diana Rattray

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 cup basmati rice, soaked in enough water to cover for 15 minutes

  • 1 cup split yellow pigeon peas, soaked in enough water to cover for 30 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon ghee

  • 2 whole cloves

  • 1 stick cinnamon, about 1-inch

  • 2 small dried red chillies

  • 1 medium fresh green chilli, such as serrano, halved lengthwise

  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds

  • 10 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Roma tomatoes

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 2 teaspoons red chilli powder

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, more to taste

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make kitchari

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Drain, then rinse the rice and split yellow pigeon peas separately. Set aside. 

    A bowl of rinsed and drained split yellow peas, and a bowl of rinsed and drained rice

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Put a large saucepan of water to boil on high heat. Put a second large saucepan with 3 cups of water to boil on high heat. Add the rice to the first saucepan and the split pigeon peas to the saucepan with 3 cups of water. 

    A pot of split yellow peas in water, and a pot of rice in water

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Boil the rice, uncovered, on medium heat until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the rice.

    A mesh strainer with boiled rice

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Over low heat, simmer the split pigeon peas, uncovered, until softened, 20 to 25 minutes. Run an immersion blender through the mixture until coarse (it should not be perfectly smooth).

    A pot of cooked and blended split yellow peas

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, heat the ghee over medium heat. When the ghee is melted, add the cloves, cinnamon stick, dried red and fresh green chillies, and cumin seeds. Allow the spices to crackle and become fragrant, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.

    A large dutch oven with cloves, cinnamon stick, dried red and fresh green chillies, and cumin seeds cooking in ghee

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Add the garlic and onions and sauté until the onions turn translucent and the garlic is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

    A dutch oven with garlic and onions added to the cumin-chilli mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  8. Add the tomatoes and cook until they turn jammy, about 4 minutes.

    A dutch oven with tomatoes added to the garlic-cumin mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  9. Add the turmeric and chilli powder, stirring until well combined.

    Turmeric and chili powder added to the dutch oven with tomato-onion-cumin mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  10. Add the blended pigeon peas to the pot and stir until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add the water and salt. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture reduces to a thick, puréed soup-like texture, about 2 minutes. Taste and season with more salt as desired.

    A dutch oven with seasoned blended yellow split peas and water

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  11. Add the drained rice to the pot. Mix the rice into the lentils and add more water if the khichdi is too thick. Ideally, it should have a soupy risotto consistency. 

    Continue to cook to allow the flavors to mingle and the rice to finish cooking, 3 to 4 minutes more. Remove from the heat. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary.

    A dutch oven with rice and seasoned, blended yellow split pea mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  12. Garnish with coriander leaves and lemon juice before serving.

    A bowl of kitchari topped with coriander leaves and lemon juice

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

How to Store

Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat, adding a little water as needed.

Recipe Variations

  • You can add green peas, finely chopped carrots, and chopped French beans to the khichdi during step number 8, if you want it to be a bit more filling.
  • To make this recipe vegan, simply substitute a neutral oil for the ghee.