Pearl Millet Khichdi / Bajra Khichdi / Bajrichi khichdi /

When the weather gets chilly, a hearty bowl of ‘bajrichi khichadi’ becomes the cosy quilt my tastebuds long for. Right now we could all do with some of the winter warmth in a bowl that is pearl millet khichdi, or bajrichi khichdi as we call it in Maharashtra. It’s a staple in rural parts where sustenance becomes vital on cooler days. Imagine a warm hug in a bowl with the comforting embrace of pearl millet. I feel incredibly grateful when I can cook something so rustic yet delicious in the comfort of my home. 

Khichadi or khichdi, in general, is a melange of rice, lentils and veggies that’s best enjoyed hot. It is such a versatile Indian dish and its flavour changes from region to region. In Maharashtra, it’s typically cooked with rice and mung dal. I grew up enjoying it with chana dal as well. For me, a khichdi or khichadi must include a few veggies. At a bare minimum potatoes are a must!

Pearl millet khichadi is a nutritious and delicious take on regular khichadi. Cooked with lentil(s),  pearl millet and veggies, it makes for a delicious gluten-free meal. No need to serve it with anything else, although a ladleful of kadhi would not go amiss. 

This pearl millet khichadi is

  • Vegan-friendly (just omit the ghee)
  • Gluten-free
  • Very adaptable and versatile. Can be as spicy or mild as you like
  • Has loads of veggies 
  • Wholesome
  • Full of the nutritious goodness of millet and lentil 
  • Helps warm the body outside in during the harsh winter

FAQ

How does pearl millet khichdi taste?
This khichdi tastes nutty, earthy, and wholesome and has a runny consistency. Pearl millet, also known as bajra, lends a distinctive earthy flavour with a slight sweetness. The millet grains have a satisfyingly robust texture, without being chewy. The overall taste is rich and satisfying, making it a delicious and nutritious choice, especially during the winter months. 

Do I need to soak the millet overnight for this khichadi?
You do need to soak the pearl millet ideally overnight for about 8-10 hours if you’re planning to cook it the next day, although soaking for 4-5 hours will also suffice. You’ll just need to cook a bit longer if you do the latter. 

As for the split mung dal, it doesn’t need pre-soaking though you do need to wash and rinse it.

How to store pearl millet khichdi?
Once cooked, I always decant it into an airtight-lidded container and refrigerate to eat it the next day. This khichdi tastes delicious when served immediately but the millet grains plump up and soften when stored which also tastes wonderful the next day.

It will keep for 3 to 4 days if refrigerated. I haven’t tried freezing it yet so please let me know if you have.  

Proportions and variations:
I cook this khichadi in several ways. I usually cook it with a pearl millet to mung dal ratio of 3:2. I add water which is 4 times the total quantity of millet and lentils combined. 

However, when I am cooking for my daughter, I use equal portions of pearl millet and mung dal as she likes her khichdi a tad more runny and mild. I also wash and rinse the split mung lentils and leave them to rest for a couple of hours before cooking for a velvety-runny consistency. The soaked mung dal completely melts in the pressure cooker giving the dish a lovely dal-infused consistency that she loves.

You can also use other lentils like split chana dal, just be sure to soak them for longer if you’re looking for a runny consistency.

Ingredients:

Whole pearl millet – While this millet isn’t readily available in local supermarkets, it can easily be sourced from Indian grocery stores in the UK. You can even buy it online here! Look for whole pearl millet grains. Make sure the millet has less husk and no stones. So far I’ve had no need to pick stones from the bajra or pearl millet shopped online or from Indian grocers in the UK. Also, the bigger the millet grains or ‘pearls’, the better the texture of the khichdi for me.

The soaked and cooked pearl millet grains have a wonderfully al dente mouthfeel especially when the khichdi is a little on the runny side. Next day, as the grains absorb more moisture they swell up and taste even more delicious. I’d highly recommend leftover khichdi so make plenty! 

Split mung lentil or mung dal – This is easily found even in UK supermarkets. Failing that, you can buy this lentil from any Indian grocery store or order online here. Make sure the lentils are free of weevils before cooking.  Split mung lentils cook faster and get completely infused with the pearly textures of the millet. I wash them before cooking. 

Vegetables – I use locally available seasonal vegetables in my khichdi such as carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, French beans, garbanzo/green chickpeas/green gram, frozen peas etc. I prefer frozen peas as they’re usually fresher than fresh peas by the time the produce reaches the supermarket shelves.

Cold-pressed rapeseed oil – Over the years I have come to learn that locally sourced rapeseed oil has less harmful compounds than sunflower oil when heated. Rapeseed oil is neutral flavoured so works well for Indian cooking. It has a reasonably high smoke point so it’s suitable for frying at high temperatures. Best of all, I feel great about using a locally produced oil. Look for cold-pressed on the label; this means that the oil has been extracted from the seeds naturally. I often use this brand.

Pav bhaji masala – I use this iconic Mumbai street food masala in my recipe. You can make your own pav bhaji masala if you have time. However, it’s easily available in most Indian grocery stores throughout the UK. You can also order it online here. This masala adds a lovely flavour to this khichadi.

Other spicesI have used kashmiri red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala and turmeric powder. You can buy them from either your local supermarkets or Indian grocery stores.


Red peanuts: These are optional. They impart a lovely nutty flavour to this khichadi.

Pearl Millet Khichdi / Bajra Khichdi / Bajrichi khichdi / बाजरीची खिचडी

Recipe by RieethaaCourse: MainCuisine: Maharashtrian, IndianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes
Total timeminutes

A rustic one-pot melange of pearl millet, mung dal and seasonal veggies, this ‘bajrichi khichadi’ is typically cooked during the winter months in rural Maharashtra, India. This khichadi recipe is a bit on the runny side and can be cooked in either a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. Here I have given the recipe for both. It’s best enjoyed with Maharashtrian kadhi. Serve hot with lime pickle and papad and you’ll be in seventh heaven.

Ingredients

  • 100g pearl millet

  • 100g split mung lentils (washed and rinsed)

  • 1 tbsp ghee

  • 2 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil

  • ½ tsp asafoetida

  • 1 tsp mustard seeds

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

  • 6-8 curry leaves (fresh or dried)

  • 2 green chillies, slit lengthways⁣

  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped⁣

  • ½ inch ginger, crushed to a paste

  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed to a paste⁣

  • ½ tsp turmeric powder⁣

  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder

  • 1 large tomato, chopped⁣

  • ½ tsp garam masala⁣

  • 1 tsp pav bhaji masala⁣

  • 4 small potatoes, peeled, washed and diced⁣ into big chunks

  • 1 large carrot, peeled, washed and cut into 2 inch batons⁣

  • 1 small cauliflower – washed and cut into large florets

  • 8-10 French beans, washed, trimmed and cut into 1½ inch pieces

  • 75g frozen peas⁣

  • 35g whole peanuts

  • 40g fresh chickpeas /garbanzo beans (optional) (fresh or frozen)

  • 800ml hot water

  • 25g chopped coriander⁣

  • Salt to taste⁣

  • For the second tadka/tempering:
  • 1 tbsp ghee

  • 3 garlic cloves (sliced)

  • 3-4 boriya mirch or whole round dried chillies

  • ½ tsp red chilli powder

  • 2-4 curry leaves


  • Equipment:
  • Pressure cooker or Instant Pot

  • Tadka ladle or a tempering pot

Directions

  • Wash, rinse and then soak the millet in lukewarm water overnight in a covered bowl. The recommended soaking time is 8-10 hours.
  • Wash, rinse and drain the split mung lentils and leave aside covered.
  • Cooking in a pressure cooker
  • Heat the oil and the ghee in a pressure cooker over a medium flame. Crackle the mustard seeds followed by the cumin seeds. Add the asafoetida. Throw in the curry leaves and the slit green chillies.
  • Sauté the onion along with the crushed ginger and garlic until golden. Thow in the whole peanuts, if using. Stir once.
  • Turn the flame down to low and add the turmeric and Kashmiri red chilli powder followed by the pav bhaji masala. Give it one stir and immediately tip in the chopped tomatoes and veggies  – the potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and French beans. Turn up the heat and mix everything together for a minute.⁣
  • Drain the soaked pearl millet and mix it in along with the split mung lentils. Stir for a minute. 
  • Add the hot water followed by the green chickpeas,⁣ frozen peas and garam masala. Season with salt, as needed. You may need 1 tbsp to balance the spices.
  • As soon as the water comes to a boil, put the lid on and pressure cook for 4 whistles.
  • Let the pressure cooker cool down before serving hot.

  • Cooking in an Instant Pot
  • Heat the oil and the ghee in Sauté mode on High setting. Crackle the mustard seeds followed by the cumin seeds. Add the asafoetida. Throw in the curry leaves and the slit green chillies.
  • Sauté the onion along with the crushed ginger and garlic until golden. Throw in the whole peanuts, if using. Stir once.
  • Switch the Sauté mode to Low and add the turmeric and Kashmiri red chilli powder followed by the pav bhaji masala.
    Give it one stir and immediately tip in the chopped tomatoes and veggies  – the potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and French beans. Switch to High in Sauté mode and mix everything for a minute.⁣
  • Drain the soaked pearl millet and mix it in along with the split mung lentils. Stir for a minute.
  • Add the hot water followed by the green chickpeas,⁣ frozen peas and garam masala. Season with salt, as needed. You may need 1 tbsp to balance the spices.
  • As soon as the water comes to a boil, pop the IP lid on. Press Cancel. Make sure the pressure release valve is not pressed down. Then press Pressure Cook on H1. Set Time to 7 minutes. Press Start.
  • When the pressure cooker finishes press Cancel. Allow the pressure to dissipate naturally or use the pressure release valve if you’re in a hurry. Open the lid and serve the khichdi hot.
  • Optional second tempering / tadka
  • You can optionally add a second tadka or tempering. Heat the ghee in a ladling tadka pan or any small pan. Throw in the garlic, dried red chillies, and curry leaves. Stir for 15 seconds using a tablespoon. Switch off the flame. Add the red chilli powder. Pour the tempering over the hot khichdi. Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped coriander, if you must.

Notes

  • 1. If you don’t like the robust texture of pearl millet and find it a bit heavy to digest, then you can coarsely grind the millet after soaking. This will lose the pearly texture and make it more palatable.
  • 2. The millet-to-lentil ratio can be adjusted to your taste. See my notes above the recipe. However, ensure the hot water is always 4 times the total quantity of millet and lentils used.
  • 3. To keep the dish vegan, simply swap ghee with oil.
  • 4. If you can’t find pav bhaji masala, omit it. However, the taste may not be the same
  • 5. The minimum soaking time needed for pearl millet is 4 hours in hot water. You may need to pressure cook for 5 whistles or increase the pressure cooking time in the Instant Pot to 8 minutes.
  • 6. Adjust the number of green chillies and red chilli powder to your liking. This recipe is less fiery. However, should you want to amp up the spice levels, use the optional second tempering mentioned in the recipe. 

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2 Comments

  1. Hello Rieethaa,
    I tried this recipe yesterday and it turned out to be so good. I went a little light on the spices but it still turned out great. Reminded me of my aunt's recipe 🙂 I had forgotten how she used to make it and it was too late to call India! Your recipe came to the rescue. Thank you so much! Keep doing what you're doing! Hugs!

    • Hi Nirupama,

      Thank you for trying this recipe and for sharing your valuable feedback. I am so pleased to know that it turned out well. It means a lot to me. Thank you ever so much.

      Rieethaa

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