April 22, 2004
k e d g e r e e
SECOND EDITION, 1989
(kdri) Forms: 7 kits-, ketch-, quiche-, kichery, cutcherry, 8 kitcheree, -aree, 9 kedjerie; keg-, kedg-, kidgeree, khichri. [Hind khichr, Skr. k'rsara �dish of rice and sesamum�.]
a. An Indian dish of rice boiled with split pulse, onions, eggs, butter, and condiments; also, in European cookery, a dish made of cold fish, boiled rice, eggs, and condiments, served hot. Also transf. and fig.
1662 J. DAVIES tr. Mandelslo's Trav. 81 Their ordinary Diet being onely Kitsery, which they make of Beans pounded, and Rice, which they boile together... Then they put thereto a little Butter melted. 1698 FRYER Acc. E. India & P. 81 Their delightfullest Food being only Cutchery, a sort of Pulse and Rice mixed together. Ibid. 320 Here is a great Plenty of what they call Ketchery. 1727 A. HAMILTON New Acc. E. Ind. I. xiv. 161 Some Doll and Rice, being mingled together and boyled, make Kitcheree. 1816 �QUIZ� Grand Master 51 The servant enters with a dish, Containing kedgeree and fish. 1867 BP. FRASER in Hughes Life (1887) 143 Kedgeree is a capital thing for breakfast. 1879 MRS. A. G. F. E. JAMES Ind. Househ. Managem. 88 Kegeree is composed of the remains of cold fish, and is usually a breakfast dish. 18.. MRS. BEETON Househ. Managemt. 140 Kegeree.
fig. 1909 in WEBSTER. 1928 R. CAMPBELL Wayzgoose ii. 48 English, art, music, vegetables, and song, All to the same consistency you mash. Your lifea Kedgeree! Your minda hash! 1938 Archit. Rev. LXXXIII. 3/1 Winstanley's Eddystone was a remarkable kedgeree of bits and pieces--its builder had previously been known chiefly for some remarkable waterworks in Hyde Park. 1968 R. WEST Sk. Vietnam ii. 65 Furniture, clothes, shrines..were heaped on to the lorry in a gigantic kedgeree.
b. Comb., as kedgeree-pot, a large earthenware pipkin, used for holding water and cooking.
a1826 HEBER Jrnl. (1828) I. 123 On the Hoogly very large nets..are used, with Kedgeree pots for floats. 1830 MOUNTAIN in Mem. (1857) vi. 117 A small raft of Kedgeree pots. 1839 THACKERAY Major G. i, To boil them in kedgeree pots.
s.v. Kedgeree, Kitchery
From Sir Henry Yule, Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive. New ed. edited by William Crooke, B.A. London: J. Murray, 1903.
KEDGEREE, KITCHERY , s. Hind. khich&rtod;i�, a mess of rice, cooked with butter and da�l (see DHALL), and flavoured with a little spice, shred onion, and the like; a common dish all over India, and often served at Anglo-Indian breakfast tables, in which very old precedent is followed, as the first quotation shows. The word appears to have been applied metaphorically to mixtures of sundry kinds (see Fryer, below), and also to mixt jargon or lingua franca. In England we find the word is often applied to a mess of re-cooked fish, served for breakfast; but this is inaccurate. Fish is frequently eaten with kedgeree, but is no part of it. ["Fish Kitcherie" is an old AngloIndian dish, see the recipe in Riddell, Indian Domestic Economy, p. 437.]
c. 1340.--"The munj (Moong) is boiled with rice, and then buttered and eaten. This is what they call Kishri�, and on this dish they breakfast every day."--Ibn Batuta, iii. 131.
c. 1443.--"The elephants of the palace are fed upon Kitchri."--Abdurrazza�k, in India in X Vth Cent. 27.
c. 1475.--"Horses are fed on pease; also on Kichiris, boiled with sugar and oil; and early in the morning they get shishenivo" (?). --Athan. Nikitin, in do., p. 10.
The following recipe for Kedgeree is by Abu'l Fa&ztod;l:-
c. 1590.--"Khichri, Rice, split d�l, and gh�, 5 ser of each; 1/3 ser salt; this gives 7 dishes."--A�i�n, i. 59.
1648.--"Their daily gains are very small, . . . and with these they fill their hungry bellies with a certain food called Kitserye." --Van Twist, 57.
1653.--"Kicheri est vne sorte de legume dont les Indiens se nourissent ordinairement. "--De la Boullaye-le-Gouz, ed. 1657, p. 545.
1672.--Baldaeus has Kitzery, Tavernier Quicheri [ed. Ball, i. 282, 391].
1673.--"The Diet of this Sort of People admits not of great Variety or Cost, their delightfullest Food being only Cutcherry a sort of Pulse and Rice mixed together, and boiled in Butter, with which they grow fat." --Fryer, 81.
Again, speaking of pearls in the Persian Gulf, he says: "Whatever is of any Value is very dear. Here is a great Plenty of what they call Ketchery, a mixture of all together, or Refuse of Rough, Yellow, and Unequal, which they sell by Bushels to the Russians."--Ibid. 320.
April 21, 2004
Anurima says kichidi, also spelled khichdi, kichari, khichudi, kanji, and many other ways (and also known as pongal), is monsoon food--a soft, warm, soothing way to start a cold wet day. A hearty nourishing one-dish meal for large gatherings, it is also festival and temple food. Rice and dal are cooked together with spices until thick and served with chopped raw onion and fresh coriander, a wedge of lemon, ghee, and lime pickle. Mix it all together on your plate with your fingers. Accompany with potatoes or eggplant rubbed with turmeric and fried in mustard oil.
Anurima says our place smells like her grandmother's house in Calcutta. This winter, we bundled up in shawls and sat with hot water bottles on our laps to fend off the damp chill in our Bowery loft during a particularly severe Manhattan winter. It was in its way New York's monsoon season and a call for kicheri. My first effort, a combination of brown rice and red lentils in my favorite cast-iron pot, was too loose. Anurima made a second batch, using red lentils and Basmati rice, which was perfect.
Then, the rice cooker arrived. The first thing I made in the rice cooker was kichidi, this time with brown rice and split peeled mung dal. The technique? Place all the ingredients in the cooker about 5 hours before you want the cooking to start, set the machine for brown rice and the timer to complete the cooking at the desired hour. Six hours later "neuro fuzzy," as the machine is affectionately known in our kitchen, sang its innocent robotic tune and turned itself to warm. We ate from what seemed like a bottomless mass of primal substance for days. With the press of the reheat button, the kicheri's soothing warmth returned. Chopped fresh dill, mint, and coriander, chopped onion, and a good squeeze of lemon gave the by now familiar mass a piquant freshness.
Khichadi can be simple or elaborate. You can include some or all the spices at the outset or temper some of the spices and add them just before serving. You can fry the spices in the bottom of the rice cooker and then add the other ingredients, as long as you reset the rice cooker to start all over again. If the recipe calls for spinach or peas or other green vegetables that cook quickly, I would fold them into the hot rice near the very end, so that they do not overcook, particularly with brown rice. You can make khichdi in a pressure cooker, but you cannot time it and keep it warm that way or add things at intervals, though the pressure cooker is fast, "traditional," and cooks the kicheri to a nice texture.
I've never understood the rice cooker, which is standard equipment where rice is eaten daily, until last week. New fuzzy logic cookers capable of cooking a wide variety of rices--white, brown, sticky, mixed--and completing the cooking at a pre-set time tempted me to give the rice cooker a try. So, what's the fuzzy logic? You tell the cooker what kind of rice and when you want it ready. Then, you place the rice and required amount of water into the cooker and, based on the weight and temperature of what is in the pot, it figures out what to do in relation to the settings for type of rice and time to be ready. Pretty clever.
I'm not big on appliances. No microwave. No toaster oven. No dishwasher. Our orange juicer, Krups expresso maker, Waring blender, behemoth Champion juicer, and industrial strength Kitchen Aid mixmaster, all good ideas at the time, are rarely if ever used, although our toaster, coffee grinder, electric kettle, food processor, immersion blender, electric grill, and pressure cooker get a pretty good workout.
As I write this, I imagine Harvey Molotch in the room and his book Where Stuff Comes From: How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers and Many Other Things Come to Be As They Are. Harvey and I co-taught a course, Objects, Desire, and Consumption, at New York University last year, a singular pleasure. Since then, I have been even more acutely aware of the objects in my life, the rice cooker among them.
The Zojirushi NS-ZAC18 10 Cups Rice Cooker is one sleek baby, an armless, legless creature, a kitchen pet, almost animate, certainly intelligent, "neuro fuzzy," as in logic, not fur. A retractable electric cord, carrying handle that folds down, non-stick liner that comes out, and amphibian face, this cooker sings when the rice is ready. Anthony is in the kitchen and just piped up, "It needs to have wheels and a leash. It looks like it wants to be mobile." Matt says that it's an anime character. All this creature is missing is its ears.
What to cook? That's next.