Delicious VEG staples #2: Khichari

There are so many great reasons to eat more veg, more often. Reducing GHG emissions, improving health, saving money and preventing animal suffering are just some of the reasons for the growing interest in plant-based meals.

It can be a little daunting to get started - particularly if you usually cook with meat. To give you some inspiration, the VEG Action Group will be introducing you to some of our members and their favourite tried and tested plant-based staples. These are the kind of dishes that are completely nourishing but require little thought or effort and are cheap and/or easy to produce. Something to cook when running late home from work, or when you just don’t have the energy to go all out!

In the second post of our series, I asked a new VEG action group committee member Lucy Campbell to share with us a little about herself and her staples.

Lucy cooking her Sunday staple: Kichari

Lucy cooking her Sunday staple: Kichari

Tell us a little about yourself…

My partner and I did the tree change to Woodend 2 years ago. We now have a 20 month old toddler who I care for full time.  I quit my job at Swinburne in Hawthorn because the commute was too much, and now I love hanging out with my baby, my dog, the chickens, sheep and alpacas, and tending the veggie patch.

I stopped eating meat since living in a Brisbane sharehouse with vegetarians 24 years ago, and have never looked back.  After learning about the dairy industry recently, I'm trying to transition to a solely plant based diet but I find I have to be organised. 

I signed up to the MRVEG group at the start of this year.  I volunteer at the MRVEG stall at the Woodend markets each month.  I love that everything about the stall has been considered and falls in line with the group's ethos.  The sustainability aspect is applied to everything they do.  There's no waste.  One of us takes the food scraps for the compost or the chickens. 

We know so much more about animals and their sentience being so similar to humans; the cruelty of factory farms and the environmental damage; and just the fact that cooking veggies is so delicious, creative and good for you; it’s a no-brainer to eat less meat. 

I think these days it's pretty clear why people take up a vegetarian / vegan diet. We know so much more about animals and their sentience being so similar to humans; the cruelty of factory farms and the environmental damage; and just the fact that cooking veggies is so delicious, creative and good for you; it's a no-brainer to eat less meat. 

What are the main considerations you have when planning your meals?

Seasonal food preferably, what is growing in the garden. Generally quick meals as I have to prep a plain one for my baby and then another for my partner and me.

What are your favourite ingredients to work with and why?

Lentils, particularly Puy, beluga and red lentils.  Red lentils are very quick, and I've noticed that when I use them in a dinner dish I wake up with really good energy the next morning.

Can you tell us a little about one of your staple dishes?

Khichari.  A fairly standard Indian dish.  It's the best thing for a Sunday night dinner because you can use absolutely any vegetable that's lying, perhaps a bit sad, at the bottom of your fridge.  It's an easy recipe, and delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup red split lentils

  • 1 cup basmati or other long grain white rice

  • 3 tablespoons oil or ghee (dairy)

  • 1/3 cup cooked unsalted cashews

  • 2 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1 tablespoon fresh hot green chilli minced

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

  • 1 teaspoon tumeric

  • 3 cups mixed vegetables, cut into large chunks

  • 5-6 cups of water

  • 1.5 teaspoons salt

  • 1 tablespoon oil or butter

  • 2/3 cup cooked green peas

  • 1 cup tomatoes peeled and chopped

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves

Instructions

Heat 3 tabs of oil and fry cumin seeds, fresh chili, fresh ginger and tumeric. Then toss in 3 cups of chopped veg, add 1 cup of rice and 1/3 cup red lentils, give it a good stir.  Then pour in 5-6 cups of water, bring to the boil then partially cover and simmer 30 mins. At the end you can stir thru cooked peas, some salt, and top each serve with chopped tomatoes, fresh coriander and toasted cashew nuts. 

Is there anything you’d like to cook more of and why?

I'd like to 'cook' more raw food, just because I've seen lots of raw food eaters glowing with health and defying their age!  I also feel more energetic after eating well-made raw food.

Thanks so much for sharing your staples with us Lucy! If you, our readers, have a favourite staple you’d like to share, get in contact with Claire at veg@mrsg.org.au.