By the end of this essay, you can also make something like this.

Someday somebody told me over dinner that the story of my life is quite exciting and that I should share it with them. I hesitated from talking too much about my upbringing fearing people might judge me. And it is not just my life – I am sure my friends have fascinating stories to share too, but this is my blog, and you are here, so you might just read the whole thing, which is obviously about my experience because, as I said, this is my blog.

In this essay, I’m going to talk about rice and dal. I won’t talk about them separately. Instead, I’ll talk about khichdi – the dish you get by cooking rice and dal together. A quick search will tell you that one can make khichdi in numerous combinations. In this essay, khichdi refers to a simple dish of rice and dal. In fact, I’ll tell you how to cook khichdi in this essay. Skip to the last section if that is what you are here for.

I made khichdi a few days ago, which was delicious, by the way. That led me to think about why I like khichdi so much. And here I am, writing an essay on that subject. Perhaps, there are multiple reasons why I like khichdi, but one reason I can think of is growing up eating it. My earliest memories are of going to the Anganwadi center (where children learn the alphabet and numbers; think of it like a kindergarten) to collect khichdi in a steel tiffin box.

I would come home, pop the lid open, and tilt the tiffin box – just slightly to get enough khichdi on a plate. Someone told me people usually eat khichdi when they fall sick, which surprised me the first time. It now makes sense why they served me khichdi while I was in the ICU one time. It was delicious, I must tell you.

Apart from learning the mandatory stuff, one of my happiest memories from early school was the khichdi they served at the end of school. Those of us that attended the classes would sit in rows on the floor at the end of the school day and have a happy meal of khichdi. (We eventually got senior enough – I mean Class 5, and sat on the desk to eat instead of the floor). We took our plates to school for this purpose. (I had a steel plate with a beautiful pattern, which meant harder to clean. We did not use cleaning gels or anything for cleaning our plates, we used firewood ash – it is an excellent cleaning agent.)1

They even served egg curry on some days. My parents fed me quite well at home, but home food did not compare to the simple meals I got at school, which was khichdi on most days. Unfortunately, not everyone had enough to eat at home – some children went to school just for the one meal they got at the end of the school day. I suspect that is still the case even to this day. Years later, I found out that the food we got at school was not out of the principal’s generosity but through a government-run scheme.

The program is known as the Mid Day Meal Scheme, which makes sense because from what I can recall, we used to get khichdi or rice and eggs around mid-day. Sure, it wasn’t a three-course fancy meal, but it was a much-needed energy booster for school children. We had good conversations over these meals – about the Mughals, rivers in Bangladesh, our collective longing to learn the English language2, and cricket.

Someone said Akbar means mad fish. So, in Kaubru (my father tongue)3, Aa means fish, and gbor or kbor means a mad or lunatic person, hence Akbar became a mad fish. We would laugh endlessly about it and other words that meant something else in our language. We talked about rivers in Bangladesh because some poets we studied in school were born in modern-day Bangladesh, so naturally, some wrote about the rivers there.

The conversations about cricket were fun, too – we talked about our competitors (other villages) and how to beat them. We had elaborate discussions about who was going to do what. Then we would challenge these villages to a game that sometimes involved prize money. That is, we would pool some cash, usually about ₹20–₹50 per team, and the winning team gets all. We typically split the winnings or have a picnic (buy rice and vegetables and cook out together on the river bank.)

I used to play as a wicketkeeper because I obviously thought I was going to be as good as MS Dhoni, and copy Harbhajan’s bowling actions, and get hit for sixes. It was hilarious, AF. Someday someone came up with a rule saying wicketkeepers can’t bowl, which was the end of my rising career as a bowler.

How to cook khichdi

I’m no professional, but I’ve cooked khichdi enough times to be able to tell you how to cook it. Don’t let anyone tell you there is a right way; just go with the vibe.


  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 cup dal
  • $1/2$ onion, chopped or sliced (just don’t put the whole unsplit thing!)
  • 3 tomatoes (split them into $1/2^{N}$ such as $1/2, 1/4$ etc.)
  • 2 potatoes (split them into $1/4^{N}$ such as $1/4, 1/16$ etc.)
  • Spices (whole or paste or powder) and leftovers:
    • Chilli
    • Cumin
    • Turmeric
    • Whatever other spices you have at home. If you have a spice mix (garam masala or biryani masala), that is perfect!
    • Leftover vegetables (zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, etc.)

Follow these simple steps

  • Get a large pot (I mean pretty large because you never know when the rice, dal, and veggies might overflow. Better to be safe than sorry.)
  • Chop/dice any unchopped vegetables and wash them.
  • Take another bowl/pot, wash, and drain the rice and dal. You can wash them separately or together. However, you prefer. How many times you want to wash and drain the water is up to you.
  • Heat about two tablespoons of oil (If you have no idea what that means, pour oil to your satisfaction. I mean, you don’t want to swim in there, do you?)
  • If you have whole cumin seeds, now is the time to let them dance in the hot oil. If not, it’s okay.
  • Fry the onions.
  • Add the chopped veggies.
  • Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
  • Add salt generously. Don’t add too much; if you screw up royally, you can always add extra later.
  • Add the washed rice and dal.
  • Add 5 cups of water.
  • Once the pot starts boiling, put the lid on and wait.
  • Check once after about 13 minutes. You should see the rice and the dal opening up.
  • Add the spices to your liking.
  • If you followed carefully to this point, you should see your pot of khichdi thicken around this time.
  • Add 3 more cups of water, and put the lid back on.
  • Turn off the heat after about 5-7 minutes, remove the lid, and stir the whole thing one final time.
  • Enjoy your pot of khichdi!


  1. This is probably why I love doing the dishes. It is all starting to make sense now, LOL. 🫠 

  2. Learning to speak English is one of the most valuable skills I acquired in my life and one that I’m most proud of. 

  3. If you want to know more about my tribe from an official source, you can go here

Let's be friends

You can buy me a coffee. Just click on the cup on your screen.
You can also buy me a book instead.

Buy me a book

Subscribe to receive an update as soon as I write a new essay.

Subscribe to The Windmill

You can find me on other platforms too. Just follow the link below 😃

Connect elsewhere

For suggestions, corrections etc. please send me an email, or reach out on Twitter. You can buy me a coffee.