How to Make Kitri (aka Kitcheree) Part I
Kitri is a sadhu’s meal, because it’s a combination of rice and dal and vegetables all cooked in one pot. The sadhus, the holy men in India, since they have no home, are generally wandering, living a very simple life, and they don’t want to be bothered with cooking every day. They don’t have the time, and they don’t have the facility, so they make what is known as kitri, a combination of dal, rice and a variety of vegetables, whatever is available to them.
We have learned this preparation from our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, but because we’re not sadhus like in India, living beneath a tree, we have Americanized it to some degree.
Serves 10 – 12 hungry persons
4 cups long grain rice, washed and rinsed
3 cups American yellow split pea, washed and rinsed (American yellow split peas or Toor dal available from Indian grocer, or mung dal or American green split peas – whichever is available)
1-1/2 cups ghee
4 Tbsp whole cumin seeds
3 Tbsp whole fenugreek seeds
fresh or dried ginger, grated fine
2 heaping Tbsp Hansadutta’s world-famous spice mixture
3 gallons of water
2 handfuls sea salt
1 handful sugar
varieties of vegetables, chopped (brussels sprouts, red radishes, baby carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, yellow squash, string beans, asparagus, potatoes, etc.)
fresh cilentro, chopped
3 gallons water
Measure and wash rice and dal (generally, 1 part rice to 1 part dal) and if you have time, let soak for an hour or two to soften and allow for better expansion.
Place pot over moderate fire or heat.
Add ghee. The ghee permeates the entire preparation, makes it very rich and tasty for the poor sadhus who are wandering all day and night, preaching and chanting and dancing to Hare Krishna.
Add spices in order as listed (when the fenugreek begins to pop, add the ginger). Take care not to scorch the spices, but “brown” them to bring out their aroma.
Add rice and dal, and brown together with the spices for approximately 1 – 2 minutes.
Now add water, salt and sugar.
As it comes to boil, stir occasionally.
Wash and chop vegetables and cilentro, and add to the pot when the rice and dal have begun to boil.
When the mixture again comes to boil, turn down fire to lowest point, and cover. Allow to steam for 20-30 minutes to an hour. Stir once or twice, so as not to end up with a mass of rice and dal on the bottom and everything else on the top. Stir from the bottom of the pot up through the top. But be careful not to overdo it, or the kitri will turn to mush.
When we’re done with the preparations, we clean up. Real cook means as he goes, he cleans, puts everything back in place. I can’t stress enough about this. I mentioned, I think in one of the first videos, that keeping the kitchen clean, really clean, is 30% of cooking.
We think cooking means it should taste good and we eat it, but actually cooking means it should taste good, it should be very attractive – that means it should be clean – and it should be served very nicely. So three things: taste, how it looks and how it’s served. Why do we go to a restaurant? We could have the same thing at home. We go because we want to be served.
“You’ve got to serve somebody.” That’s a Bob Dylan song. “It may be the devil, it may be the Lord, but you’ve got to serve somebody.” So we, as devotees, our whole aim and the aim of this video for our guest viewers is to induce you to serve Krishna. You can serve Krishna just by cooking. You don’t have to go to the temple. You don’t have to spend an extraordinary amount of money.
When the kitri has finished cooking, before serving, offer to Krishna. Ideally on a very nice plate, a plate that is used only for Krishna. In my house we have silver plates. Silver is not expensive. In fact it’s probably cheaper than expensive china sold in America. Drop the china once and it’s gone forever. Silver just keeps increasing in value every year. A silver dollar is worth twenty dollars today. With one dollar you can’t buy a silver dollar. But with a silver dollar you can buy 20 paper dollars.
So silver, Krishna, offering, prasadam, Hare Krishna!