When Swiggy released its ‘What did your City Eat’ list for the year 2021, the data suggested Mumbaikars ordered Dal Khichdi the most…here’s low down on the trend…
Dal Khichdi when it was announced as the national dish of India, a few years ago, there was much discussion on its relevance across the length and breadth of the sub-continent. And, after considerable deliberation it was accepted hands down as the dish that has its presence across the country with its little variations.
Indian cuisines have always leveraged on the lentils for their protein consumption. Protein-rich lentil cooked with rice – also substituted with millets if one wants to avoid the simple carbs is as basic to Indian cooking as it can get. That’s in short a quick recipe for Dal Khichdi. A bit of a seasoning using onions, at times the inimitable ginger-garlic paste, mustard seeds and zeera, some green chillies and ghee – voila – the national favourite is ready. In south pepper is used too, and it becomes enough fierce to deal with the winter chills.
This love for khichdi caught the eye of quite a few entrepreneurs who have found a way to turn this into a sustainable and scalable business model.
Hamza Bandookwala, who founded Comfort Curries, a network of home chefs in Mumbai mentions how each of the cuisine imparts its uniqueness to Khichdi. “It’s amazing how there are so many variations. As a Bohri we eat what we call Dal Chawal Palida. Parsis, Bengalis, Sindhis – each have their own delicious versions of this dish, and that’s the beauty of it.”
“While dishes like biryani are for weekend extravaganza, Khichdi is more like comfort food. Perhaps, that is the reason it is the most ordered dish,” says Hamza.
In addition to being the go -to comfort food, At Indian homes, Khichdi is considered healthy and easy to digest, and often prescribed for the sick and recovering. As the world is moving towards health food, and interestingly also towards comfort food according to recent studies, it is indeed evident that India takes to Dal Khichdi. And the new age entrepreneurs see the opportunity and they create delicious versions of the good old Khichdi.
Nagpur based Khichadiwala is probably the first exclusively Khichdi serving brand in India. They have on their menu nineteen varieties including Tomato Spinach Khichdi – popular during winters, Garlic Khichdi and even Italian version of Risotto. Manish Khanchandani and Sagar Bhajani started Khichadiwala in 2014, and they presently have their kitchens in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. "We did a small workshop to explore the idea of selling healthy food in fast food format. We realised it is Khichdi that has the potential,” shares Manish.
He adds, “This is not a seasonal trend. It will stay. Our main target are the ones who are home sick, who eat Khichdi as that connects them to nostalgia. This is for those who want to eat guilt free comfort food. And, its healthy.”
In the year 2020, Ola Foods started the much successful Khichdi Experiment, after extensive market research and discovering the increasing demand for home-cooked food. The menu is indeed an experiment with a variety of flavours and ingredients worked into the otherwise simple recipe.
Ola Food during their research found out that there are atleast 200 varieties of Khichdi in India.
Anshul Khandelwal, Head of Marketing, Category and Revenue, Ola Foods, in a conversation with Business Line said: “Migrant working professionals aged 25 to 35, as well as young couples who have just moved to new cities, are health-conscious but do not have regimental diets. They want to be mindful but they don't want to give up on the taste and excitement of food. We are serving them mostly.”
For the Mumbaikars, who have been ordering Khichdi the most, and those travelling to this buzzing city in India, popular website
www.missmalini.com includes in its top Khichdi places from Mumbai – Quarter Canteen, Bandra; The Bombay Havelli, Sindhful, Soam, Chowpatty and Jaihind Lunchhome outlets.