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Vivek Singh’s lentil and basmati kichri

Desperately seeking dinner inspiration? We've got a delicious modern-Indian dish for you from celeb chef Vivek Singh, plus 63% off perfectly paired wines.

DINING AT HOME IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

In Ballia, where my father’s ancestral village is, kichri with aubergine relish (or chokha as the relish is called) is a permanent fixture for lunch every Saturday. It can’t be anything else. Sometimes, they serve a rich, spicy mutton curry with it, but otherwise it’s just this. Comforting and restorative, it’s particularly good on a rainy day. This is in memory of my father, who loved it.

The recipe comes in two steps: the accompanying burnt aubergine relish, and the kichri itself.

Burnt Aubergine Relish

Ingredients

  • 4 large aubergines
  • 12 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 60ml mustard oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
Wines
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Method

Using the tip of a sharp knife, cut gashes in the aubergine skin and stuff 3 cloves of garlic into each aubergine. Smear with a little mustard oil, then burn the aubergines over an open flame on the hob for 20–30 minutes, turning frequently to char each one evenly on all sides. (If you have an electric hob, place the aubergines in a roasting tin, drizzle with a little olive oil and roast in the oven at 200°C/180°C fan/Gas mark 6 for 30 minutes.) Once cooked, the aubergines should be soft, with the flesh yielding easily to the touch. When the aubergines are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins. Chop the flesh and combine it with the onion, chillies, salt and coriander, and the remaining mustard oil. Mix well and set aside.

Lentil and Basmati Kichri

Ingredients

  • 120g basmati rice
  • 240g red lentils (or a mixture of red, toor and yellow moong lentils)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1½ teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 100g cauliflower, cut into 1cm florets
  • 1 carrot, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 200g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 100g petit pois or frozen garden peas
  • 4 tablespoons ghee (optional)
Wines
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Method

Wash the rice and lentils in several changes of water, then leave to soak for 10–15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large pan, with 2 litres of water. Add the turmeric, bring to the boil, then remove any scum from the surface and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook for 25 minutes, until the lentils are completely cooked and collapsed, adding more boiling water from time to time, if the pan looks dry. (The rice will be thoroughly cooked by the time the lentils are done.)

Meanwhile, in a large wok, heat the oil, add the cumin seeds and dried chilli and fry for 1 minute, until the chilli changes colour and the cumin seeds darken and crisp up. Add the chopped garlic, let it colour until golden, then add the onion. Cook for 10–12 minutes, until the onion is lightly golden, then add the cauliflower, carrots and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook for 6–8 minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook for a further 6–8 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.

Add the cooked rice and lentils to the vegetable pan and mix well. Add more boiling water if it seems too thick, then add the peas and simmer for a couple of minutes, until the rice and lentils are heated through. Remove from the heat and divide the kichri among 4 serving bowls. In a frying pan, heat the ghee to smoking point and pour it over the kichri to scald the top (you can skip this bit if you like). Serve immediately with the relish.

This recipe is taken from the cookbook, Chefs at Home. It is a compilation of simple dishes from the nation’s most renowned chefs, which they prepared at home during lockdown when there were limited ingredients available. 100% of all royalties go to Hospitality Action.

Suggested wine pairings

Reserve de Pierre Viognier 2020
£8.99 from Naked Wines or

Viognier works perfectly with spicy Asian cuisine due to the natural sweetness of the grape, and this bottle from 4th generation winemaker Pierre Latard is a no brainer. A Master graduate in viticulture (that’s grapevine cultivation if you’re not fluent in vino lingo), what Pierre doesn’t know about winemaking isn’t worth knowing.

Available in our exclusive Muddy Luxe Case of 12 bottles for £75 (RRP £202.38), all matched perfectly with a recipe from our Dining at Home series.

Arabella Viognier 2020
£6.99 from Naked Wines or

Fancy award-winning wine with your Asian cuisine? Then this Viognier, from father and son duo Stephen and Jamie de Wet, should do nicely. It scooped up a Bronze medal at the International Wine Challenge 2020 and is so gorgeously fragrant with apricot and honeysuckle, it’ll make your mouth water just smelling it.

Available in our exclusive Muddy Mixed Case of 12 bottles for £50 (RRP £140.88), all matched perfectly with a recipe from our Dining at Home series.

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