This rice, lentil and chicken recipe is a really great way to pack lots of protein into your child’s meal in one go. People of South-Asian origin will be familiar with this; we call rice and lentils cooked this way “khichri”, and every familiy has their own version of how they cook it. Some use certain lentils only, and others use a mix; some people add tomatoes, others don’t, etc!
This is my version for my soon-to-be 20 months old daughter Khadija. I cook the rice in chicken stock, and shred some of the chicken used to make the stock, and add that too for an extra protein punch! I add more liquid than I would if I was making this for adults, so the rice gets extra soft. I also portion this out and freeze in mini ziplock bags, so its a great one for when you’re doing batch cooking!
For the chicken stock:
1-2 bone-in pieces of chicken (such as leg and thigh)
½ a small onion, peeled
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 inch piece of ginger peeled
1 small carrot, peeled and halved
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp each of peppercorns and cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 cardamom pods
For the rice:
1 cup of basmati rice
3 tbsp moong lentils (the de-husked, yellow version)
2 tbsp masoor lentils (red)
1 tbsp butter
½ an onion, sliced
¼ tsp each of peppercorns and cloves
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp minced garlic
A pinch of turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup shredded chicken*
*See recipe below
To make the stock:
Simply put all of the ingredients in a medium-sized pot, and generously cover with water. Cook on a high flame until the water comes to a rolling boil, then cover and cook on a low flame for approximately one hour.
Strain the liquid, putting aside the chicken pieces and discarding the other ingredients. You will need two cups of stock for this recipe. If you have any more leftover, you can simply freeze it for another day.
Shred the chicken and set aside 1/4 cup to use in this recipe. You can add more if you like, but I wanted the lentils to be the star of the show here, not the chicken, so I felt that 1/4 cup was enough!
To make the rice:
Start by putting the rice and lentils in a bowl. Then cover them with cold water, and set aside to soak for 30 minutes (no more, no less!)
Then, heat the butter with a splash of oil in a medium-sized pot, and add the onions. Give them a good stir and make sure there is enough “grease” for the onions, then cook until they turn a golden colour. You’ll have to keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. If you notice they’re browning unevenly and too quickly, add a splash of hot water from your kettle.
Add the peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon and garlic once the onions are nicely brown, and stir some more. Then throw in the shredded chicken, turmeric powder and salt. Give it all a good mix, then add the stock and let it come to a boil.
By now, 30 minutes should have passed, so drain the rice and lentils and add them to the boiling liquid. Wait until everything comes to a boil once more, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and lower the heat to as low as it can possibly go. Leave untouched for 15 minutes.
Fluff up the rice with a fork when ready!