The term Khichdi (Khicṛī)(Urdu: کھچڑی) is derived from Sanskrit खिच्चा khiccā, a dish of rice and legumes.
Some divergence of transliteration may be noted in the third consonant in the word khicṛī. The sound is the retroflex flap [ɽ], which is written in Hindi with the Devanagari letter ड़, and in Urdu script with the Perso-Arabic letter ڑ.
In Hindi-Urdu phonology, the etymological origin of the retroflex flap was /ɖ/ when it occurred between vowels. Hence in Devanagari the letter ड, representing /ɖ/, was adapted to write /ɽ/ by adding a diacritic under it. In Urdu script, the phonological quality of the flap was represented by adapting the letter ر, representing /r/, with a diacritic added above it to indicate the retroflex quality.
Although in IAST the Hindi letter ड़ is transliterated as <ṛ>, popular or nonstandard transliterations of Hindi use <d> for this sound, because etymologically it derives from ड /ɖ/. The occurrence of this consonant in the word khicṛī has given rise to two alternative spellings in English: khichdi, which reflects its etymology, and khichri, which reflects its phonology.
The Greek ambassador of Seleucus mentioned that rice with pulses is very popular among people of South Asia. The Moroccan traveller, Ibn Battuta mentions kishri as a dish in India composed of rice and mung beans, during his stay circa 1350. Khichdi is described in the writings of Afanasiy Nikitin, a Russian adventurer who travelled to the South Asia in the 15th century. Khichdi was very popular with the Mughals, especially Jahangir. Ain-i-Akbari, a 16th-century document, written by Mughal Emperor, Akbar’s vizier, Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, mentions the recipe for khichdi, which gives seven variations. There is an anecdotal story featuring Akbar, Birbal and khichdi.
Khichdi is a very popular dish across Pakistan and North India. The dish is widely prepared in many Indian states like Gujarat, Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and Maharashtra. Vegetables such as cauliflower, potato, and green peas are commonly added. A popular variant in coastal Maharashtra is made with prawns. Khichdi is also a favourite campfire food, owing to the convenience of being able to cook the dish in a single simmering pot.
In other regions, the khichdi is commonly served with a side of kadhi, and often accompanied with papadum.
In Bengal, the dish is known as Bengali: খিচুড়ী, khichuri, Sylheti: Kisuri and is considered a rich gourmet delicacy. Often seasoned with ghee (clarified butter) and achaar (oil-based pickle), it is accompanied with meat curries, fish, potato chops, eggplants and omelettes. The rice is commonly cooked and served on rainy days. It is a staple for holy ceremonies and as an offering to God.
Cooks and homemakers often prepare this dish with many ingredients mixed with it. That is one of the reasons the idiom joga khichuri is used in Bangla to mean "a mess".
A sticker version of the rice, similar to haleem, is traditionally served to children and sick people. It is the first solid that babies are introduced to. Rice and lentils are simmered till mushy, seasoned with turmeric and salt, and fed to infants to introduce them to "adult" food. The elderly and sick, especially those having stomach problems, are served with the rice as it is easily digestible compared to other dishes which involve more meat and spices.
Khichdi is also very popular in Bihar. It is made with rice, dal, and garam masala, cooked into a semi-paste like consistency and eaten with lots of ghee, baigan ka bharta, aaloo ka bharta (mashed potato with onions, green chilli, salt and mustard oil), tomato chutney (blanched tomato, onion, green chilli, grated ginger and mustard oil), pāpaṛ, tilori (a fried snack), and mango pickle. It is customary to eat khichdi every Saturday in Bihar, and also at dinner during Makar Sankranti. A popular variation in khichdi in the winter months is the addition of cauliflower and green peas.
Khichdi is a very popular dish of Suratis in southern Gujarat. It is served with special kadhi and adon dishes such as Surati undhia and ringan na ravaiya.
In Bharuch district, Gujarat, khichdi is rice cooked with turmeric to make it yellow, served mixed with kadhi, a thin sauce made from gram flour, curry leaves, cumin, and mustard seeds and eaten as an evening meal.
Khichari is the traditional diet and a daily meal of Kutchi people, and they can make several varieties of dishes using khichari. Khichdi, when well cooked with a little oil, is considered a light and nutritious dish, and is especially popular amongst many who follow an ayurvedic diet or nature cure.
Khechidi is very popular in Odisha. There are varieties of khechidi in Odisha like adahengu khechidi (ginger-asafoetida khichdi), moong dal khichdi, etc. Adahengu khechidi is a popular dish in the Jagannath Temple as well. At home, moong dal khechidi and other khechidis are served with pampad, pickle, curd, aaloo bharta, or baigan bharta, raita, dalma, and chutney.
Bisi bele bath, 'hot lentil rice', is a famous variant of khichdi from Karnataka, a state in Southern India. Pongal, a dish similar to khichdi, is popular in Southern India, primarily in Tamil Nadu. It is primarily made of rice and lentils, and seasoned with black pepper, cumin, and cashews.
The Hyderabadi Muslim community, of the erstwhile Hyderabad State, in present day Telangana, Marathwada, and Hyderabad-Karnataka regions make Khichdi as a common breakfast dish, and is an important part of Hyderabadi cuisine. The dish is called "Khichdi, Kheema, Khatta" or other switch around versions of the previous, named after the three parts of the meal, Khichdi, Ground beef, and a sour sauce, made of tamarind and sesame. The Dish is commonly eaten with an omelete as well.
In Pakistan, Khichdi is prepared with rice and pulse or lentil and has salt as condiment. Khichdi could also have Baghaar where fried onion is added to the Khichdi. Khichdi is popular food for babies between 4 and 6 months when they start eating solid food since it is soft and has no spices. People with an upset stomach also prefer khichdi since it has no spices.
Khichra is similar to haleem, a meat dish, while khichdi is a vegetarian dish with rice and pulses or lentils and with no spices.