Kanji is a classic South Indian breakfast dish. Made by grandmas in India for centuries, it’s a humble breakfast dish that uses cheap and easily available daily ingredients to create a nutritious and comforting meal. It’s regarded as the ultimate comfort food, and the best version of this is one your mom or grandma makes :) You’ve probably heard of congee, the east Asian version. This is a staple across several parts of Asia, and even parts of Europe!
Kanji is essentially a rice, wheat, millets or any other hearty grain stewed in a lot of water to create a porridge. The low and slow cooking breaks down the grains into a pudding-like consistency. This porridge can then be flavored and spiced in innumerable ways.
If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s a treat! Despite its humble ingredients is still luxuriously creamy, silky and unctuous, and is ‘comfort in a bowl’. It is usually served as a breakfast food, but you can also eat it for lunch, dinner, or a snack. Also because of how comforting and nourishing it is, it’s a staple food if you’re sick too.
My recipe today uses steel cut oats, and is a simple Indian version. Using oats makes this a much quicker version, since oats tend to cook much faster than rice, millets or other grains.
It’s truly versatile because of the numerous ways you can top it. It can be served with any vegetable, curry, or toppings. It’s all about what you personally like. There’s no wrong way! :)
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups water (or vegetable stock)
1 tsp chopped ginger
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp coarse salt
any left over curry
any fresh herbs
a quick fresh salad of chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro and lemon juice
any type of dhal
-Depending on the grain used, the amount of liquid varies. For steel cut oats, a 1:3 ratio works perfectly.
-And speaking of oats, the hearty steel cut works best. Old fashioned rolled might work, but requires lesses water, and the result tends to be a bit looser. Instant oats and other processed oats just won’t work.
-If you’re using rice, the ratio of water is 1:5.
-For more flavor, you can use vegetable stock instead of water
–Also, the more frequently you stir, the more the grain will break down and become silky. So stay close, it’ll be worth it!
In a medium sized soup pot, place the measured oats, salt, ginger and black pepper. Toast the ingredients dry over medium heat for a couple of minutes.
Then add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once it begins to boil over (like pic 3) turn the heat to the lowest setting. Cover with a lid.
Let this cook on low heat for 20 minutes.
Uncover, and stir thoroughly.
Continue cooking for another 20 minutes, this time, stirring well frequently, like every 5 minutes. The more frequently you stir, the more the oats will break down and become silky.
Add a few extra tablespoons of water if it’s becoming too thick. The consistency should be a creamy and pourable. After a total of about 45 minutes of cooking, it should be done, with the oats cooked to super soft.
You can make it as soft or porridgy as you like. by continuing to cook and monitor the porridge.
Serve immediately, and top with any herbs or toppings.
I had my leftover crispy okra and potato curry from yesterday which is an incredible pairing with this kanji. Also mixed in some baby cilantro.
Incredibly satisfying and hearty !<3