Porridge for breakfast usually brings to mind a warm bowl of oats topped with some sliced bananas, raisins and drizzle of maple syrup - delicious, filling and nutritious.
As we move down the globe, in the direction of South Asian countries, the word porridge changes in manifestation. It could be made from either rice, lentils, broken wheat or oats. Moreover, with the variants come distinct changes in flavouring and condiments used.
I’m used to the Indian rice-based ‘kanji’, lentil-based ‘khichdi’ and wheat-based ‘daliya’. In fact, a porridge from rice left to rest overnight and mildly re-cooked is considered a wonderfully cooling meal on a summer morning. Recently Bengal’s traditional ‘Panta Bhat’ or fermented rice porridge was quite the internet rage after an Australian MasterChef contestant made the dish and wowed the judges.
However, personally, I have never favoured the dish much, that is until I discovered Dakjuk or Korean Chicken Porridge that is more of a winter meal than a summer dish. It is full-bodied, clean and perfect when you want a soupy meal on a chilly evening. I must add that Koreans primarily consume it for breakfast. That’s the beauty of food, you can adapt.
So, recently, as I wondered what to make after a long day at work, especially as the air was a tad nippy, Dakjuk came to mind. It is essentially rice cooked in chicken stock with vegetables, seasoned with garlic and pepper. I have adapted the recipe, as time is of essence, especially when dinner needs to appear in about 45 minutes. Therefore, here goes…
Adapted Dakjuk Recipe
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
2 cups cooked rice (I went with Basmati)
3 cups chicken stock (Note: I cooked 250 gms of chicken breast with hot water, along with 2 cloves of garlic, half a carrot, 1 bay leaf and half an onion. This takes about 25 to 30 minutes to be well done, but I prefer fresh stock. Strain and use. You can also opt for about 2 tbsp organic vegetable bouillon with garlic flavour mixed in hot water.)
250 gms chicken cubed (from the stock recipe)
¼ cup carrots minced
¼ cup French beans thinly sliced
¼ cup sweet corn (optional)
¼ cup garden peas
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves pounded in a mortar and pestle
1 tbsp minced parsley
2 to 3 tbsp sliced spring onions
1 tsp lightly toasted sesame seeds
Salt to taste
2 tbsp full fat butter
In a stockpot, add the butter over a low flame. Once it starts to melt, add the garlic. As the raw smell dissipates, add the bay leaf.
Now add the vegetables and sauté for a minute or two, until their colour brightens. Add the rice, parsley and mix well. Then add the stock and chicken pieces. Add salt and pepper. Check for seasoning. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
Do check after 10 minutes if the stock suffices. If not add a bit of hot water based on how thick or thin you would like the porridge to be. After 15 minutes are up, check for doneness; add hot water, seasoning as per requirement.
Spoon into deep bowls, garnish with sliced spring onions and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with a side of Gochujang chilli paste, soya sauce and rice vinegar!
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This article was first published in December, 2021.