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Kitchari is a nourishing, cleansing, and easy to digest dish made of mung beans, basmati rice, ghee and spices. A staple food in Asia, kitchari is often the first food fed to babies and is eaten when someone is ill, weak or recovering from illness. It is easy and inexpensive to make. The first time I ate kitchari, my body went "yes! I want more of this!" Kitchari heals and soothes the digestive tract by allowing it to rest while still providing the nutrition our bodies need to heal itself. You can choose to eat kitchari for a single meal, an entire day, or do a short three to five day cleanse by mono-fasting on kitchari. Kitchari is used exclusively in Ayurveda’s wonderful deep detoxification and rejuvenation treatment program called panchakarma. I will share more information about panchakarma in another article.
There are as many recipes for kitchari as there are for chili in the west. In Ayurveda split-yellow mung dahl and white basmati rice are generally used. Both have had the husk removed making them easier to digest. Ghee, which is butter with its solids removed, is a good digestive that is supportive to our health. Cumin, coriander, fennel, fresh ginger, hing and turmeric and salt all help digestion and assimilation.
I almost always recommend my clients to fast one day a week on kitchari, sometimes adding seasonally appropriate vegetables. This recipe for kitchari is good for everyone. It is adapted from Dr. Vasant Lad’s recipe I learned when I worked at the Ayurvedic Institute. It can be made in about a half hour if you have soaked the beans overnight.
1 cup organic basmati rice
1 cup organic yellow split mung dal
2 Tb. Organic ghee
1 tsp. ground coriander seed
1 tsp. ground cumin seed
3/4 tsp ground fennel seed
Pinch of hing (asafoetida)
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
Pinch of salt
1-2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
Handful of fresh chopped cilantro
4-5 cups water – 2 cups for the rice and 2-3 cups for the dahl.
Rinse the rice in a colander until the water runs clear. Put the rice in a stainless steel 2 quart saucepan with cover or into a rice cooker. Add ½ tsp ghee and a pinch of salt and put the rice on to cook.
Rinse the mung dahl and allow to drain.
Melt the ghee over medium low heat in a two quart saucepan. First stir in the hing, and then quickly add the cumin, coriander and fennel. Next add the turmeric, salt and finally the ginger. As soon as the spices bloom and you can smell them cooking, add the mung dahl, stirring to coat with the ghee and spices. Be careful the heat is not too high or the ghee and spices will burn. Stir in the two cups of water, cover and cook until the dahl is soft, about 25-35 minutes, adding more water as needed. You can choose to have the dahl firm or soupy depending on the amount of water used.
Serve the dahl over the rice. You may add chopped cilantro, chopped ginger, fresh shredded coconut or a squeeze of fresh lime.
Kitchari is often made by cooking the rice and dahl together in one dish, but I like the rice and beans separate. This amount is enough for me to eat for a whole day. You will learn the right amount for yourself. I hope you love this!
I'm Shivani Chase. I love to help people learn how to live the best life they can using Ayurveda, yoga, compassion and common sense.