In Ayurveda cooking, Kitchari (or kichadi) combines protein (mung dhal) and carbohydrate (basmati rice) into a single dish – it’s best known in Ayurveda as a cleansing and complete protein meal. This amazingly tasty dish heals digestive distress, balances the metabolism, is a potent blood cleanser, liver cleanser, assists in healthy weight loss, allowing the body’s tissues to detox what they don’t need and absorb the nutrients they do and is a breeze to make! Your body will feel so good that extra weight will fall off, you’ll sleep better, your digestion & elimination will improve and your skin will shine.
In Ayurveda, digestion is of #1 importance! Based on ayurvedic understanding of agni (digestive fire), white basmati is most preferred form of rice as it is lightest and easiest to digest. Specifically in terms of a kitchari cleanse, we are looking to eat light digestible food that is nourishing while also allowing our bodies to digest the accumulated ama (toxicity due to excess or improper foods that the body has not digested fully, leading to a variety of maladies from indigestion and gas to excess cholesterol and more). When your agni is stronger, you are more capable of digesting heavier foods. A kitchari cleanse will help to strengthen the agni. Regular brown rice is actually pretty tough to digest – it takes a long time to get through the system. If you feel heavy, bloated, are not hungry, or are not pooping, switch to white rice, like basmati. You’ll probably feel a lot better.
Use Mung Dhal (aka mung dal or mung dahl or moong dal…it can be confusing!) They are yellow and split. They have been used for centuries to detox the body. Don’t use whole green mung beans – they are not as digestive friendly and can cause extra gas or bloaties (what we DON”T want!) Check out this article for better clarification on the RIGHT dahl to purchase – helped me immensely!
There are LOTS of variations on Kitchari, but here’s one that I especially love in the Fall and Winter months . This recipe is tridoshic friendly – healing for all doshas (balances Vata, Pitta, & Kapha). If you don’t know your dosha (Ayurvedic body-mind type) – take the test to find out. Stay with 2 or 3 veggies in this dish so it is more easily digestible. Enjoy!
- 1 cup white organic basmati rice OR organic quinoa (I’ve tried this and it’s great too!) – soak overnight and rinse well
- 1/2 to 1 cup mung beans (see variations below), soaked overnight and rinse well (NOT the whole green ones)
- 2 TB. ghee (clarified butter)
- 1 TB. fennel seeds
- 1 TB. cumin seeds or powder
- 1 TB. ground turmeric
- 2 TB. chopped fresh ginger
- 5-6 cups water (more if needed – if adding extra veggies)
- 3 leaves of Swiss chard (can also use spinach or kale)
- 1 cup each (or more – I LOVE my veggies): carrots, sweet potato, celery (optional veggies: asparagus, green beans, beets)
- 2 tsp. sea salt (more to taste)
- cilantro for garnish – We like LOTS! (Can also use parsley, dill or basil)
- lime juice
Rinse rice and beans well (several times) and set aside. In a large pot, heat ghee over medium heat. Once ghee has melted, add fennel, cumin and turmeric. Stir well, (keep in mind the turmeric will stain EVERYTHING – so use stainless steel measuring spoons over plastic), then add rice and beans and combine well.
When rice & beans begin sticking to the sides of the pot, add ginger and water. Cover and bring to boil. Stir and set timer for 20 minutes to allow rice & beans to cook at medium heat.
While the rice and beans are cooking, let’s chop the swiss chard, cut the carrots, sweet potato and celery and chop any cilantro you’ll be using to garnish and further assist digestion (and it tastes amazing!).
Once rice and beans are cooked, add vegetables and mix well. Add more water if necessary (depending on how many veggies you added), then cover and allow vegetables to cook to finish the dish (about another 20 minutes or so). The finished consistency should be rich, thick and soupy. (I show you what to look for in the recipe video).
Before serving, add the lime juice and fresh chopped cilantro (also known in herbal medicine to clear heavy metals out of the body). Season with more salt to taste. This is a very filling and satisfying stew. Start with a small bowl and see how it fills you up – then if you want some more, add a few more servings. Be mindful and aware of how much you eat (at every meal) and ENJOY in a peaceful environment (no computer time, tv or loud distractions) with good, satisfying company and peaceful background music for BEST digestion and nutrient assimilation.
This pot will make enough for 6-8 servings (depending on size of bowl). For any leftovers, it is best to reheat in a little pan on the stove (you will want to add a little water to thin out) – for lunch and/or dinner over the next few days. Use within 3 days. Just remember that the longer something stays in the refrigerator (or freezer), the more lifeless it will become. FRESH is the BEST.
Dosha appropriate variations:
- Kaphas do well with more beans and spices and less ghee and rice.
- Pittas do well with equal parts beans and rice, lots of cilantro, and some ghee & appropriate spices.
- Vatas do well with more rice, ghee and spices and less beans.
This is a STAPLE in our household! We LOVE it! I hope you do too!May the GREENS be with You! and Be Inspired! Kibby