Ayurve-delicious! Try this Amazing Kitchari Recipe Tonight
I love trying new dishes, but, admittedly, I’m not great at following recipes to the T. All those precise instructions can seem a bit overwhelming! I generally cook simple meals, and create my own dishes based on whatever’s in the fridge. But for this recipe, I felt it was my duty to be true to the ancient nourishing dish, kitchari, so I decided to get some guidance from the pros (or at least the internet!).
First, I needed to answer the question: What is kitchari?
Well, kitchari is a stew that is fundamental to Ayurvedic cooking. It is light, easy to digest, high in protein, and considered a very sattvic food, meaning that it is said to create a feeling of contentment and clarity when consumed. Kitchari is ideal for cleansing and balancing each of the three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—which are the three constitutions in Ayurveda that define our behavior, as well as our emotional and physical health. I learned that each spice and seed in the recipe plays an important part in detoxing the body, however, some are suitable to one dosha only. This means that though kitchari is good for all bodies, it’s helpful to identify your constitution before making this dish in order to tailor it to you specifically.
What Are the Benefits of Kitchari?
According to Sunwarrior.com, kitchari is “best known in Ayurveda as a cleansing and complete protein meal. This dish heals digestive distress, balances the metabolism, is a potent blood and liver cleanser, assists in healthy weight loss, and helps the body’s tissues to detox what they don’t need and absorb the nutrients they do.” Many people consume kitchari during cleansing to maximize the body’s ability to eliminate toxins while still getting the nutrients they need. With this plethora of health benefits, I thought it would be the perfect end-of-the-weekend detox meal for a Sunday night!
As I researched recipes, I found a ton of variations, from simple, (just a few ingredients) to extremely hearty and complex. I chose this veggie-heavy kitchari recipe from Elephant Journal primarily because I always feel the more veggies the merrier, but a simple recipe like this one, from my friend Stephanie at SattvaSpace, is great as well.
This recipe also contained a few spices that weren’t in my current rack, so I needed to branch out—always fun!
One note: the seeds were quite difficult to find in a normal grocery store, so you may want to order them online or try Whole Foods or a specialty health store.
Makes 4-6 servings.
- 1/2 cup of dry mung dal (split yellow)
- 1 cup high quality Indian Basmati Rice or Quinoa
- 2-3 tablespoons ghee (if you’re going the traditional route) or coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon turmeric (I love turmeric, so I went heavy on this one)
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, minced (cut it up smaller than you think you need to)
- 4-6 cups water (more water will make it soupier)
- 6-7 cups assorted vegetables (I used yams, cauliflower, and cilantro for garnish)
- 1 tablespoon Himalayan pink sea salt (or regular sea salt)
- The day before, wash the mung beans and rice thoroughly, and soak the beans overnight to make them easier to digest. I cooked my rice the day before as well to give it time to set and cool before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.
- Add coconut oil or ghee to a large sauté pan and allow it to melt to its liquid form. Add seeds to the oil and sauté until they pop.
- Next, add the spices (minus the salt), ginger, rice, and beans to the oil. Coat the rice and beans with the spices and seeds, adding everything relatively quickly to avoid burning the spices or over-heating the oil.
- Begin to add water or broth slowly to the pot, stirring as you go. Add any extra vegetables that you have prepared, and stir everything together gently.
- Allow water to come to a boil and then lower the heat. Cover and cook for another 45 minutes, or until all of your vegetables are soft. At the very end of cooking, add the salt.
- Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then add cilantro and more coconut oil or ghee as garnish and serve warm. Enjoy!
Have you ever tried kitchari or other Ayurvedic food? Let us know in the comment section below!
P.S. Ayurvedic tradition doesn’t believe in leftovers or re-heating foods, but I broke the rules and ate my kitchari for several days afterwards, and it kept well!