Updated: Jan 19
Kitchari means ‘mixture’ and usually combines two grains: lentils and rice. Traditionally, it’s made with a bit of ghee (clarified) butter and spices, and this simple meal is often taken as a Sattvic (pure and light) mono diet, meaning all your meals will consist kitchari for the duration of your programme!
It is balancing for all constitutions, aids in the clearance of toxins (Ama) and strengthens the digestive fire (Agni). This is the golden key to health, according to Ayurveda. Good Agni means we are able to digest, assimilate, and absorb nutrients from or food, whereas weak Agni means malabsorption and a build-up of Ama.
The benefits of each ingredient
Split yellow mung beans Generally, it is not recommended that Vata people (or people experiencing Vata imbalances) eat beans regularly, but the split mung bean is easy to digest for everyone. Whole mung beans have a green husk and are used to grow bean sprouts (you may know them from Asian dishes), but mung dal has had the husks removed, leaving them yellow, which significantly improves digestibility. Lentils are a great source of dietary fibre, folic acid, and minerals like copper, phosphorus, manganese, iron, zinc and potassium, as well as vitamins B1 and B6.
In Ayurveda, basmati rice is considered to be Sattvic, good for building our rasas (bodily tissues), and is a rich form of Prana and especially nourishing when recovering from illness as it easy to digest. It balances all three Doshas.
When the grains are eaten on their own, they lack certain amino acids to make a complete protein, but when they are combined, magic happens! The body is able to extract a complete amino acid profile to build up the protein our bodies need.
Cumin, coriander, fennel, ginger & turmeric
I’ve thrown these on one heap, because they are typically calming for the digestive tract.
This spice is so stinky that it is sometimes called ‘devil’s dung’. Why on Earth is it in your spice mix you ask?? First of all, you’ll be happy to know its sulphuric smell subsides with cooking. Second, it is widely used in Indian cuisine because it helps with digestion. When paired with typically gas-producing foods like beans and cruciferous vegetables, it has an antispasmodic and carminative (gas-relieving) effect. As such, it is a common Ayurvedic remedy for a variety of ailments, including digestive disorders and excess gas.
Pick your veggies!
Pick a combination of 3 veggies from the following suggestions:
Feeling vata? Carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash, courgette, okra.
Feeling pitta? Cauliflower, broccoli, courgette, butternut squash, green beans.
Feeling kapha? Broccoli, carrots, spinach, peas, green beans.
2-4 servings* | cooking time 20 mins | prep 20 mins
1/2 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup mung dal
6 cups water
2 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
1 tbsp kitchari spice blend (see below)
1.5 cups assorted vegetables
3 slices fresh ginger (for Vata/Kapha only)
pinch sea salt
handful fresh coriander, chopped (optional)
1 wedge lime (optional)
Kitchari spice blend
This makes one serving of the spice blend. Should the ingredients be hard to come by, you can purchase one of my blends here. Shipping from €2.95 in the Netherlands!
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
Soak rice and dal until in water for 15 minutes, rinse and drain.
Add the rice, dal, ginger (for Vata/Kapha) and water to a pot and bring to a simmer for 10 mins.
Meanwhile chop up your vegetables, and add to the pot to cook for another 10 minutes, add more water if the consistency is getting too thick.
In a separate sauce pan, sauté the ghee/coconut oil and spices until the seeds pop, and the aromatics are released (this is called tempering and unlocks the nutritional benefits of the spices), and mix with your kitchari.
Add sea salt, coriander and lime to serve.
Bless your food, and enjoy with presence!
*Everyone’s appetite is different, but you’ll be able to have at least two meals from this batch if not more. Ayurveda recommends you fill your stomach with 50% solids, 25% liquids and leave 25% empty. This leaves room for proper digestive action. Another common rule of thumb is ‘eat until you are 80% full’.