- ½ cup organic yellow split mung dhal (or red lentils)
- ½ cup organic white basmati rice (adjust ratio of rice to dhal based on your needs)
- 7 cups of water
- 2 inch knob of ginger root- peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 inch knob of turmeric root- peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground fennel
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Seasonal vegetables – beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, bok choy, kale, swiss chard, cilantro, etc.
- 1-2 Tablespoon ghee (or other oil)
- 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
- Other optional spices: curry powder, garam masala, curry leaf, bay leaf, cinnamon, clove
- Additional Toppings- Cilantro, fresh lime, shredded coconut
- Combine rinsed rice and dhal in a large stainless steel pot.
- Add 7 cups of water and bring to a boil, scrape off foam that rises to the surface.
- Once the rice/dhal is boiling, reduce to medium heat and add ginger root, and turmeric root, simmer for 5 minutes. If using beets, add them here as well because they take longer to cook than the other roots.
- Add the root vegetables and spices, including salt.
- Allow kitchari to sustain at a low boil/simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot frequently to prevent sticking. Add more water as needed.
- Add ghee or other oil and any softer vegetables such as zucchini, summer squash, green beans, chard stems or kale stems and allow to cook for 5-10 more minutes.
- Turn off heat and add any greens such as chard, kale, cilantro, etc.
- Once portioned into serving bowls, top with fresh lime juice, cilantro and a sprinkle of coconut if desired.
It’s amazing how popular kitchari has become in the west amongst the yoga, āyurveda, and other health conscious communities. Isn’t it just rice and beans? Basically yes, but there’s more too it than that if you understand the principles of the six tastes, five elements, and twenty guṇas (qualities).
Kitchari is traditionally used in pañcakarma therapy (āyurevdic cleansing therapy), or other times when the body-mind-spirit needs a simple diet to encourage healing. We use white basmati rice and mung beans because they are easy for most bodies to digest and assimilate when prepared with appropriate spices. Mung beans are very tiny, and practically dissolve into the stew pot. Other legumes can be used, but we most often see kitchari made with mung beans. The smaller the bean, the easier it is to digest. Since mung beans can be difficult to find, red lentils are a good substitute, and sold at most grocery stores. They are similar in size, and also dissolve into the stew pot, acting similarly to the mung beans.
We use specific spices that help to balance the six tastes and aid in digestion and assimilation. We can alter the spices based on season, constitution, and current needs. And we can incorporate different vegetables for the same reasons. Sometimes we will eat based on season, and other times we will eat based on a current imbalance.
Another important aspect to consider about kitchari, is that it is typically cooked as a stew, in one pot. When food is prepared together, and all of the ingredients have the opportunity to simmer and mingle, their different properties and qualities also mingle together. Several ingredients that are cooked together in one pot will act differently in the body than the exact same ingredients cooked separately, but eaten at the same time. It is less work for the body to digest and assimilate the one-pot stew.
Part of cooking kitchari, or any meal, is to make it your own. Figure out what spices and vegetables your body wants and needs, and use them. Have fun and be creative with the recipe, or throw it out all together, if that is your way. Feel into your body-mind-spirit, and actually listen. This is not the same as giving into cravings that may be perverted. As we become more and more able to identify the qualities and elements, the true needs will become more clear.
The environment in which we cook and eat also affects how our body digests the food. Creating a calm and loving environment in the kitchen will absolutely infuse the food, and all who eat it with those same qualities. By turning cooking and eating into a spiritual practice you begin to heal from the moment you pick up a knife and cutting board, or wash the first vegetable. Some ways to invite calm into your kitchen are by chanting mantras or reciting affirmations while cooking, and taking a moment for gratitude when cooking and before eating to honor all the beings that helped to bring the food into your hands.