- 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.
Ghee – Clarified Butter
Ghee is butter that has been clarified. This means that the lactose, milk solids, and excess water have been cooked out of the butter. The result is a beautiful, golden liquid that is light and easier to digest than regular butter. The pure fat that remains after the heating process is similar to the fat in the human body, making ghee an excellent choice of oil for better assimilation.
Āyurveda considers ghee to be the ultimate oil for cooking. It has a high heat tolerance, is generally easy to digest, and provides needed unsaturated fat for the entire body system. It has rejuvenating effects for overall health and well-being. Ghee is also used as a carrier for internal medicine and applied topically to the skin.
Benefits Of Ghee:
- Sharpens the mind and enhances learning and memory.
- Aids digestion in appropriate quantity.
- Helps maintain and repair the mucus lining of the stomach.
- Enhances absorption and assimilation by carrying herbs and nutrients deep into the cells and tissues.
- Preserves the potency and prāṇa of herbs and food.
- Soothes mild skin burns and prevents blisters and scarring.
We use our sense of hearing, sight, and smell when turning butter into ghee. Though ghee itself has a high heat tolerance, the milk solids can burn in the preparation process if we are not giving our full attention. Like all things, being present with the ghee as it cooks will yield a superior product full of loving, healing energy.
Hearing – Listen to the popping sounds as the liquids cook out. The sound will be louder at the beginning. When it become more quiet, this is a sign that most of the liquid is gone. This is the time to pay close attention.
Sight – Look at the butter as it is transforming into ghee. It will start off cloudy and become a clear, golden liquid. The bubbles that form at the beginning will be more frothy, and as the liquid cooks out they will become smaller and more dispersed. Look for the curds that sink to the bottom. When they just start to brown, this is a sign that the ghee is ready (or nearly ready). If the clear golden liquid turns brown, you may have cooked it a bit too far. It is not necessarily burnt, and may still be useable. A touch of brown can add a desirable flavor to some palates.
Smell – You will notice a “nutty” scent if the ghee begins to brown, which will soon lead to burning.
- Place one pound of unsalted butter in a heavy-bottom pot.
- Turn the stove to medium until the butter is melted.
- Continue to cook over a medium-low heat for approximately 20-30 minutes. The time will vary based on stove temperature and the amount of butter used. Use your senses to look for the signs as listed above.
- Chant or pray over the pot as you please.
- You may want to skim the froth off the top as it is cooking, but you do not have to. Experiment and see what you prefer.
- Once the ghee is finished cooking, remove it from the heat to cool.
- Pour the ghee through a fine sieve and/or cheese cloth into a clean glass jar(s).
- Allow the ghee to finish cooling in the jar(s) before sealing to prevent moisture build-up.
Agni Boost Appetizer
This agni boosting appetizer will heat up your digestive fire, and encourage appetite for eating. It is best for people who are experiencing slow or dampened digestion and a lack of hunger. It is quite heating, and should not be taken by people with excess pitta or a sharp digestive fire.
- 2 inches fresh ginger root
- ½ lime
- ⅛ tsp. rock salt
Preparation Method #1:
Peel and slice one small pice of ginger about the size of a penny.
Squeeze a dash of lime and a pinch of salt on the ginger.
Eat 20 minutes prior to meal time.
Preparation Method #2:
Peel and slice or julienne the ginger and place in a small jar or container.
Squeeze the fresh lime and sprinkle the salt over the ginger.
Seal and save in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Use one finger pinch 20 minutes before meals to improve sense of hunger and stimulate digestion.
Ojas Milk Recipe
This sweet, spiced milk has nourishing and building qualities, which help to build ojas. Ojas, in simple terms, is our immunity, strength, and stamina. During the cold, dry, winter months, heavier, building foods can be an excellent medicine . This recipe is also useful for people in their wisdom years or during times of stress and general depletion.
The recipe uses cow’s milk, but fresh almond “milk” or another nut or grain “milk” is a good alternative, especially if excess kapha is present.
- 1 cup raw whole milk
- 8 almonds, soaked, peeled, and chopped
- 2 dates, chopped
- 1/8 tsp. ginger
- 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. cardamom
- Optional add-ins: nutmeg, turmeric, saffron, ghee
- Place all the ingredients in a saucepan.
- Bring to a low boil for 4 minutes, and stir.
- Blend the mixture for a creamy texture or drink as is.