Oh, kitchari, what a beautiful discovery! I’ve been enjoying a warm bowl of kitchari for breakfast or lunch over most days over the past few weeks, & it is becoming one of my favorite “comfort foods.” For those of you who are unfamiliar, “kitchari” is a dish of split mung beans & rice cooked long & slow with spices, ghee & seasonal vegetables. It is an Ayurvedic staple ~ balancing, tonifying & cleansing, & was one of the main meals in my recent “Winter Ayurvedic Cleanse.” For this week’s “Wellness Wednesday” post, I am inviting Laura Plumb, my Ayurvedic guru, the wise woman who guided our cleanse, & the author of the beautiful blog, Food: A Love Story.
Today, I am sharing an excerpt from one of Laura’s blog posts dedicated to the art & heart of healing kitchari. Laura also graciously allowed me to share the “basic winter kitchari” recipe that we enjoyed on our cleanse, which I adapted with seasonal vegetables I had in my kitchen. I hope you cook it, savor it & love it as much as we do.
An Introduction from Laura Plumb of Food: A Love Story ~
Kichari, sometimes spelled Kichidi, or Kitchari, is the most healing of foods, not to mention whole-body delicious. It is warm, rich, hearty & grounding: delightfully balancing in Fall/Winter.
I simply cannot say enough about it: Kichari is cleansing. Kichari is tonifying. Kichari is nurturing. Kichari is gentle to sensitive tummies. Kichari is loving, warm assurance on cold, rainy days. Kichari is a family favorite. Kichari is so important to Ayurveda that it is featured all over & might even be called the star of Food: A Love Story.
We often think of foods that tonify, or strengthen, & foods that cleanse & detoxify as utterly distinct. The beauty of Kichari is that it does both. It fortifies & purifies, explaining its reputation as one of the world’s original “Smart Foods.”
Kichari is served to the sick, elderly, overweight, undernourished. It provides most of our daily nutritional needs, is easy to digest, & kindles the digestive fires, making it ideal, too, for post-operative recovery, as it won’t divert energy from the healing. Kichari is such a complete meal that it is often eaten exclusively as a fast as it so efficiently supports detoxification.
Despite its medicinal power, Kichari is great comfort food ~ & surprisingly delicious. It is, in fact, full body delicious: home-cooked kichari awakens cellular intelligence to the point you can almost hear your body hum. Mmmmm. Yummmm. Ommmm. Yeeeesssss.
There are a number of recipes for kichari on Food: A Love Story. You will find two on the Basics page, another one here & here a great video demonstration, by the totally adorable Kate Schwabacher making kichari in her kitchen.
In Ayurveda there is a saying, “Food is sensory. Digestion is Divine.” Both a sumptuous symphony of sensory delights & divinely digestible, this healing dish is a sacred blessing.
“Vegenista’s Winter Kitchari”
***adapted from The VedaWise Winter Cleanse
- 1 cup brown basmati riace
- 1/2 cup split mung beans (or lentils, or split peas)
- 2 Tbsp. ghee (or coconut oil for a vegan version)
- 1 tsp. mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- 4 cups boiling water
- 1 Tbsp. shredded coconut
- 1 tsp. sesame seeds
- 1/2 cone cabbage, shredded
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 small head of purple cauliflower, chopped into bite size pieces, & roasted
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled, chopped & roasted
- 1 tsp. Himalayan pink salt
- 1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
***look for split mung beans in the bulk section of your local health food store or ethnic market. If you cannot find locally, you can purchase online through Banyan Botanicals.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cauliflower & sweet potato with coconut oil until well coated, then place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Season with Himalayan pink salt. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.
- While vegetables are roasting, rinse rice & mung beans in water & drain.
- in a large pot or dutch oven melt the ghee over medium-high heat. Add spices & saute for 1 minute.
- Stir in rice & mung & coat thoroughly in the spicy oil.
- Add water, sesame seeds, coconut, & shredded cabbage. Cook on medium heat until rice is tender, approximately 40 minutes.
- Stir in roasted vegetables & salt, & cook for a few minutes over low heat.
- Garnish with golden raisins, flaked coconut, & cilantro.Serve warm.
One of the things I’ve really been enjoying about kichari is that it is very adaptable & versatile. You can basically add what ever seasonal vegetables that you desire to the basic mixture of mung beans, rice & spices. It can be eaten alone as a complete meal for breakfast or lunch, or both, or as a side dish alongside a salad & steamed seasonal vegetables. I even put a large scoop of kitchari baked carnival squash halves! Yum!
Are you tired of hearing about Ayurveda? Hope not, as I am not tired of writing about it! In fact, I’ve dedicated a tab on the sidebar for this ancient healing science, so you can expect that it is going to be a pretty regular topic around here.
So, go pour yourself a mug of ginger tea, give yourself a little love, & make some nourishing kichari. You’re going to fall head over heels.