≫ Kitchari Love
Nutrition is “the great medicine” of Ayurveda and good digestion is the foundation of health, for both body and mind. Whilst it is more complex that just one dish, this is great place to start. Beginning to sort out our digestion, whatever your diet of choice, is vital. So, whilst I am not here to push any specific diet on anyone, what I do advocate is really looking after your digestion, and finding what works for your body type.
I’ve suffered quite chronically with my gut health for many years and was out of medical options, so I managed my issues with diet and lifestyle, and have tried and tested many different ways of eating. Working through cancer has only perpetuated my interest in my diet, and gaining optimal gut health, and I am finally at a really good place. My digestive issues are a thing of the past, and dishes like this have really helped along the way!
Kitchari is a staple of Ayurvedic way of life and has become a staple in our house. For such a simple, straight forward dish it is probably the one we both enjoy most, and it has the most health benefits so it’s a win-win. It is one of those dishes that you will tweak over time and each time you make it will be different from the last, but that’s kind of the beauty of it.
It is a one pot dish and is super simple to make, no fuss, but is literally packed full of flavour. The spices are what make it great for balancing your digestive fire (Agni) which, when off balance, causes the digestive issues so many of us have that can then cause more serious health problems. It is a great source of energy, full of fibre, and is actually a pretty good source of calcium and vitamin c so is great for your bone health and to give you immune system a kick!
The combination of basmati rice and mung dal make a complete protein, and despite beans being generally harder for some people to digest mung dal (from mung beans) are easier on the gut. You can use mung beans and soak them overnight so they split and shed their green shell or you can just buy yellow mung dal for most supermarkets. Don’t confuse this with chana dal, yellow split peas, they aren’t the same thing so cant be substituted.
The vegetables you select should really be aligned with your specific dosha, but carrots, celery and courgette are pretty good for all, so that is generally what I stick to as a base so its suits both of us. In this particular recipe I added in a few mushrooms, which is actually a total no no from an Ayurvedic point of view, but has brilliant anti cancer properties so sometimes I make exceptions.
Ayurveda has been a constant for me for a while and after seeing a Ayurvedic practitioner it was suggested that I do a Kitchari cleanse (amongst many other things) regularly, to help soothe my digestive issues (that I had pre-cancer days) and it has become my go to comfort food ever since!
To do a kitchari cleanse, you essentially eat kicthari for each meal, or as part of your meals for a whole day or two. Following the recipe below, I had added some serving suggestions for each meal of the day so it doesn’t get boring.
It may seem like the shopping list is a bit extensive but honestly it is worth the investment of these spices. They’re really useful spices for loads of other dishes, but overall they the cost per dish works out pretty cheap.
RECIPE ≫ ≫ ≫ ≫ ≫ ≫
Serves: 4 – but you can add more veg if you want to stretch it further, or even more water to make it more soup like.
Cook Time: 1 hour including prep
200g Yellow Mung Dal (or use Mung beans that need to be soaked overnight)
100g basmati rice (it is thought that white is best as its easier to digest but I use brown as it is a wholegrain. Rice can also be swapped with Quinoa, or you could do 50g of each.)
2 tbsp coconut oil
4-5 cups of water
1 inch fresh ginger grated (or replace with tsp of ground ginger if do not have)
1/2 inch fresh turmeric (or add more powder if do not have)
2 tsp Cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp Black mustard seeds
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds
3 Split Cardamom pods
2 tsp Turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp Coriander powder
1 tsp Cumin powder
1 tsp Black pepper
Pinch of salt
Pinch of asafoetida
Chosen vegetables >
2 sticks of celery
(peas, sweet potato, squash are all good choices too)
- If using mung beans make sure these are soaked over night
- Rinse Mung Dal and Rice under water and make sure it runs clear
- Prep any veg you are using by cutting into smallish chunks
- Measure out all the seeds and spices into different dishes so they are ready to go
- Melt Coconut Oil in a saucepan on a medium heat
- Add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, cardamom and cloves until the seeds start to pop and then add all other spices.
- Cook for a couple of minutes on low until all the spices are combined. Be careful not to burn the spices
- Add half of the water and mix with the spices and then add the mung dal, rice and your chosen veg
- Combine all together well and then add a lid and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes on a low heat.
- Check throughout the cooking time to stir and to ensure it isn’t sticking to the pan. The consistency should be similar to porridge so add more water along the way if needed.
- That is all. It’s that simple!
- You could add bouillon to half of the water to take the edge of the spice if that’s not your thing.
- Water down with more water or add more veg to stretch further. Don’t worry too much about your spice measurements being spot on.
- I sometimes do double the amount of everything if I’m doing a cleanse and it last a good few days in the fridge – possibly more but it never last that long.
SERVING SUGGESTIONS – for cleanse
Breakfast : Top with coconut flakes and cinnamon, coconut yougart, or just a squeeze of lemon. Basically think of it as a spiced porridge.
Lunch : Top with fresh coriander and serve with some sourdough bread. Or top with avocado and tomatoes – just make sure they aren’t too cold.
Dinner : Serve with some sweet potato and/or some green veg (green beans, spinach, broccoli). This is a great way to add veg for your specific constitution.