Nourishing Kitchari Recipe
Food is Medicine
In Ayurveda, food is medicine and it is the basis of our physical and mental health. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “you are what you eat.” However, in Ayurveda, we take this a step further and say, “You are what you digest.” And if we aren’t digesting our food properly, our bodies don’t operate as well and we don’t feel as good. A healthy diet is the first line of defense against imbalance, but our diet is only as good as our ability to digest it.
If you experience bloating, indigestion, sluggishness, constipation, etc., it is a sign that the digestive system isn’t working optimally. Our digestive system can be weakened by any number of things-- the most common being stress, lack of sleep, eating processed or rich foods, too much meat consumption, etc. But the good news is that the body is very resilient, and through the right methods, we can easily get back on track.
What is Kitchari?
A great way to nourish the body while gently bringing the digestive system back into balance is through Ayurvedic kitchari. The word kitchari literally means "mixture" in Sanskrit. This ancient dish was historically made as just a mixture of rice, lentils and spices, but a more modern approach includes adding vegetables in order to make it a more nutritious, balanced meal.
Kitchari is often used in an Ayurvedic fasting protocol where it is eaten solely as a “monodiet” for a number of days. It is also given therapeutically as part of a deep rejuvenation ritual known as panchakarma.
However, kitchari is excellent as a standalone meal, since it is easy on the digestive system and incorporates anti-inflammatory spices like cumin, coriander, fennel seed and turmeric. These spices also help to enkindle agni (or our digestive system) in a gentle way. Strong agni ensures that we are able to digest, assimilate and absorb nutrients from our food. Kitchari is tridoshic, which means that it is suitable for all doshas, or mind-body types (read more on this here).
NOURISHING KITCHARI RECIPE
1 cup split yellow mung beans, soaked overnight (split mung beans are easiest to digest)
1 cup white or brown rice soaked for a couple of hours or overnight
6 cups water
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground fennel seeds (ground or whole)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp pink salt
1-2 tbsp ghee (optional)
2-4 cups of your choice of the following vegetables:
Diced sweet potato
Zucchini/ Winter Squash
Drain and rinse the beans and rice. Transfer to a large pot and add 6 cups of water to start. Bring to a boil and add all spices and ghee if desired, then reduce heat and cook covered for 30 minutes. Add chopped vegetables and cook another 15 - 35 minutes until vegetables are soft (carrots and sweet potatoes will need more time), adding extra water if necessary.
For a soupier variation, continue adding water until desired consistency is reached. For a thicker stew-like variation, cook until water is almost absorbed. Before serving, season with salt as needed. Serve with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice or a handful of cilantro.
Makes 4 servings