What is Kitchari?
Kitchari is an Ayurvedic stew comprised of basmati rice and split mung dal. It is a staple of the Ayurvedic diet and is eaten during a mono-diet fast. Mono-diet fasts are a type of Ayurvedic fast where kitchari is the only thing consumed besides water and herbal tea. Fasting can help ignite the digestive fire or agni. It can also help to rid the body/mind of toxins or ama. Fasting is contraindicated for anyone who is sick, pregnant, menstruating or bleeding and fasting should be avoided by children and the elderly. Kitchari is also the main meal in panchakarma or the Ayurvedic cleansing therapy because it is easy to digest and helps to reset the digestive fire.
The main staples of kitchari, basmati rice and split mung dal, are both sattvic or balancing foods as well as being tridoshic or balancing for all dosha. They have a sweet rasa or taste, a cooling virya or energetics, and a sweet vipaka or post-digestive effect. When they are combined together, they create a complete meal and a complete protein. Kitchari also includes ghee or oil, a digestive spice blend and vegetables.
Kitchari Spice Blend
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
1/3 cup split mung dal
2/3 cup basmatic rice
1-3 tablespoons ghee
3 teaspoons kitchari spice mix
1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
5 cups filtered water
Assorted Vegetables (peas, carrots, spinach, greens, corn, etc.)
1. Soak mung dal in filtered water for 30 minutes to soften and make it more easily digestible.* Wash rice and dal in a strainer until water runs clear.**
2. Heat ghee in medium saucepan until melted. Add kitchari spice mix to ghee and saute. for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Then add the rice and mung dal and stir to coat in ghee and spice mixture for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and lightly simmer for 20-30 minutes. At this stage, add any vegetables that will take longer to cook. Add your leafy greens during the final 5 minutes of cooking time. To make a more soupy consistency, add boiling water and whisk before serving to breakdown the mung dal even further. Serve with a teaspoon of ghee melted stirred in each bowl.
*If you want to cook your kitchari in a rice cooker, you must soak the mung dal beforehand. If you have an electric pressure cooker, you don't necessarily need to soak the mung dal beforehand, but soaking the dal does improve its digestibility.
**When cooking kitchari in a rice cooker or electric pressure cooker, you follow step one, then add remaining ingredients and cook according to manual.