Why Eat Kitchari?

During a long stay in India last year, I became ill with some intestinal discomfort and dehydration (commonly known as “Delhi belly”). I’d taken advantage of some of the delicious oily street snacks and well–I paid the uncomfortable price. I was also nearing the end of an intense, month-long yoga course that tested my physical and psychological stamina (I was literally and figuratively pooped out). A quick visit to the local Ayurvedic doctor between toilet times put a prescription for kitchari in my hand. I dragged myself down to a local cafe and ordered a double kitchari to go. For three days I ate the magical stew that nursed my digestive tract back to health.

Woman Backpacking

Besides being delicious and wholesome comfort food, kitchari has a variety of health benefits and healing properties. Here are our top reasons for eating this healing mixture:

  • Tri-doshic. It cleanses and balances all the doshas.
  • Ignites agni and promotes digestion. Most kitchari recipes call for ginger which stokes the digestive fire, speeds the emptying of the stomach, and helps transport nutrients to body tissues.
  • Detoxifies. Mung beans are an astringent; they remove toxic build-up in the intestines. Some experts claim that kitcheri also helps liquify ama (toxins), making them easier to eliminate. Replace yellow mung beans in any kitchari recipe with green mung beans or even lentils for equal nutritional value.
  • Complete protein. The base ingredients of rice and mung beans together have enough amino acids to form a complete protein, making it substantial enough to get you through the day. Good khichdi recipes are flexible enough to allow for more or less mung beans and rice so you can choose your most digestive ratio. Choose our kitchari recipe as part of a multi-day kitchari cleanse.
  • Easy to digest. Beans are difficult to digest for some people, particularly vata types. Mung beans are gentler on the digestive tract than other bean varieties, making them a magic bean for any constitution. Boost up the beans in our kitchari recipe below.

Luckily, I made friends with the owner of that little cafe who kitchari-ed me back to health and he shared his recipe with me, which I now share with you.

Note the variations with which I’ve experimented. I like it a little heavier on the mung beans than the rice personally, and I always add a dash of fresh ground black pepper to activate the turmeric, plus a few chopped broccoli trees. Find your variation!

Finish your kitchari cleanse with a soothing, dosha-friendly tea. Add equal parts to suit your taste to freshly boiled water.

Vata Tea – ground ginger, cumin, and coriander
Pitta Tea – ground cumin, coriander, and fennel
Kapha Tea – ground ginger and cinnamon, a pinch of clove

Now, introducing the most authentic kitchari recipe–straight from India

Best Kitchari Recipe

Bowl of Indian Food

Note: This kitchari recipe is suitable to use as part of a complete kitchari cleanse.

Base Ingredients

1 cup white basmati rice, rinsed and drained*
1/2 cup split yellow mung beans (dal), rinsed, soaked overnight, and drained
6 cups water*
5 thin slices fresh ginger root (optional)*
2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter – use a 100{333419861ba30e1dc2ec13e0bc68cc1cc8c177a4fba1b407cb76f9cb1a355b06} organic, grass-fed variety)

Spice Mix*

1/4 tsp of black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 pinch asafoetida (hing) powder*
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp rock salt

Preparation

  • Heat the ghee in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, asafoetida, and sautee.
  • Add the mung beans, turmeric, and salt, and stir continuously for a few minutes.
  • Stir in the rice, water, cumin powder, coriander powder, cinnamon, and ginger.
  • Bring to high heat and cook until the mixture is boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice and mung beans are soft and mushy (30-45 minutes).
  • Serve hot and add a sprig of fresh coriander to the top.

Variations & Additional Notes

Switch up the rice for barley, quinoa, or amaranth or any grain that balances your predominant dosha.
Add up to 1/2 cup more water for a thinner, soup-like consistency.
Ginger root “optional” – I say it’s necessary!
Use 1 tablespoon of prepared spice mix instead of making your own.
Asafoetida is a dried and powdered fennel resin. Use organic, gluten-free varieties only.
Add in some of your favorite vegetables while it’s simmering but avoid nightshades as they contain lectins that tend to stick to the intestinal walls.
Share this authentic kitchari recipe with your favorite people.

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