Kitchari! A nourishing vegetarian dish to make in the winter or the summer … whenever you are looking for something easy to digest.
Now that the holidays are over, our bodies want to have a little break from all the rich, heavy foods. However, spring isn’t here yet so we can’t eat all the lovely liver cleansing vegetables. In fact, spring is nowhere in site, just the past week it was -40F here in the Midwest. Even if the prediction of the groundhog is correct, spring won’t start until April here. Many people start dieting, removing nourishing foods from their diet but most fail because it is just too early. So what can we do?
I like to turn to the ancient Ayurveda cooking, in other words Indian cuisine! Most people associate Indian foods with something exotic. Yes, some of their dishes can be foreign to us, but their nourishing dish, the Kitchari can be made any time, anywhere and surely by anybody. Really, Indians make it on a regular basis, serve it during holidays with the rich foods to help digestion and even give it to sick people to recover from an illness. It is an inexpensive dish that millions eat on a daily basis in India. I asked my Ayurveda teacher if we could eat it during the cold season. She said yes even when it is -40F – just add the warming spices like ginger, cumin, and hot pepper. You can serve local vegetables like carrots, spinach, kale, cauliflower, onions etc. Of course, it would go nicely with some Indian rice and roti.
This is a very healthy dish. Usually, Ayurveda practitioners advice their clients to eat kitchari if they have any acute or chronic issues. It just does amazing things… The three spices turmeric, cumin, coriander are used along with the mung beans. The kitchari diet should last for 1 week when one is only allowed to eat kitchari, rice, grains and vegetables. Of course all the fried foods, fried vegetables, paneer have to be left out. Mung beans are used but if you can get the yellow split moong beans, they are even better as they are easier to digest.
- 2 tsp of ghee (I use home-made)
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp of coriander powder
- 1 cup of split mung dal (yellow) – soak for at least 4 hours
- 1/2 tsp of cumin powder
- 1 tsp of whole cumin seeds
- ½ tsp rock salt
- about 4 cups of water or chicken stock
- 1 inch of fresh minced ginger root
- black pepper
- cilantro to taste
Indian rice ingredients
- 1 cups of white Basmati rice
- 2 cups of water or meat stock
- 2 tsp ghee (homemade the best)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- little piece of cinnamon
- pinch of saffron (8-10 strings)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp little turmeric
- Clean and soak mung beans overnight but soak at least for 2 hours. Pour off water and use fresh cold water to cook the beans for 1-1.5 hour.
- Making the gravy. Saute the onions on medium high heat.
- When you smell the nice aroma add the ginger, cumin seeds stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the powders (turmeric, cumin, coriander), stir for 1 minute. Add garlic, stir.
- Add cold stock, stir.
- Add 1 chopped tomato and cook for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes saucy.
- Add chopped carrots. Indians add the rice here.
- Bring to a boil, turn down and cook for 30 minutes.
- Add in the cooked mung beans and cook for 15 more minutes or until done.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Prepare the rice.
- Serve with rice, cilantro and lemon.
Indians cook the dish with the rice. I personally like to serve the rice on the side and prepare separate.