From Meghan Powell
Kitchari (or khichadi) is an Ayurvedic meal that is nourishing, cleansing, and detoxifying. And when in India, and your stomach (like mine) takes a bit to get used to the local cuisine, it’s a great way to give your digestive system a much needed break.
I first had kitchari (or khichadi) while my mom and I were taking cooking lessons from the famous food guru, Sandhya Vasudeva, in Mysore, India. If you find yourself in Mysore, visit her for a delicious lunch of traditional South Indian food prepared in her house that is ayurvedically approached with a dietary awareness to the more sensitive western yogi.
Of course better yet, if you have a week to spare – take cooking lessons from her. Sandhya has an enormous amount of knowledge to share from dosa recipes to being conscious of how your thoughts can affect the food you touch.
Ayurveda’s One Pot Meal
Yellow mung dhal is high in protein and easily digestible. Basmati rice is also easy for the stomach to handle. In Ayurveda, ghee is like yellow magic that can help in the treatment of aliments of the vata and pitta constitution. I very loosely paraphrased that from the Charaka Samhita so you perhaps shouldn’t quote that to your Western doctor.
Ghee is a sattvic food, used for aiding digestion and lubricating the tissues. But don’t take my word for it though or some ancient Sanskrit text – look up “Butyric acid in ghee.” If you follow a vegan or dairy-free diet, you could try using water, sesame oil, or coconut oil to soften the spices.
Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Ginger has both of those properties and has been known to help digestion and alleviate nausea. Cumin seeds are also known to aid digestion. Thus all of those being very helpful in a detoxifying dish.
Ayurveda means the science of life. So figuring out how to support your unique body and mind is important to leading a healthy lifestyle. You can use this recipe when you’re sick, stressed, or need a cleanse. It can also be adapted to help balance your individual constitution and observe your dietary choices. Since it’s a one pot meal, I usually make it when I don’t want to do dishes – which is very important to my lifestyle.
- 2-4 tbsp Ghee (or substitute oil or water)
- 1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- a pinch of asafetida powder
- 1/2 turmeric powder
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
- optional 1/4 cup curry leaves (this can be hard to find where I live but they add great flavor and are said to have good digestive properties)
- Optional 1-2 cups of chopped carrots (or use a different easily digestible veggie that is more suitable for you. Plain traditional kitchari is great, especially if that is what your body needs but feel free to be creative too. You’re the one eating it, not me.)
- 1/2 cup yellow mung dhal, rinsed
- 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
- 4-6 cups of water (use less water for a thicker dish and more water to make it soupier.)
- salt to taste
- Optional garnish: try cilantro or lime.
- In a large heavy pot*, heat the ghee or substitute on medium-high heat.
- Add the mustard and cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds turn golden brown, add asafetida powder, turmeric, ginger, and curry leaves. Stir till everything is coated (about 15-30 seconds).
- Add the veggies and mix well.
- Add the water, rice, dhal, and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, and cover with a lid. Cook for around 20-30 mins.
- *This can also be made in a pressure cooker but I haven’t figured out how to properly use mine. The whistle scares me. So if you’re short on time, use the cooker.
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