Kitchari is a Ayurvedic dish originating in India. Though unglamorous in appearance this humble looking dish is revered in for its cleansing and detoxifying properties. It is rich in protein and grains, but is easily digested by the body. In its most basic form, it always includes basmati rice and mung beans cooked with a variety of Indian herbs and spices. It is often prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors for those who are recovering from sickness or need to reset their bodies.
Ayurvedic medicine is a traditional form of healing in India. It is a holistic view that suggests that the cause of disease is imbalance in the body. They believe that most diseases can be reversed if the imbalance is corrected. Their main vehicle for this balancing is nutrition. Depending on your body type, Ayurvedic doctors would tell you which foods to avoid and which foods you should consume. Kitchari is a dish that is encouraged for every body type and is a great dish to try if you are curious about Ayurvedic foods and love Indian flavors.
Magically healing or not, this dish packs a lot of proven good-for-you nutrients. Mung beans are full of protein, but are the easiest of all beans to digest. Basmati rice is a whole grain filled with fiber. The spices used to infuse the dish with deep flavor are anti-inflammatory and detoxifying. Beyond these basic components, veggies can be added to further enhance the nutrient profile of this dish.
Its name, Kitchari, is literally translated “a mess” which is quite fitting considering its appearance. All of the components of this dish are cooked down – in only one pot I might add – until soft and the beans begin to coat the other ingredients. This slow break down creates a unique creamy consistency, almost like a good risotto. The result is a hearty fragrant dish that fills you up without leaving you feeling heavy.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil (traditional recipes use ghee)
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 3/4 cup mung beans , soaked for 8 hours or overnight and rinsed
- 3/4 cup split mung beans (often called Moong Dal) OR sprouted lentils, rinsed
- 1 1/2 cup brown basmati rice , rinsed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups 1/2 inch cubed baby red potatoes
- 2 large or 3 medium carrots , cut into 1/2 inch lengths
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 inches fresh ginger , peeled and minced
- 2 zucchini , cut into half moons
- 4 cups chopped kale
Melt the coconut oil in a large pot. Add in the seeds and cook over medium heat until you hear them begin to pop. Add in the coriander and turmeric and stir to combine. Quickly add in the beans and rice and stir to coat in the spices. Add in 7 cups of water, the bay leaves, potatoes, carrots, garlic , and ginger. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes.
Add in the zucchini and kale. Cover and cook another 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow the kitchari to rest with the lid on for 10 minutes. Serve with cilantro and lime wedges.
*If you are adding your own favorite assortment of veggies, add the harder veg first (such as root vegetables) and the softer veg later on in the cooking time (such as asparagus, leafy greens, or peas). This ensures that all the ingredients cook evenly. No overly crunchy or mushy vegetables to be seen here!