Kitchari, a mixture of rice and mung dal, is basic to the Ayurvedic way of life. Basmati rice and mung dal both have the qualities of being sweet and cooling with a sweet after taste. In America, downing a hearty grain dish would not be called fasting. But in India kitchari—a soupy porridge made from rice and mung beans, lightly spiced with ginger, cilantro, and other spices—is considered a fasting food and is used to purify digestion and cleanse systemic toxins. Ayurvedic physicians often prescribe a kitchari diet before, during, and after panchakarma, a rejuvenative treatment that cleanses toxins stored in bodily tissues as it restores systemic balance. Kitchari provides solid nourishment while allowing the body to devote energy to healing. You can safely subsist on kitchari anytime in order to build vitality and strength as it helps balance all three doshas. For restless vata, the warm soup is grounding; for fiery pitta, its spices are calming; and for chilly kapha, it provides healing warmth. Ayurveda believes that all healing begins with the digestive tract, and kitchari can give it a much-needed rest from constantly processing different foods while providing essential nutrients. The blend of rice and split mung beans offers an array of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Its mixture of spices is believed to kindle the digestive fire, the Ayurvedic description for your innate digestive power, which can be weakened by poor food combinations. Kitchari tastes like a cross between a creamy rice cereal and a light dal, or lentil soup. If it is a cold, blustery day or you are feeling under the weather, a steaming bowl of this classic Indian comfort food can both warm up your bones and restore sagging energy.
- 1 cup white basmati rice
- 1 cup split mung beans
- 1 tablespoon ghee or butter
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1/4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon rock salt or sea salt
- 4 cups water
1Rinse the rice and mung beans until the water is clear.
2In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the ghee and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir a moment until the seeds pop.
3Add the rice, mung beans, turmeric, and salt, and stir until well blended with the spices.
4Add the water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 mins, uncovered, strring occasionally.
5Turn down the heat to low and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook until tender, about 20-25 minutes.