The 5,000 year old ancient practice of Ayurveda, yoga's sister science, is a set of guiding principles for healthy living. The word Ayurveda literally translates to "life knowledge." Using a holistic synergy of diet, herbs, yoga and self care practices designed specifically for each individual, Ayurveda works to restore balance of the mind, body and spirit.
One of Ayurveda's classic nourishing and delicious recipes is Kitchari, a blend of mung beans or lentils, rice, spices and vegetables. Not only is it a complete protein and easy to digest, it's also loaded with antioxidants and considered medicinal. According to Ayurveda, the spices in this recipe work synergistically to strengthen agni (digestive fire), detoxify, and restore balance. Kitchari is often used as part of a cleansing regime for people under high stress, with digestive problems, toxicity, or simply for seasonal wellness. I couldn't find any scientific research on Kitchari's effectiveness specifically, but there is a plethora of research on the individual ingredients in this dish as medicinal, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, cardio-protective, and overall health promoting.
There are thousands of kitchari recipes with varying combinations of herbs, spices and vegetables. Some are designed for individual needs. The recipe below is a general recipe that usually works for all doshas or constitutions. If you have heartburn or other serious medical conditions, please consult your health care provider before eating kitchari or planning a cleanse.
Photo by Emma Frisch
While this recipe takes time to prepare, it's a simple recipe and you will get about 5-6 meals out of it. You'll also get the numerous health benefits of kitchari!
Prep time: 2 hrs Cook time: ~1hr 30min Total time: ~3.5hrs
1 cup mung beans or lentils
1 cup basmati rice
3 tablespoons organic ghee or coconut oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 whole onion, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
4 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground black pepper
5-6 cups water
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup zucchini, diced
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 cup spinach or chard, chopped
Wash the mung beans and rice twice. Soak the mung beans and the rice overnight or for at least 2 hours.
Heat a saucepan on medium heat and add the ghee.
Once the ghee is mostly melted, add all the spices except for the coriander and stir until the spices are mixed and fragrant, making sure not to burn them.
Mix in the rice, dal, coriander and water. Keep in mind that more water (6 cups or more) creates a soupier consistency, where as less water (4-5 cups) creates a hearty, thick kitchari.
Once the mixture begins boiling, add carrots and zucchini
Cook at low boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Cover and cook on low heat until the beans and rice are soft, about 30-45 minutes.
Once well cooked, mix in the spinach
Remove from heat, serve in a bowl and garnish with sesame seeds and salt. You can also garnish with fresh cilantro, lime, shredded coconut, and/or avocado for more deliciousness!
Enjoy mindfully by putting aside distractions (phone, TV, etc) and taking the time to chew thoroughly and enjoy your delicious creation!
Happy Kitchari making!
Photo by Oh, Holy Basil
Recipe inspired by Leela Magny, RYT (Ayurvedic Healer) and Cyndi Tran, RYT (Ayurvedic Practitioner and student of Naturopathic Medicine)