from the Ashram Kitchen
23 October 2020
Okay, first things first…..is it kitchari, kitcheri, kitcharee, khichadi, or kitchadee? (Google search numbers told us that kitchari won, so we’re going with that!)
Kitchari means ‘mixture’, and the classic style we eat at The Ashram is essentially two ingredients: rice mixed with various kinds of dahl or lentils. It’s a one-dish meal that satisfies for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and can be plain or enhanced with spices that help with digestion.
Did You Know…?
It was unsalted kitchari that the gopis of Vrindavan used in order to fast for 40 days in penance and prayer to Katyayani Devi. Their goal was Krishna as their husband, and they chose kitchari to help them fast and keep their focus. As a result of their longing and dedication, Krishna called to them and gifted them with the Maha-rasa lila. This event is what we celebrate each year as Kartik night, so this is a great dish to have in the month of Kartik.
Actually, now that the weather is colder, it is the perfect time to integrate kitchari in your weekly meal plan, since it is warm, easy to digest, and light but still satisfying. Also, as the seasons change, it is traditionally important to allow the body to adjust to these subtle differences, and kitchari is a great help in that.
In The Ashram, every Monday we serve kitchari for breakfast, lunch and dinner as a way to give our bodies a break from digesting all that marvellous food we normally get, and yet not require a complete fast (we reserve doing THAT for Ekadashi days!). And a light, warm dish with fragrant spices makes good sense from an Ayurvedic point of view.
Here are a few reasons why you might want to include kitchari in your daily diet, too:
- To relieve and detoxify your body and mind.
- To lose weight without the yo-yo effect after fasting.
- You are one of those people who find it difficult to cope with everyday life without food, you’d still like to fast.
- You don’t have time to cook a full dinner, but you still want something warm and filling (with leftovers for breakfast).
If you know your Ayurvedic constitution, you can vary the cooking instructions accordingly: Vata and Pitta constitutions can cook kitchari more firmly, while Kapha constitutions with a slower metabolism should cook a more liquid kitchari.
The Breakfast of Champions
Kitchari is the perfect alternative for breakfast, especially for people who cannot tolerate gluten or do not want to eat it. Rich in protein and iron, it has many advantages over bread. Blood sugar rises less quickly, it is easier to digest and contains iron. If kitchari is used for breakfast or a light dinner, it should be more compact and may contain vegetables and raisins in addition to the basics. It is important that the pulses are cooked to become very soft and do not have a hard kernel, so that less stress is caused to the body.
A Fast Way to Healing
While total fasting or other fasting systems are not suitable for everyone, kitchari is beneficial for every constitution. If kitchari is used as a healing or fasting food, white basmati rice and yellow, peeled mung beans are ideal, as both are easier to digest. For fasting, the kitchari should be more liquid and less strongly spiced, as well.
A complete Ayurvedic kitchari fasting cure cleanses the liver, relieves the digestion, and helps the body to rid the tissues of toxic substances. (For more details about a total fasting regimen with kitchari, please talk to your local Ayurvedic professional for the best advice on how to go about it according to your doshas.)
Make it yourself
What You'll Need
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 cup mung dal (split yellow)
- 6 cups water (approximately, add more if needed)
- 1-2.5 cm ginger root, chopped or grated
- 2 tsp. oil
- 1 tsp. ground coriander seeds
- 1 tsp. ground cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
- 3 tsp. turmeric powder
- 2 tsp. salt
- Handful of fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 lime
NOTE: Kitchari can also be made with lentils instead of mung beans, and the proportion of rice and pulses may also be slightly changed if kitchari is part of normal everyday diet.
Step by Step
- In a soup pot, sauté the spices in the oil. Stir to release the flavors, then add ginger.
- Wash and rinse the rice and dal separately in at least 2 changes of water.
- Add rice, dal and water. Cook until the dal becomes soft, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Add salt and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve with a slice of lime.
The Final Result
And with that, you now have another wonderful recipe to add to your favourites. Try it, vary it, garnish it, make it part of your weekly meals, and let us know what YOU do to make kitchari a new staple of your healthy diet.
Share your experience, tag us in your stories, and let us know how you make it your own in the comments below.