What is kitchari made of and what makes it a staple in Ayurvedic cuisine?
I’m just fresh off the spring ayurvedic cleanse wagon where the mung bean is king. The cleanse was, once again, exactly what I needed to reset, both mentally and physically. Water retention – gone, energy – increased, mental clarity – enhanced. And once again, kitchari was many times my go-to recipe in the pre-cleanse prep and after-cleanse care. So, what is kitchari and what is it made of?
Kitchari is a traditional Ayurvedic meal made of rice and mung beans with different spices, based on your predominant dosha. Top it with some toasted sesame seeds and serve it with a side of chutney and you’ll have a meal that’s simple, easy to digest, and full of protein. My favorite is Dr. Lad’s tridoshic kitchari (recipe below) served with Divya Alter’s masala greens.
Mung bean is king
What makes the mung bean such a powerful food is its ability to scrape the body of toxins while being very easy to digest. This ability is exactly what makes it the perfect food to give your gut a break. On top of that, they are also packed with vitamins and minerals like vitamins B9, B1, and B3, magnesium, iron, and selenium.
Mung beans, known also as mung dahl, are also rich in essential amino acids, being considered among the best plant-based sources of protein out there. Reason enough to add it to your diet, that is.
What is Kitchari?
Kitchari means mixture, usually of 2 grains. Rice and mung beans are mixed together with various spices into a warm and fragrant meal. It doesn’t sound like your regular dry, raw, and cold cleansing foods, now does it? What’s more, rice and mung beans together make a complete protein, meaning that it supports blood sugar levels, ultimately balancing energy and mental clarity during the cleansing process.
Outside the cleansing process, it is just as beneficial for your body. Besides all the nutrients kitchari is rich in, it also helps improve digestion due to the spice mix that goes into it, is balancing for all three doshas, and helps in weight management.
Without further ado, find below my favorite go-to kitchari recipe that you can eat alone or accompanied by sauteed vegetables.
1 cup yellow split mung dal, preferably soaked for a couple of hours and washed three times
1 cup rice, washed three times
3 tablespoons ghee
A pinch asafoetida (hing)
4 bay leaves
4 small pieces cinnamon bark
4 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
6 cups of water
Heat a saucepan on medium and then add the ghee to the pan. Put the spices in when it’s hot together with a pinch of asafoetida, and stir until fragrant. Now mix in the rice, mung dal, and water, and add some salt. Bring it to a boil for about 5 minutes, then cover and cook on low heat for about 25-30 minutes.
Garnish with coriander leaves, if using, and serve with a side of vegetables or the chutney of your choice. Equally nourishing, enjoy on its own for a warm lunch or dinner.