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by Andrew Shakeshaft December 17, 2016

Kitchari – one pot meal for the soul…..

Kitchari is one of Ayurveda’s greatest gifts to our health because it is a comfort food and a cleansing practice all in one! Plus, it is really easy to make and once you have the ingredients in your store cupboard you can make kitchari anytime.

Kitchari is a simple dish of lentils and rice cooked together with spices to a porridge or soupy, risotto like consistency. It is India’s comfort food, often the first solid food given to babies and it’s also used to heal the sick and keep the elderly strong. Kitchari has to be made with specific lentils and rice for the cleansing and healing benefits. These are yellow split mung beans and long-grain white basmati rice.

Why white rice when brown rice has more nutrients?

Brown rice has the tough husk surrounding the rice grain intact and does have high nutritional value. However, kitchari is food for healing and resetting our digestion - whether it is part of a cleansing program, during illness or just giving our digestion a break after a little too much indulgence. During a cleanse the metabolism slows down and digestion becomes weaker, so for this reason the emphasis is on food that is easily digestible. The husk found in brown rice is more difficult to digest and can irritate the intestinal lining causing gas and abdominal pain. Long-grain rice is used over short-grain rice because it has higher nutritional value and a lower glycaemic index.

Can I use any type of lentil?

Yellow split mung beans are the only legume that are classified as Vata balancing which means they don’t produce intestinal gas in the body. Split mung are the green whole mung beans that have been hulled and split making them easy to digest whilst still having healing properties of mung beans. Mung beans are a high source of nutrients including manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, copper zinc and various B vitamins. They are also believed to reduce inflammation.

However it’s the combination of the lentils and rice cooked together with digestive spices where the magic is created! Together they create the perfect protein providing the 10 essential amino acids our bodies cannot make and we must get from our food. This also means that eating Kitchari as part of a mono- diet cleansing program makes for a very comfortable experience. Kitchari is very nourishing, satisfying and keeps blood sugars stable so less headaches and sugar crashes. In fact a few days on kitchari and you will feel much calmer and centered which is why kitchari has also been traditionally the food to accompany spiritual development.  Kitchari is not only cleansing but very healing too, soothing the intestinal wall and healing the gut. You’ll soon come to love the soft belly feeling after a meal of kitchari.

When to eat kitchari?

  • As part of a cleansing program
  • A couple of times a week to give your digestion a rest and boost
  • When you want to lose a few pounds and feel energised and healthy too
  • To reset your digestive power after a foodie celebration
  • As preventative when you don’t want to catch that cold going around friends and family
  • As part of a balanced diet

How to make kitchari:

Serves 2-3

Kitchari is a wonderfully balancing meal that is suitable for all body types. It is light to digest and very nourishing.

2 tbsp ghee

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 cup basmati rice

½  cup split mung dal

5-6 cups of water

1 tsp grated, fresh ginger

½ tsp turmeric

½ - 1 tsp salt

2 tsp cumin powder

2  tsp coriander seed powder

1 pinch of hing (asafoetida) or ½ tsp of Hingwastak powder

2 tsp garam masala powder

Chopped fresh coriander leaves.

1.Put the rice and split mung dal in a sieve and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear.

  1. Melt 1 tsp of ghee in a medium to large saucepan. Once hot add the cumin seeds and fry for 2 minutes on a gentle heat until darker brown and giving off a nice aroma.

3.Add the washed mung dal and rice and mix with the cumin seeds.

4.Add 5-6 cups of water to the pan and bring to the boil. As it reaches boiling skim off the white froth on the surface of the water. Add grated ginger, turmeric and salt. Cover and simmer gently until the dal becomes soft.

  1. Once the mung dal is soft, warm the remaining ghee in a small saucepan. Sauté the hing, cumin powder, coriander powder and garam masala for a couple of minutes. Stir in the sautéed spices to the almost cooked rice and dal and continue simmering until ready.
  2. Add fresh coriander leaves before serving.

Bon apetite!

Andrew Shakeshaft
Andrew Shakeshaft

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