Kitchari – Your Body’s Reset Button
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, it’s 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, which can be weakened by poor food combinations.
There are several variations to a basic kitchari recipe and the one below is basic, easy to start with, and balancing to all three doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha). You will find that the ingredients are readily available at most health food stores.
2-3 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ cup split yellow mung dal, rinsed well, soaked overnight and drained. (It is best to use mung dal with the hulls still on if you tend toward constipation)—you can also use green mung beans, whole or split.
1 tsp rock salt (Himalyan is best. It is the pink salt)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup white basmati rice, rinsed well and drained.
6 cups warm water
1 tsp coriander
4-5 thin slices of fresh ginger root
In a heavy – bottomed pot, heat the ghee on medium heat. Ghee burns easily, so be careful. Sauté the mustard seeds and cumin seeds in the ghee until the seeds pop. Then add the drained mung dal, turmeric and salt. Stir until the mix almost starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Then add the rice, water, coriander, and ginger. Stir well, making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pressure cooker or pot.
Cover and bring it to a boil on high heat. Then turn the heat down and let it simmer until both the rice and dal are mushy.
You may have to experiment with how much water you use to find a consistency that you like. (The more water, the thinner the consistency). A thinner consistency is preferable if your digestion is weak. You will notice that kitchari will thicken when it cools and you may need more water than you originally thought.
In order to provide the best quality of energy to your body, Kitchari should be made the day that you wish to eat it and served hot.
To balance your dosha add:
Fresh cilantro (great for pitta – ok for vata and kapha)
Coconut (great for pitta, good for vata, but not so good for kapha)
Lime (ok for everybody; unless pitta is very out of balance)