I love taking traditional recipes and tweaking them to a healthier version. My mom’s potato salad gets dressed in goat yogurt instead of mayo in my Potato Salad With Goat Yogurt And Dill recipe, the classic Cinnabon roll is made into wholesome apple muffins in my Apple Cinnabon Muffin recipe. So when I learned about the traditional Ayurvedic recipe kitchari, which is used to heal the digestive system and used in ayurvedic cleanses, you’d think I would have nothing to improve, but nope, I was at it again, making it even more digestible and more full of nutrients. The result is an amazing, nourishing one pot meal that you can go to again and again.
Traditionally Kitchari is made from basmati white rice and split mung beans. The name Kitchari literary means “mixture” or “mess” and that is because the dish is cooked to a soft and mushy consistency. It is considered to be India’s comfort food, similar to chicken soup. In Ayurveda it is used to heal the digestive system, to cleanse and to recover from illnesses and injuries. It is also being used as an Ayurvedic mono-diet, which is eating the same food for a few days for ease of digestion. My version includes a variety of nutrients and can be used as a mono-diet (eating only Kitchari) for a day or two.
I followed the traditional recipe in this dish but used brown basmati rice instead of white and whole mung beans instead of split. I soaked the rice and the beans (separately) overnight to make them even easier to digest. I also added lots of vegetables to the recipe. Here it is:
1 cup mung beans, rinsed, soaked overnight and drained
1 cup brown basmati rice, rinsed, soaked overnight and drained
In a large pot, heat up a tablespoon of coconut oil
Add 1 large onion, finely diced and sauté for 3-4 minutes
Add 3 cloves of garlic, minced, 1 teaspoon of fresh grated turmeric (or 1/3 teaspoon dry), 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika (or chili), 1 tablespoon of dry coriander leaves, pepper to taste
Sauté the onion and spices in the oil for about a minute
Add the drained rice and beans and mix well to coat them with the oil and spices
Add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes until the beans are soft
Add 2-3 cups of chopped vegetables, I used carrots, celery and bok choi
Add salt to taste
Cook for another 10 minutes
Turn heat off and wait 5 minutes
Serve hot, warm or at room temperature
This is a great dish for all seasons:
In the winter make it with a little more oil and salt, serve it hot and use root vegetables like parsnips, turnips and rutabaga.
In the summer make it lighter, use summer produce like corn, tomatoes and zucchini and serve it on top of salad or in a lettuce wrap.
You can use any combination of vegetables you like.
You can use any grain-bean combo. Try: millet and lentils or kasha and split peas. Use smaller beans like mung, aduki, lentils and split peas, they are easy to digest.
You can adjust the amount of water to make it more like a stew or more like a soup.
There are many versions of Kitcheri, so make your own version with your favorite flavors and ingredients. Be creative and have fun.
I would love to hear what you tried, please comment below.
Enjoy and share with someone you love.