I LOVE kitchari. The first time I ate it was while co-hosting an Ayurvedic Yoga retreat back in 2010. A combination of rice, mung beans, and spices, this easy-to-cook recipe is a great option when you want warm, comfort food without feeling like you just ate two full plates at Thanksgiving.
Below is a basic tridoshic version of the dish. This variation means it’s great for almost anyone and can be tweaked for specific imbalances.
Here’s the basic recipe (from Ayurvedic Cooking For Self-Healing by Usha Lad and Dr. Vasant Lad):
1 cup yellow mung dal (split beans are preferred rather than whole)
1 cup basmati rice
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
2 tbsp shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 small handful of fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup water
3 tbsp ghee (or dairy alternative)
1 ½ inch piece of cinnamon bark
5 whole cardamom pods
5 whole cloves
10 black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp salt
6 cups water
Wash the mung dal and rice until the water is clear. Soaking the dal for a few hours ahead of time helps with digestibility (but if you don’t do it, no biggie).
In a blender, put the ginger, coconut, cilantro, and ½ cup of water and blend until liquefied. Put aside.
Heat a large saucepan on medium heat and add the ghee, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Stir for a moment until fragrant.
Add the blended items to the spices, then the turmeric and salt. Stir until lightly browned.
Stir in the mung dal and rice and mix very well.
Pour in the 6 cups of water, cover, and bring to a boil. Let boil for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat to very low and cook, lightly covered, until the dal and rice are soft, about 30 minutes.
Okay, that was the Lads’ version, and it’s a fantastic one. Here are my tweaks that I’ve done through the years:
*If it’s cold outside or you’re feeling sluggish, add a little more of the heating spices (cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, and ginger). Cayenne can be added to taste as well.
*If you’re not in the mood for the cilantro/coconut liquid part of the recipe, it can totally be omitted. But if you’re a fiery person already, keep it in as it helps balance out the heating spices.
*Speaking of fiery people, if it’s too spicy for you (either by taste or you find yourself getting more edgy after eating it), decrease the amount of the heating spices.
*If you don’t have ghee (clarified butter), you can use regular butter. Ghee is preferred, but it’s not a deal-breaker. Also, if you’re like me and have a dairy allergy, you can sub in fake butter (I like oat milk butter) or even avocado oil.
*By melting the butter and then adding in the spices, you give the spices the opportunity to release their magical, healing components. Don’t skip this part.
*If you don’t want to have to fish out all of the peppercorns, cardamom pods, etc. while eating, I’ve found a (slightly messy) hack: First I saute’ all of the spices in the ghee. After about a minute, I’ll turn off the heat and scoop out all the pieces and put them into an empty tea bag. After I’ve added in all of the other ingredients, I’ll put the spice-filled tea bag back into the pot and let them do their thing in a more consolidated fashion.
*After I’ve filled my bowl with this yumminess and I’m ready to eat, I’ll add in some extra butter (in my case, the fake kind) and a bit more salt to taste.
*The consistency can change, so don’t be surprised if sometimes it’s more fluffy like rice and others it’s more of a porridge texture.
*Because we live in a toxic world and our food is our medicine, use organic everything when possible.
This dish makes a great solo meal as is. You can also have it as a side dish or even add cooked veggies to it once it’s ready.
One of the biggest things I love about this dish is that I feel like I’m eating a bowl of comfort food (think: mac n cheese or mashed potatoes), but I don’t have the residual food coma afterward.
Give this recipe a try and then let me know what you think. Also, if you create your own version, please share!