Beyond all other Indian meals, there is one considered to facilitate spiritual growth and effectively detox the body.
Kitchari, properly pronounced Kich-ah-ree, is a Hindi name.
Telegu name: Khara Pongal (Telegu people make delicious Kitchari or Pongal!)
Sanskrit names: Kṛśarā (कृशरा) / Vilepī (विलेपी) (a rice gruel that is more solid than Peya)
Kitchari, has long been used to nourish babies and the elderly, the sick, and the healthy during special times of detox, cleansing, and deep spiritual practice.
A simple porridge like blend of lentils, rice and spices, kitchari is a comfort and health food that has many nourishing and cleansing benefits.
Mostly everyone should eat Kitchari at least a couple to a few times a week to reset digestion and nourish your body and mind.
- Split yellow mung beans (with or without the skin)
- Rice – a local rice like white, sona masuri, red, brown or wild. (Traditionally, it is a light, easy-to-digest rice such as white).
- Blend of traditional Indian spices.
- Seasonal Vegetables – optional to add to kitchari. Although vegetables are not part of traditional kitchari.
There are other preparations of Kitchari made with milk or sesame, but this is not what we are talking about here.
Why White Rice?
White Rice is easier to digest because the husk has been milled off. While brown rice supplies more nutrients and good fibre, the husk makes brown rice a little harder to digest. During cleansing, it is important to be gentle on an already compromised digestion. Generally brown rice is also ok.
Red Rice is the best choice because it is most easily digested and is high in B12.
Obtaining a local rice is perhaps the most important.
Why Split Yellow Mung Beans?
These are the only legumes that are “vata balancing.” This means that, unlike every other type of beans or lentils, they will not produce any intestinal gas.
They naturally are much easier to cook, digest, and assimilate, especially after soaking!
Complete and Perfect Protein
The combination of rice and legumes have been a stable around the world for thousands of years, and for a good reason. All the essential amino acids that we need are provided by both of these together, making this combination a source of complete proteins. Generally when you mix grain and legume/lentil, you get complete proteins.
Kitchari for Cleansing
During a cleanse, it is essential to have adequate protein to keep the blood sugar stable and the body burning fat.
One of the most common reasons folks have trouble with cleansing is due to unstable blood sugars made worse by the detox process.
Look at a liquid fast for example, people are asked to drink only water, juice or veggies. For many, this type of fasting can be a strain and deplete blood sugar reserves. Then folks get really hungry, irritable, and end up with a (low blood sugar) headache or crash. The body cannot shift to fat metabolism and detox the fat cells (purpose of a cleanse) if the body is under stress and strain as a result of a difficult fast.
The Vital Short Home Cleanse
During this cleanse, Kitchari is your staple.
Stress = Fat Storing
No Stress = Fat Burning
So when you are cleansing, to detox heavy metals, preservatives, chemicals, pesticides and environmental toxins (which are stored in your fat cells), make sure you do not strain! Same goes with exercise.
“No Pain No Gain” is a myth and is actually counter-productive.
Fat burning is not just to loose weight, that is just a side effective. Burning fat enhances mood stability, good sleep, increases cognitive function, less cravings, balances acidity and maintains stable and calm energy levels throughout the day.
During a cleanse you can eat kitchari daily, even for 2-3 meals a day. If you do this, you sure can change it up by adding in veges or some lean meat.
Kitchari to Heal Digestion
In India, kitchari is often one of the first food for babies, not only because it is so easy to digest, it also heals and soothes the intestinal wall.
With 95 percent of the body’s serotonin produced in the gut, it is clear we process our stress through the intestinal wall. Chronic stress will irritate the intestinal wall and compromise digestion, the ability to detoxify through the gut, and cope with stress. During a kitchari cleanse, the digestive system can rest while being provided the nutrition needed to heal the gut and nourish the body.
You can play around with the quantities and types of spices according to taste, body constitution and season.
- 2 Tbsp of ghee (inferior is coconut oil) – use more ghee if you are doing the Vital Short Home Cleanse.
- 1/2 cup of split yellow mung dahl
- 1/2 cup of white rice or red rice
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 5 Tbsp freshly grated ginger (to taste)
- 1tsp turmeric powder
- pinch of black pepper.
- 2-3 pinches of asafoetida (optional)
- 10 curry leaves
- 1 heaped tsp salt
- 1 whole onion (finely chopped) (optional)
- 1-3 garlic cloves (finely chopped) (optional)
- 4-8 cups of water (can be adjusted according to how long you soak for and desired consistency).
- Vegetables – leafy greens and a root vegetables finely chopped (optional)
- Wash mung and rice then Soak for 2-10 hours in water.
- Strain mung & rice, add (approx. 8 cups of water) in a pot and cook. You may need to add more water as you go.
- If adding vegetables, add your choice of root vegetable early on when the rice and mung is nearly finished cooking (press the beans to access their cooked status).
- In a separate heavy-bottomed pan, add ghee on medium heat. Do this when the mung+ rice is nearly finished being cooked (after approximately 5-10 mins. This depends on heat and how long you soaked the dal and rice).
- Saute cumin, fennel, curry leaves, fresh ginger and any other herbs (not powdered herbs) in ghee until the seeds start to pop.
- Add onion & garlic (chopped finely) and cook until slightly golden.
- Add your “final spices” to the pan – turmeric + pinch of black pepper + salt + hing and fry for less than thirty seconds.
- Add pan-fried herbs to dahl and rice and mix well, infusing the spices in the dahl and rice.
- Cook and continue to stir for a little while. You may need to add more water in for your desired texture.
- Turn stove off.
- add leafy greens (optional) and mix in well, allowing the heat of the pot of food to gentle cook the leafy greens.
- Garnish with fresh lemon, black salt and fresh coriander and serve.
- Diarrhoea or inflammation in the gut – 2 parts rice, 1 part yellow mung
- If feeling depleted or constipatedn: 2 yellow mung, 1 rice
- Balanced state: an equal ratio of mung and rice.
- If having kitchari for dinner, best to not eat anything after (desert or milk) for full medicinal effect.
- Can add steamed vegetables or lean meat when not cleansing or for extra blood sugar support during a cleanse. (Although this isn’t real kitchari).
Kitchari: A New Favourite in Your Kitchen
Make kitchari when you are sick, when you are sad, when you are cleansing, for your kids or a loved one when they are not feeling 100%, when you can’t be bothered to cook, when your not fully grounded from travelling, when you need to regain your strength, or when you are feeling on top of the world!
You’ll be surprised how warming and comforting it is, and soon it’ll be the stuff you crave!