Kitchari: The Essential & Delicious Ayurvedic Dish

Beyond all other Indian meals, there is one considered to facilitate spiritual growth and effectively detox the body.

Kitchari, pronounced Kich-ah-ree, 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. Everyone should eat Kitchari at least a couple to a few times a week to reset digestion and nourish your body and mind.

Ingredients:

Split yellow mung beans along with a long grain white, basmati, or red rice and a blend of traditional Indian spices.

Why White Rice?

White Rice is easier to digest because the husk has been milled off. While brown rice supplies more nutrients, 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.

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.

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 it a complete protein. Generally when you mix grain and legume/lentil, you get complete protein.

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.

 

Basic Equation:

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 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.

 

Kitchari Recipe

You can play around with the quantities and types of spices according to taste, body constitution and season.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1 heaped tsp salt
  • 1 whole onion (finely chopped)
  • 1-3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 4-8 cups of water (can be adjusted according to how long you soak for and desired consistency).

Method:

  1. Wash mung and rice then Soak for 1-2 hours in water.
  2. Strain mung & rice, add (approx. 8 cups of water) in a pot and cook. May need to add more water as you go.
  3. 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).
  4. Saute cumin, fennel, curry leaves, fresh ginger and any other herbs (not powdered herbs) in ghee until the seeds start to pop.
  5. Add onion & garlic (chopped finely) and cook until slightly golden.
  6. Add your "final spices" to the pan - turmeric + pinch of black pepper + salt + hing and fry for less thirty seconds.
  7. Add pan-fried herbs to dahl and rice and mix well, infusing the spices in the dahl and rice.
  8. Cook and continue to stir for a little while. May need to add more water in till desired texture.
  9. Garnish with fresh lemon, black salt and fresh coriander.

Notes:

  • Diarrhoea or inflammation in the gut - 2 parts rice, 1 part yellow mung
  • If feeling depleted or constipation: 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!

Ragi (Finger Millet) Porridge Recipe

What is Ragi?

Ragi, also known as 'finger millet' is a popular cereal grown throughout Africa and Asia. It was introduced to India 4000 years ago and is grown in the Himalayas. It is generally purchased as a very fine pinky/brown flour which can be prepared as breads, dosas, porridges, puddings and cakes. It is an awesome and delicious flour in its own right.

Properties of Ragi (Ayurvedic perspective)

Rasa (Taste): Sweet
Virya (Action): Heating
Vipaka (Post-digestive effect): Sweet
Gunas (Qualities): Dry, Light
Doshas: Balances Kapha, increases Vata and Pitta in excess.

Medicinal Qualities

  • Easy to digest
  • Nourishing
  • Treats high cholesterol, dull agni (digestive fire), diabetes, excess weight, and other excess kapha (mucus/fluid), (All millets have these actions.).

Where do I get it?

Raggi is not common in Australia (yet). You will find it in an Indian Grocery.

Ragi Porridge Recipe

PS. there is no chocolate, I swear, but it is tastier than chocolate, a little like a subtle cacao. The ragi roasted in ghee is what makes it look like melted chocolate.

Gluten Free
Serves 1

Ingredients:

  1. 2-3 tbsp ghee – ragi is quite drying, so will need to use plenty of ghee, vata constituents especially.
  2. 1⁄4 cup raggi flour
  3. 1⁄4 cup un-homogenised organic milk
  4. 1⁄2 cup boiling water
  5. 2 tsp raw/rapadura sugar or jaggery – kapha constitution can have less.
  6. a generous pinch of ground cardamom & ground cinnamon
  7. pinch of slippery elm bark powder (optional to lubricate bowels)
  8. crushed cashews or macadamia nuts or almonds (optional for more protein and to fill one up more)

 

Method:

  1. Melt the ghee in a medium sized pot over low-moderate heat. 

2. Once the ghee is melted and warm, add the raggi flour. 

3. Toast the ragi flour in the ghee for 2-3 mins until the grain turns a deep chocolate colour.

4. Remove the pot from the flame and add all of the milk then all of the boiling water, being careful of any steam or splatter that is created.5. Return the pot to the flame and gently bring to a simmer stirring continuously and vigorously with a whisk to avoid lumps.

6. Add crushed nuts (optional, for more protein).

7. The raggi will thicken suddenly. If it gets too thick, add some more boiling water until the porridge is a thick soupy consistency.

8. Keep simmering for several minutes then add the sugar/jaggery and spices and stir through.


9. Remove from the flame and let it rest for a few minutes. Serve warm.

How I got into Ragi

My friend Nikki was shopping at the Indian grocery and asked me if I wanted anything. I asked her to get me Buckwheat flour so I could make my delicious Buckwheat Pancakesbut since all the flours were labelled in Hindi, she accidentally bought me Ragi. I didn't even know it wasn't buckwheat until I made the pancakes, as they were a lot drier causing me to use load more ghee.

So I researched it on the internet and mostly came across articles saying how good it was for babies. I then came across this lovely recipe from the Mudita Institute in Byron Shire. I have tweaked it a little. It has been my favourite porridge ever since. Thanks Nikki!

This grain is defiantly worth the trip to the Indian grocery! plus you'll find other treasures.

A Sweet start to the day is the nourishing way, and the Agni gently wakes up and in balance, says G'day!