Kitchari: A Healing Food in Ayurveda
Kitchari is the classical Ayurvedic panacea, eaten whenever there is ill health or during a therapeutic regimen such as panch karma and detoxification. Essentially made from rice, kitchari is a universal food found in other cultures, with similar sounding names such as ‘kushari’ in the Middle East and ‘congee’ in China. There are an infinite array of variations, and based on the herbs and spices chosen, can be prepared to reduce vata, pitta or kapha. The following recipe is definitely more Indian-inspired, using herbs and spices to enhance digestion. Prepared with whole grain mung and brown rice, kitchari has a more detoxifying effect. Soak 1-2 hours and drain for before use.
Ingredients (checkout Todd’s book for fermenting method)
1 cup brown basmati rice (fermented, p. 127)
1 cup green mung dhal (fermented, p. 127)
8-10 cups water
2 tbsp ghee
2 tsp cumin
2-3 cinnamon sticks, broken into large pieces
10-12 cardamom pods, crushed
1 tsp whole black pepper
1/2 tsp hing powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Sea salt, to taste
Ferment (p. 127) the rice and mung beans and drain before use. In a large pot melt ghee over medium heat and add in cumin, cinnamon bark, cardamom pods, black pepper, hing, turmeric and salt. Stir for a few minutes and then add in rice and dhal, cooking for a few more minutes before adding in 8 cups water or stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 2-3 hours until the rice and dhal is soft. Whole grain kitchari is not necessarily ideal for those with weak digestion, and can be substituted with white basmati rice and washed mung dhal.
Asian kitchari is a variation on this recipe, substituting short grain brown rice for basmati rice, and adzuki bean for mung. Follow the same recipe but use flavors such as fresh ginger, garlic, seaweed and tamari. When it’s done mix in a couple tablespoons of miso paste and garnish with fresh chopped shiso leaf or cilantro.
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