Kitchari is one of the most balancing foods in the practice of Ayurveda. It‘s lightness, softness, and neutrality of flavor make it a perfect fit for nourishing the body any time of year. It’s a complete, one-pot meal with a mixture of mung beans and rice, which are known to be more gentle on the digestive system. It makes a great lunch meal, or even a dinner meal for a family after a long day of work or school. I’ve made it on the stovetop as well as in the slow cooker, and both versions come out tasting fabulous! Oh, and by the way, it passes the kid test, or at least for my kids ; )! They love it!
Winter Kitchari uses vegetables typically in season during the colder months of the year, such as sweet potatoes, broccoli, greens (kale, spinach, collard), squash (any type, but butternut tastes amazing in this recipe), carrots, and parsnips. The longer you cook the Kitchari, the better it tastes and the easier it will be on the digestive system. It is said that Kitchari can be a healing food to help a reactive digestive system, one perhaps with a weakened digestive fire resulting from food insensitivities over time, to rest and recover.
To make a pot of Winter Kitchari, you’ll need:
6 cups of water
1 cup of basmati rice, rinsed well ( I like to mix both brown and white rice)
1/2 cup of yellow split mug beans, rinsed well and optionally soaked for an hour or so prior
2 cups of seasonal organic vegetables of your choice
Salt to taste (optional)
Fresh organic cilantro for garnish
1 tbsp *Ayurvedic spice mix (see below how to make this mix and keep on hand for other recipes)
If you’re using a slow cooker, you can add all of the ingredients, except any greens and the fresh cilantro) to the pot and set the slow cooker for 6-8 hours. About an hour before serving, add any greens that are part of your vegetables of choice (they don’t need as much time to cook). By the time you’re ready to serve, the greens should be soft and integrated into the Kitchari. Cooked this way, you can get everything ready and start the cooking process before work in the morning, and then look forward to a warm soothing dinner after a long day in the office! All you‘ll need to do is add the tempering before serving which only takes about 10 minutes.
If you’re using the stovetop to cook, first boil the water. Once boiled, add the rice and beans until boiling begins again. Once it starts to boil again, turn to down to low adding any vegetables that tend to take longer to cook (like root veggies). Add a lid and let simmer, keeping a watch for several minutes to see if any additional water is needed (ie. if the mixture is not submerged in water, then add some). Once the more dense vegetables are cooked, add any greens. Let simmer until the greens are fully integrated and there’s a soft, soupy consistency. Now you’re ready to make/add the tempering.
Once the Kitchari is finished cooking (whether in a slow cooker or on the stovetop) just before serving, add the tempering. This is what MAKES the Kitchari! Again, l love the taste the fennel adds, but feel free to adjust for your own preference.
To make the tempering you’ll need:
2 tbsp ghee (you can make your own, or buy at your local market)
1/2 tsp whole organic fennel seed (can be optional, if you’re not crazy about its flavor)
1/2 tsp whole organic coriander seed
1/2 tsp whole organic cumin seed
Melt the ghee in a small frying pan on the stovetop using low to medium heat. Once melted, add the spices, warming until you hear the seeds pop (my favorite part!). This usually takes about 3-4 minutes or so. Then, add this to your Kitchari, letting it stand for about 10 minutes or so allowing all of the flavors to soak in.
Dish out into your favorite bowls and serve garnished with fresh cilantro! Enjoy!!!
*Ayurvedic spice mix:
1 tbsp organic tumeric powder
1 tbsp organic whole cumin seed
1 tbsp organic whole coriander seed
1 1/2 tsp organic whole fennel seed
Using a mortar and pestle, add the whole cumin, coriander seed, and fennel seed and grind, then add the tumeric powder. Store in an air tight container for later use. For me, the fennel is everything in this spice mix! I think it makes the Kitchari, but such is not the case with everyone’s tastes. I’d recommend trying all the spices first, if you’re not familiar with their individual tastes, and then adjusting the spice mix to your own liking.