Kitcheree the one pot Ayurvedic cleansing food
Kitcheree (also spelled Kitchari) is a traditional Ayurvedic cleansing food. This one pot dish has so many benefits you might even call it a super food!
The science of Ayurveda believes that most diseases begin in the gut. A healthy digestive system is the principal to good health and wellness. Kitcheree is regarded as a healing food because it is so easy to digest. The digestive system is able to rest which means your body can focus on regeneration rather than on digestion. Kitcheree nourishes all the tissues of the body and provides strength and vitality.
Known for its cleansing qualities, eating Kitcheree is highly recommended if you are going through a cleanse or detox program. For a detox at home, you may choose to eat Kitcheree for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You would eat it for a period of three to five days to give your digestive system a rest and reset.
On a more intensive cleanse, for example a Panchakarma (Ayurvedic cleanse) or Shankhaprakshalana (yogic cleansing of the entire digestive tract) you would likely be served Kitcheree as part of the program.
A food staple for many
Kitcheree isn’t just eaten as part of a cleanse or detox program. It is a staple meal for many yogis and vegetarians alike because it contains all three macronutrients. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Nutritionally, Kitcheree creates a complete balanced meal. It is a brilliant source of protein which is important because it helps to keep the blood sugar and our mood stable.
If you are not familiar with this dish it is traditionally made with a combination of basmati rice and mung dhal mixture. The basmati rice (Carbohydrate) is easy to digest and the dhal provides a high level of protein.
Ghee is traditionally used as the ‘oil’ component but if you are Vegan, a vegetable, sunflower or seed-based oil can be used. The oil provides the lubricant that also aids the digestion process.
Different combinations of spices are used depending on your Ayurvedic constitution. If you are going through a cleanse, then the spices are removed. The spice “chuna,” we introduce to Kitcheree sparks our Agni, our digestive fire.
Versatile and delicious!
For Ram and me, we eat it regularly for its nutritional qualities. But also because it is one of those easy to prepare meals. Kitcheree is comforting and warming and cheap to make. And it is delicious! We usually cook enough so we can eat it again the next day!
We also like to add some seasonal vegetables to our Kitcheree. This helps to boost the vitamin content of the dish.
There are different variations of this staple food, and different lentil or beans that can be used. Generally, it is basmati rice and mung dal. We love to use mung beans.
Everyone we know who cooks Kitcheree has their own favourite variation or way to prepare.
Proportions are usually 2-part rice to 1 part of dhal, (Ram’s version) I like to use 2/3 beans to 1/3 rice. But both these and the spices used can be varied according to need and Ayurveda constitution.
Here’s Ram’s version of Kitcheree
Ram’s Kitcheree (serves 4)
1 cup Mung beans. (Soaked overnight, you can use mung dal, or red lentils).
1 cup basmati rice.
½ cup Sunflower oil. (You can use “ghee” but it won’t be vegan)
1 ½ inch piece of fresh ginger (pealed & chopped finely)
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black pepper powder
2 bay leaves
1 stick of cinnamon (if small use 2)
4 whole cardamon pods (split)
½ tsp Asafoetida (hing) (Asafoetida can be found in good Indian grocery stores, if you don’t have it, it can be left out).
½ tsp cayenne.
Salt (to taste)
6 cups Vegetarian stock or water (heated)
2 cups of carrots (small dices)
2 cups of broccoli or cauliflower (small florets).
You can add any other vegetables, like potato/sweet potato or pumpkin.
Small handful of fresh coriander, chopped.
- Soak the mung beans overnight, this will help to aid the digestion process.
- Make a vegetarian stock with vegetable scraps and peelings. (If you don’t have time you can use a store-based vegetable stock or use hot water).
- Wash the mung beans and the basmati rice until the water runs clear.
- Heat a pot on medium heat and add the oil (or ghee). Then add finely chopped ginger, stir for a moment and then add the black mustards and cumin seeds. When they start to pop add the turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon barks, cloves, cardamon and hing.
- Stir for a couple of minutes and then add the basmati rice and the mung beans, stirring very well until all is mixed together.
- Next, add the hot vegetarian stock (or water), cover and bring to the boil. Let it boil for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat very low to a simmer. Lightly cover the pan.
- It is important to give the mixture a stir every 5 minutes, so it doesn’t get stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- When it has been simmering for about 15 minutes, add the carrots and continue to keep stirring every 5 minutes.
- After 15 minutes more add the broccoli or cauliflower. Keep a close eye on it for another 5 minutes.
- You can add a little more stock of water if it is needed or if you want a runnier consistency.
- Add salt to taste and turn off the heat.
- Sprinkle with the chopped coriander and serve.
- You can serve Kitcheree on its own. With a dollop of yoghurt, (we use coconut yoghurt) and a squeeze of lemon.
- IF you are using ghee, it’s also nice to serve with a little melted ghee on top.
- We also serve ours with Sauerkraut or a nice tomato Kasundi.
- You can serve with a leaf side salad.
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