Kitchari is the perfect dish for the spring season. Spring is the season of detoxification and this delicious dish is a great way to give your body a much-needed break while it works on resting your digestion it gently promotes detoxification from winter accumulations and the holidays!
Kitchari is balancing to all three doshas and can be jazzed up, spiced up, or flavored in ways appealing to your taste buds and personal needs. To make kitchari you start with basmati rice and lentils or dal. This combination creates a dish that is easy to digest and is nourishing to the body. A bowl of rice and lentils by themselves may not sound too appetizing and that’s why you can add in any variety of veggies, spices, and even meat into the mix.
When making Kitchari for the whole family or a group of friends it’s a great idea to make a batch that is balancing and pleasing to all three doshas and putting out extras or condiments to later add into the dish.
To create a basic Kitchari, start by soaking 1 cup of split yellow mung dal or red lentils. It’s best to allow them to soak for a few hours or overnight, this allows the dal or lentils to soften ensuring you have a soft and easily digestible final product. After soaking you want to place them in a strainer and wash them thoroughly.
In a large saucepan on medium heat add your ghee or high heat oil then spices. We enjoy mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds. Allow the seeds to simmer in the hot ghee until the mustard seeds pop and the others lightly brown. This allows the full aromas of the seeds to blend in with the meal.
Once the seeds have opened up and filled the air with their lovely aroma you can add in your rice, dal, veggies, and other spices. Gently stir and coat them with the seeds and oil.You can add any veggies your heart desires to this dish or tailor it to your doshic needs, we enjoy seasonals like asparagus, spinach, and root veggies.
Pour in your water and bring to a boil. Let the pan boil for 5 minutes before turning it down low. Cover the pot and allow it to cook for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the lentils and rice are tender.
Your dinner crowd may define what powdered spices and condiments you add to your kitchari in the last 10 minutes of cooking. For pitta soothing add turmeric, cumin, and fennel powder with shredded coconut or chopped cilantro garnish. For vata and Kapha soothing add a tiny pinch of Hing, ginger powder and garam masala, perhaps more of the heating spices like ginger and pepper, even cayenne for Kapha. Salt can also be added at this time.
Some further ways to jazz up your kitchari are by garnishing it with things that will make your mouth and belly happy!
For the Vata predominant folks out there you can add yogurt or ghee for extra moisture or warm things up with a squeeze of lime.
Pitta predominates folks might enjoy the soothing and cooling freshness of lime and cilantro added to the kitchari. Coconut milk is also a wonderful additive that cools down the spices and can also be added in while cooking.
To kick up the spice and get things moving Kapha predominant folks may enjoy adding an extra pinch hing, ginger powder, cinnamon or clove.
You could even get creative by adding chipotle, chicken, shredded coconut, or anything else. Kitchari is a wonderful dish to be expressive with!
We hope that this inspires you to get in the kitchen and whip up a big batch of kitchari that you and the whole family can enjoy.
Basic Kitchari Recipe
This recipe is just for the base, add in seasonal vegetables or favorites like zucchini, asparagus or sweet potato. You can also add coconut milk, or other spices to the dish as well as adding cooked meats to the dish once its cooked.
1 cup basmati rice
1 cup mung dal or lentils
5-6 cups water
3 tsp. ghee
½ tsp. coriander seeds
½ tsp. cumin seeds
¼ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
½ to 1-inch fresh ginger root, chopped or grated
¼ tsp – ½ tsp rock or sea salt
Optional: Assorted veggies, coconut milk, shredded coconut, cilantro lime and yogurt to garnish.
And of course, no kitchari is complete without its counterpart the papadam. If you are eating kitchari for a cleanse, I’m sorry to say it, but you’ll want to pass on the papadams. But if you’re making it as a diner to share with friends, papadams are a tasty crunchy gluten-free cracker that provides the perfect vehicle for eating your kitchari. Papadam can be found at most grocery stores in the ethnic section of the store.