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Kitchari

Serves 4

In so many cultures around the world, the combination of rice and a legume is a staple dish because it’s accessible, inexpensive, filling, and very nutritious. In fact, from a scientific standpoint the combination of these ingredients forms a complete plant-based protein that is easily digested and full of fibre and other nutrients, depending on the type of rice and legume chosen. In India, this combination is called “kitchari” (pronounced kich-a-ree) and is a traditional dish in almost every home dating back to ancient times. It’s made of white basmati rice and split yellow mung beans (“split yellow dal” on some packages) cooked to a porridge-like consistency with ginger and spices. While kitchari can be served on any day in an Indian household, it’s considered a detox food for those practicing Ayurveda as it gives simple, easy-to-digest sustenance during spiritual cleanses, and is fortified with vegetables according to one’s dosha. It’s also used to nourish babies, the elderly, and the sick, and is spiced according to the needs of the person being served. For example, if the kitchari is for an everyday meal it can be spiced more heavily; but for someone who’s unwell you’d stick to the simpler seasoning outlined below in my recipe.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 cup yellow split mung dal
  • ½ cup white basmati rice
  • 2 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon asafoetida (aka “hing” spice)
  • 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups sweet potato, peeled and diced small (approx. 1 medium-sized potato)
  • 4 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Without combining the two ingredients, carefully pick through rice and dal for any stones. Separately, rinse both in several changes of cold water until water runs clear.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add coconut oil and cumin seeds. Toast 1-2 minutes until fragrant, stirring often. Add coriander, asafoetida, ginger, and sweet potato. Stir to combine.
  3. Add water/stock, salt, rice, and dal. Stir to combine and increase heat to high to bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook approximately 25-30 minutes until rice is cooked through and the mixture is porridge-like in consistency. Check every now and then for ingredients sticking to the bottom of the pan and stir or adjust heat as needed. Season to taste and serve hot.
  4. A note about reheating your kitchari: I find that the mixture loses its soupiness the next day, so stir in a little bit of water as you reheat to achieve the preferred consistency.