In Ayurveda, the ancient wisdom of India dating back 5,000 years, this mix of rice and mung beans is considered extremely easy to digest and is said to purify the digestion and cleanse the body of toxins. Ayurvedic physicians often prescribe a kitchari diet before, during, and after panchakarma, a rejuvenative treatment that cleanses toxins stored in bodily tissues as it restores systemic balance.
Kitchari provides solid nourishment while allowing the body to devote energy to healing. You can safely subsist on kitchari anytime in order to build vitality and strength as it helps balance all three doshas. For restless vata, the warm soup is grounding; for fiery pitta, its spices are calming; and for chilly kapha, it provides healing warmth.
According to Vasant Lad, in his book, The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, “A five-day kitchari fast, using plain kitchari with just some chopped cilantro leaves added, will cleanse the system and help to strengthen memory.”
Kitchari fasting is actually a mono-diet, which means the body receives a limited diversity of foodstuffs and therefore needs to produce a limited number of digestive enzymes. The work of the digestive system is lessened, allowing for greater healing and cleansing to occur. A kitchari cleanse can be calming, soothing and warming.
Kitchari tastes like a cross between a creamy rice cereal and a light dal, or lentil soup. If it is a cold, blustery day or you are feeling under the weather, a steaming bowl of this classic Indian comfort food can both warm up your bones and restore sagging energy. Everyone has his or her own special method of making kitchari. Ayurvedic Cooking for Self Healing offers a half-dozen kitchari recipes, including this one found on Yoga Journal:
- 1 cup split yellow mung beans
- 1 tbsp peeled, chopped fresh ginger
- 2 tbsp shredded coconut
- handful chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp each of cardamom, pepper, clove powder, turmeric, salt
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 tbsp ghee or butter
- 1 cup raw basmati rice
- 6 cups water
First, rinse the mung beans and soak for several hours. Set aside. In a blender, liquefy the peeled, chopped ginger, shredded coconut, chopped cilantro with one-half cup of water. In a large saucepan, lightly brown the spices, salt; and bay leaves (remove before serving) in the ghee, or butter.
Drain the beans and then stir them into the spice mixture in the saucepan. Next, add the basmati rice. Stir in the blended spice and coconut mixture, followed by six cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook on low heat for approximately 25 to 30 minutes until soft.
Use one part seed to at least three parts water. Soak in a wide-mouth jar. All measurements below yield one quart of ready sprouts. Half-gallon or larger jars are more convenient.
- 1 cup aduki beans – soak 12 hours – 3 to 5 days to sprout
- 2 tablespoons alfalfa seed – soak 6 hours – takes 5 to 6 days to sprout
- 2 tablespoons red clover seed – soak 6 hours – takes 5 to 6 days to sprout
- 1/2 cup fenugreek – soak 8 hours – 3 days to sprout
- 1 cup garbanzo beans – soak 12 hours – 3 to 5 days to sprout
- 1 cup legumes – soak 12 hours – 3 to 5 days to sprout
- 1/2 cup lentils – soak 8 hours – 3 days to sprout
- 1/2 cup mung beans – soak 8 hours – 3 to 5 days to sprout
- 1/4 cup mustard seed – soak 6 hours – takes 5 to 6 days to sprout
- 1/4 cup radish seed – soak 6 hours – takes 5 to 6 days to sprout
- 1 cup rye – soak 12 hours – 3 days to sprout
- 1 cup soy beans – soak 12 hours – 3 to 5 days to sprout
- 2 cups sunflower seeds – soak 12 hours – 2 days to sprout
- 1 cup wheat – soak 12 hours – 3 days to sprout
Cover the mouth of the jar with a plastic or stainless steel sprouting screen or cheesecloth, which is tied on or secured with a rubber band (sprouting jars, bags, and automatic sprouting machines are also available).
After soaking seeds for the prescribed amount of time, drain well, and keep in a warm (65 degree F) dark place. They can be covered with a cloth or bag. Sprouting time increases with more light and cooler conditions.
Rinse twice a day, ideally morning and evening. An exception is soy, which may rot if not rinsed four times daily. Keep jar tilted mouth down for better drainage. A dish drainer works well for this. Thorough rinsing and complete draining improve sprout flavor.
After three days place alfalfa, red clover, radish, and mustard sprouts in a cool place with indirect sunlight to induce chlorophyll. Continue rinsing twice daily until sprouts are ready.
Radish and mustard seed sprouts exhibit biting pungency, which adds a delightful zesty quality when mixed with other sprouts or in various dishes.
During the sprouting process, the hulls on certain seeds slough off. It is important to remove hulls from alfalfa and radish sprouts since these easily rot. Hulls from mung, aduki, and fenugreek are often removed for a lighter-tasting quality, although they can be eaten and provide fiber.
To remove the loose hulls from sprouts, place them in a large bowl of water and agitate them, further loosening and brushing them aside. Gently reach under the sprouts and lift them out of the water, without disturbing the sunken hulls, which can then be discarded.
Drain sprouts well. If refrigerated, they keep up to one week in a plastic bag or covered glass jar.
Alfalfa may not sprout in polluted tap water. Use distilled or spring water or sprout with other seeds (mung, lentil, fenugreek) in the same jar. You will have a delicious salad. Save all rinse water for cooking, watering plants, or to give your animals.
From: Healing With Whole Foods
Sprouts represent the point of greatest vitality in the life cycle of a plant. One clearly experiences this vitality when eating sprouts consistently. During sprouting, vitamin and enzyme content increases dramatically. At the same time starch is converted into simple sugars, protein is turned into amino acids and peptones, and crude fat is broken down into free fatty acids. Hence, the sprouting process predigests the nutrients of the seed, making it easier to assimilate and metabolize. This explains why grains and legumes, many of which are common allergens, often do not cause allergies when sprouted.
Nevertheless, the sprouting process increases the cooling attributes of the seed, which can over-cool the cold person and weaken digestion in those with low “digestive fire.” Generally if one is frail, feels cold often and/or tends toward loose stools, then sprouts must be eaten sparingly. Cooking makes sprouts more appropriate for these individuals. On the other hand, the excessive person (robust body and personality, thick tongue coating, ruddy complexion, strong radial pulse and voice) will benefit from abundant raw or lightly cooked sprouts.
In Chinese medicine, sprouts are a specific remedy for cases of stagnant liver qi (with signs such as swellings and lumps, mental depression, frustration, swollen abdomen and chest, purple-tinged or dark tongue, and/or greenish complexion).
During cold seasons, sprouts act as an excellent source of fresh vegetables. Cooking them at this time of the year balances their cooling nature. In fact, in China where sprouts have thousands of years of traditional use, they are routinely cooked. Raw sprouts have been desirable in the West because they more efficiently reduce the massive excesses occurring among the general population.
For better digestion for every type of person, large grain and legume sprouts such as aduki, lentil, corn, green peas, soy, garbanzo, and wheat can be lightly steamed and are still vital and energizing. They need to be simmered, sauteed, or steamed longer fore people who are cold or deficient.
The growth characteristics of sprouts are most appropriate for attuning one to the energetic upsurges of spring and summer.
From: Healing With Whole Foods
- 2 cups split peas, boiled in 6 cups water
- 4 or more cups additional water
- 1 large onion, minced, 2 cups
- 2 medium celery stalks, quarter rounds, 1½ cups
- 2 medium carrots, thin quarter rounds, 1½ cups
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 5 tsp soy sauce, optional
Procedure – Boil split peas for 1 hour in 6 cups water until soft. Using the same pot, add the additional water. Mix with beans so water is at the bottom of the pot. Add vegetables. Sprinkle sea salt on top. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes over low heat, using a heat diffuser if needed. Add soy sauce if used.
Yield: 10 cups
Source: Ohsawa Macrobiotics
Traditional Indian food for soothing diets. Nutritious and easily digested, Kitchari is simply rice and dahl cooked so thoroughly together that they make a creamy stew. This makes a good soup for an evening supper or a light meal while fasting. Total cooking time about 1 1/2 hours.
- 1/4 cup mung lentils, cleaned and washed
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Vata Churna
- 1/4 cup rice
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron (optional)
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Bring water to a boil in a 2 quart pan. Add lentils, salt, and Churna. Cover and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to ver low and simmer for about an hour.
Add rice, ghee, water, and saffron. Increase heat and bring to boil again. Then reduce to low and simmer for half an hour. Stir frequently to avoid sticking and add more water if it becomes too thick. Khichari should have the consistency of thick gravy. When ready to serve heat ghee in small pan with spices. When mustard seeds start to pop stir spices into Khichari and serve.
Serves 2 or 3
Source: The Ayurveda Cookbook