Ayurveda and An Ancient Food in Modern Times
Kitchari is basic to the Ayurvedic way of life. Composed of basmati rice and mung dal, it has as many variations as there are cooks who prepare it. A one-pot dish, kitchari originates on the Asian subcontinent and has references dating back thousands of years. The skillful use of spices and vegetables can produce balancing effects for the three bodily doshas. It has many qualities, but being quick and easy to prepare makes it a popular dish for almost every lifestyle.
Basmati rice and mung dal together create a balanced food that is a good protein combination and is tridoshic. This complete food is easy to digest and gives strength and vitality. It nourishes all the tissues of the body. Kitchari is the preferred food to use when fasting on a mono-fast or while going through cleansing programs such as panchakarma. Kitchari is excellent for detoxification and de-aging of the cells.
White rice is traditionally used in kitchari because it is very easy to digest. Along with the split mung dal, kitchari is a food that is gentle enough for babies. In fact, in Ayurvedic homes, kitchari is typically given to people who are sick, the elderly, and babies because it is so gentle. In addition, taking a mono-diet of primarily just kitchari for several days offers the digestive system a rest by making the diet extremely simple.
1/2 cup basmati rice
1 cup mung dal (split yellow)
6 cups (approx.) water
1 inch piece ginger root, chopped or grated
2 tsp. ghee
1 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. turmeric powder
Handful of fresh cilantro leaves
Mineral salt to taste
1 and 1/2 cups assorted vegetables (optional) Dark leafy greens are nice, spinach chard kale etc.
Wash rice and mung dal each separately in at least 2 changes of water. Add the 6 cups of water to the rice and dal and cook covered until it becomes soft, about 20 minutes.
While that is cooking, prepare any vegetables that suit your constitution. Cut them into small-ish pieces. Add the vegetables to the cooked rice and dal mixture and cook 10 minutes longer.
In a separate saucepan, sauté the spices in the ghee for a couple minutes. Stir together to release the flavors. Stir the sautéed spices into the cooked dal, rice, and vegetable mixture. Add the mineral salt and chopped fresh cilantro and serve.