Kitchari Recipe + Video
Kitchari, literally meaning mixture, is a life changing dish of rice, beans, and spices all cooked together in one pot. Kitchari is revered as food medicine due to its easy digestibility, the cornucopia of spices, and varied nutrients; it is often recommended for the very young, the elderly, and the ill. That said, it's delicious and so is an ideal staple recipe for the busy healthy body too!
The recipe you'll find below and that is shown step-by-step in the video is balancing to all doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. It provides an excellent jumping off point for all your kitchari creations, and once you have this recipe mastered I encourage you to find your favorite variations of spices and vegetables.
Below the recipe, you'll find a list of non-essential things to add that will further improve the digestibility of the dish. This list includes things that are slightly harder to source, though they are well worth the effort to find them at a health food store or online; a little goes a long way, so your purchase will last some time.
SPICES: YOUR KITCHEN PHARMACY
The mung beans, rice, and ghee serve as anupanas, or carriers, for the medicinal spices. If you are new to cooking with spices, fear not! They are here to make your food infinitely more tasty and sophisticated. Spices, in seed form especially, are powerful so when experimenting beyond kitchari, I suggest choosing just one or two and using a little to see how it suits your palette. As you grow more familiar with the spices, you'll start using them like an artist: a dash of this, a sprinkle of that, a touch of one more...Enjoy the process and the health benefits that follow!
CORIANDER: Balances all doshas. A cooling spice. Diuretic. Digestive. Fresh juice benefits allergies. Anti-histamine. Especially good for fire-type excess.
FENNEL: Balances all doshas. Digestive. Urinary cleanser. Brain tonic. Increases metabolic fire. Alkalizes. Especially good for indigestion, cramps, gas, burning urine.
CUMIN: Balances all doshas. Cooling spice. Carminative. Stimulant. Especially good for indigestion, diarrhea, and excessive heat.
GINGER: Increases Pitta if used excessively. Balances Kapha & Vata. Digestive. Detoxifier. Especially good for colds, flue, laryngitis, indigestion, belching, gas, abdominal pain, dizziness, jet lag, heart disease.
TURMERIC: "the best medicine in Ayurveda" ~ Dr Vasant Lad. Balances all doshas. Can increase Pitta in excess. Digestive. Antibiotic. Blood purifier. Metabolism strengthener. Especially good for indigestion, belching, poor circulation, cough, diabetes, skin disorders, wounds, tumors, arthritis, and anemia. It is also antiviral and anti-fungal.
SALT: Increases Pitta & Kapha. Balances Vata. Strengthens muscles, digestion & mucous membranes. Especially good for digestion, constipation, sore throat, taste stimulation, nausea.
HING: Increases Pitta. Balances Kapha & Vata. Digestive. Detoxifier. Cleanses intestinal flora. Especially good for indigestion, gas, constipation, abdominal distension, arthritis, and asthma.
Makes roughly 5 servings.
- 1 c white basmati rice
- 1/2 c mung beans (either split hulled mung beans or whole beans that have been soaked overnight)
- 1 Tbsp ghee
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 coins of fresh ginger (thick slices)
- 5-6 c water
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 Tbsp desiccated coconut
- 3 leaves of swiss chard
- 1 zucchini
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- fresh cilantro
- lime wedges
Rinse rice and beans well and set aside. In a medium to large pot, heat ghee over medium heat. Once melted add fennel, cumin and turmeric. Stir, then add rice and beans. Combine spices and rice & beans, and continue to stir. When rice & beans begin sticking to the sides of the pot, add ginger, coriander seeds, and water. Cover and bring to boil. Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat sesame seeds until starting to brown then mix in coconut. Once all starts to brown, turn off heat, and add to boiling rice & beans mixture. Stir and set timer for 20 minutes to allow rice & beans to cook. Now is a good time to chop the chard, grate the zucchini, and chop any cilantro you’ll be using to garnish and further enhance digestion. About 10 minutes in, check that the rice & beans don’t need more water. If it’s not looking like a wet porridge, add more water. After the timer goes off, check that the beans & rice are cooked. Depending on your beans and how long you soaked them, it may need another 10 minutes. Don’t worry if the rice grows soft; it only makes it easier to digest & it stays tasty. Once rice and beans are cooked, add vegetables and mix well. Add more water if necessary, then cover and allow vegetables to cook; this shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes or so. Once all the kitchari is cooked, serve with a sprinkle of fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro.
For added digestibility: These are especially beneficial for those with vata-type digestion or need extra assistance in digesting beans.
- Add a pinch of hing (a.k.a. asafetida) and 1/4 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds to the ghee at the start. Wait for the mustard seeds to pop then add the seeds.
- Add 5-6 inches of kombu, a type of seaweed when you add the water. You can add it whole and remove it before eating, or you can carefully use scissors to cut it into tiny pieces and let it cook & be served with the kitchari.
For Vata Dosha balancing: Very good. Add pinch (or three!) of hing (a.k.a. asafetida) to melted ghee at start. Use 5-6 cups water. Add 1/2 teaspoon more ghee to each serving.
For Pitta Dosha balancing: With the water, add 4-6 inches of burdock root, peeled then diced.
For Kapha Dosha balancing: Good. Reduce coconut to 1 tsp and use bell pepper rather than zucchini. You can add any other more pungent spices like 1/2 tsp of fenugreek or a sprinkling of garam masala to taste to bring more heat and boost agni.
Kitchen Pharmacy Handout from Dr Vivek Shanbhag