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Source: Vasant and Usha Lad

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 (The Ayurvedic Press, 1997), by Usha Lad and Vasant Lad, offers a half-dozen kitchari recipes, including this one that was adapted for Yoga Journal:

First, rinse one cup of split yellow mung beans and soak for several hours. Set aside. In a blender, liquefy one tablespoon of peeled, chopped ginger; two tablespoons of shredded coconut; and a handful of chopped cilantro with one-half cup of water. In a large saucepan, lightly brown one teaspoon of cumin, one teaspoon of coriander; one-half teaspoon cinnamon; one-quarter teaspoon each of cardamom, pepper, clove powder, turmeric, salt; and three bay leaves (remove before serving) in three tablespoons of ghee, or butter, or good oil.

Drain the mung dal and then stir it into the spice mixture in the saucepan. Next, add one cup of raw 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.

Here is another recipe for Kitchari - Shakta's Favorite (Serves 12):

  • 18 cups water

  • 2 cups red lentils (boil for 20 minutes to cook) or mung beans (soaked overnight, cook 60 minutes)

  • 2 cups brown basmati rice (40 minutes to cook; white basmati takes 20 minutes to cook)

  • 2 large onions chopped

  • ½ cup minced/grated ginger

  • 16 cloves garlic minced

  • 16 cups chopped veggies (broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, etc.)

  • 2 tbl brown mustard seeds (heat until the seeds pop)

  • 4 tsp turmeric

  • 4 tsp coriander powder

  • 4 tsp cumin powder

  • 4 tsp Garam Masala 4 tsp cardamom

  • 2 tsp Aesofeotida

  • 2 tbl sweet basil

  • 1 or 2 tsp crushed red chilies

  • 1 piece Kombu seaweed (to enrich food with minerals and make it more easily digestible).

Comments: (If using mung beans, soak overnight. Lentils do not need to be soaked.)

  1. Wash beans/lentils. Wash rice. Bring water to boil, add beans/lentils and let boil over medium high flame. When done, add rice and let cook.

  2. Prepare and chop vegetables. Add vegetables to cooking beans and rice.

  3. Heat vegetable oil or ghee in large frying pan. Add onions, ginger and garlic and sauté over medium high flame until brown. When nicely done, combine with cooking beans and rice. 4) Heat more vegetable oil or ghee in large frying pan. Add herbs -- beginning with brown mustard seeds, heat mustard seeds until they pop (cover the pan!); then add the remaining herbs and saute for a few minutes.

You will need to stir the pot often at this point to avoid scorching. You may have to add extra boiling water or vegetable stock until it is completely cooked. The consistency should be rich, thick and soup-like with ingredients barely discernible. Top with plain yogurt (cooling). Chopped fresh cilantro (pitta) or basil (vata) is also nice. Cayenne may be added (warming, kapha); fennel (cooling, pitta); or aesofoetida ("hing"). This recipe is fairly spicy. Reduce heat for children/elderly/those ill.


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