November 14, 2012


This classic Indian rice-and-beans dish is perfect for cleansing, detoxifying, balancing and purifying the body and mind. It is so easy to digest that it gives the digestive system a much-needed rest, leaving more energy for healing and detoxifying, and so nourishing that it can be eaten for every meal of every day for weeks on end. Plus it's DELICIOUS, easy to make, cheap, incredibly adaptable, and keeps very well in the fridge!

When my appetite was completely out of whack last winter (I'm talking fleeting glimpses of ravenous hunger at ridiculous times of day/night that would disappear before I could even make it to the kitchen), an Ayurvedic practitioner recommended that I try a one-week Kitchari fast. My appetite stabilized and I continued to eat nothing but Kitchari for more than 3 weeks before I could even think about eating any other food! This dish is a lifesaver in times of havoc and stress, and I continue to make various versions of it once or twice a week.

Kitchari traditionally consists of mung beans, basmati rice (although the rice can be left out if you like) and digestive spices. Which spices you use are totally up to your personal preferences and whatever you happen to be in the mood for. Combining spices is one kitchen art I have yet to master, so I will give you some tried-and-true combinations from Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. Feel free also to add any vegetables you like, cut up meat, a cooked egg or two, or serve it on a bed of lettuce leaves, or in lettuce wraps with raw veggies and sprouts, or topped with plenty of fresh chopped cilantro. The possibilities are endless!!!


  • ½c mung beans (or other beans - lentils are a great choice!)
  • ½c brown basmati rice (or other rice/grain - sweet brown rice is fantastic, as is quinoa! You can also leave out the rice if you like.)
  • Ghee, for sauteing (vegans can use olive oil or coconut oil)
  • ½ onion or 1 leek, diced
  • Freshly ground spices (see variations below)
  • 3c bone broth (vegetarians or vegans can use veggie broth), or water, or a mix of broth and water
  • Chopped veggies of choice (my favorites are wakame seaweed, broccolini, kale!)
  • Unrefined rock salt or sea salt, to taste
  • Small pieces of meat or 1-2 cooked eggs
  • Additional ghee or duck fat
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Fresh chopped cilantro


  1. Soak mung beans and rice for 16-36 hours, or as long as you have time for - the mung beans should be splitting out of their skins.
  2. In a pot over medium heat, melt ghee and caramelize the sliced onion or leek. Don't add salt! Beans cooked with salt will take a very long time to soften, if at all!
  3. Turn the heat down to low. Melt more ghee in the pot if necessary and add the spices (there should be enough ghee that they are not dry or sticking to the pot). Stir everything around until the spices smell very fragrant. This only takes about 20-30 seconds - don't burn them!!
  4. Pour the broth and/or water into the pot and turn up the heat to high. Add soaked mung beans and rice.
  5. Bring the kitchari to a boil and skim off any foam that forms on the surface. Lower the heat and add the veggies, except for leafy greens. Cover it and let it simmer until the mung beans start to break up into mush. Continue to skim off foam as necessary.
  6. Stir the kitchari as it thickens for the last few minutes to prevent sticking. If you're using any leafy green vegetables, meat, or eggs, now is the time to add them! Continue stirring, adding more broth or water if necessary, until the rice is nice and tender.
  7. Remove from heat and add salt and optional ghee, duck fat and/or cayenne pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with fresh chopped cilantro, if you like.

Spice Combinations

Combination 1 (my personal favorite!)
1 part black or brown mustard seeds
1 part cumin seeds
a few pinches of hing (otherwise known as asafoetida)
tons of turmeric

Combination 2
grated fresh ginger
tons of turmeric
*blend ginger and coconut in a blender with a bit of water. Add this mixture after the turmeric has become fragrant and let it simmer for a minute before adding broth.

Combination 3
2 bay leaves
1 part cinnamon
1 part cloves
2 parts cardamom

Combination 4
grated fresh ginger
fresh cilantro
1-2 bay leaves
2 parts turmeric
2 parts cloves
3 parts black pepper
4 parts cardamom
*blend ginger, coconut and cilantro in a blender with a bit of water. Add this mixture after the spices have become fragrant and let it simmer for a minute before adding broth.

Like this post?

Enter your email to have all new posts sent directly to your inbox!

No comments :

Post a Comment