Meatless Monday: Cleansing Kitchari

This entry was posted on Apr 13, 2015 by Charlotte Bell.
meatless mondayMake a Cleansing Kitchari for Meatless Monday

It seems that about half the people I know are suffering from sinus infections right now. Changes of season, while they are often welcome, can sometimes create upheaval in our bodies. While springtime often inspires us to emerge from our winter cocoons, it can be wise to make our transition gradually, so as not to overwhelm our bodies and minds.

We can also help our bodies integrate the transition by nourishing it with foods that are easily digestible and that have anti-inflammatory properties. Ayurveda offers kitchari (a.k.a. kichadi or kichari), a stew with a base of protein, carbohydrates, veggies and herbs and spices. Depending on the choices of proteins, grains and herbs, kitchari can support specific organ systems in our bodies.

If you look online you can find kitcharis that support the various Ayurvedic constitutions as well as those that regulate metabolism, aid digestion, detox the liver or cleanse the blood.

Most recipes start with white basmati rice and mung dal (split mung beans) as the jumping-off point. From there the variations are endless. If you can’t find organic mung dal locally, here’s a site where you can buy it.

The following is a recipe I found at Sun Warrior. It’s a good, basic starting point for kitchari, and I especially enjoy the suggestion that you consume your kitchari in a quiet, calming environment to support healthy assimilation. You might follow with a Restorative pose that aids digestion. Supta Baddhakonasana is a great choice. It’s one of the few yoga poses that are not only okay, but helpful to practice after eating.

Kitchari from Sun Warrior
  • 1 cup white organic basmati rice OR organic quinoa (I’ve tried this and it’s great too!), soak overnight and rinse well
  • ½–1 cup yellow split mung beans (see variations below), soaked overnight and rinse well
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds or powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 5–6 cups water, more if adding extra veggies
  • 3 leaves of Swiss chard
    • Other options: spinach or kale
  • 1 cup each (or more—I LOVE my veggies): carrots, sweet potato, celery2 teaspoons sea salt, to taste
    • Optional veggies: asparagus, green beans, beets
  • Garnish with cilantro, parsley, dill, or basil
  • 1–2 tablespoons lime juice, per serving
meatless monday

Mung Dal

Rinse rice and beans well (several times) and set aside. In a large pot, warm coconut oil over medium heat. Once oil has warmed, add fennel, cumin, and turmeric. Keep in mind the turmeric will stain everything so use stainless steel measuring spoons over plastic. Stir well then add rice and beans and combine well.

When rice and beans begin sticking to the sides of the pot, add ginger and water. Cover and bring to boil. Stir and set timer for 20 minutes to allow rice and beans to cook at medium heat, a nice simmer.

While the rice and beans are cooking, chop the Swiss chard, carrots, sweet potato, and celery. Also chop up your garnish and set aside.

Once rice and beans are cooked, add vegetables and mix well. Add more water if necessary (depending on how many veggies you added), then cover and allow vegetables to cook to finish the dish, about another 20 minutes or so. The finished consistency should be rich, thick, and soupy.

Serve into bowls and add the lime juice and fresh chopped garnish to each bowl. Season with more salt to taste.

This is a very filling and satisfying stew. Start with a small bowl and see how it fills you up. Be mindful and aware of how much you eat at every meal and enjoy it in a peaceful environment—no computer, TV, or loud distractions—with good, satisfying company and peaceful background music for best digestion and nutrient assimilation.

This pot will make enough for 6–8 servings depending on the size of the bowls. For any leftovers, it is best to reheat in a little pan on the stove with a little water to thin it out. Use within three days. Just remember that the longer something stays in the refrigerator (or freezer), the more lifeless it will become. FRESH is the BEST.

About Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. Her third book is titled Hip-Healthy Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Guide to Protecting the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Pain (Shambhala Publications). She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.