Kitchari is a traditional Ayurvedic dish often used for cleansing and detoxing. It’s basically lentils and rice cooked together with different spices.
I love kitchari not only because of its warming and soothing taste, a wonderful comfort food, but also for its wonderful effect on the digestive system. When I get any type of indigestion, cramps or bloating, I go on a kitchari diet for a day or a couple of days and mostly feel so much better after the first meal already!
In this recipe I have added all the spices that help relieve digestive problems and stimulate your agni, digestive fire. See a list of each spice and its qualities at the bottom of the recipe.
You can choose which spices you use according to your taste. And if you’re hesitant about using cinnamon, cardamom and/or fennel seeds in a savory meal, just try it out and be surprised! Secret ingredient is again fresh turmeric instead of dried powdered turmeric!
This recipe serves about 4 people, it’s easy to make and takes about an hour to cook. Serve with any veggies you fancy, steamed, sautéed or out of the oven.
- 1 cup red lentils (you can also use mung beans or a combination of both)
- 1 cup rice (basmati or jasmine)
- 2 tbsp. of coconut oil (or any oil you prefer)
- ½ tbsp. mustard seeds
- ½ tbsp. cumin seeds
- ½ tbsp. fennel seeds
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- ½ tbsp. ground coriander
- 6 cardamom pods (ground or whole)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves
- 1 inch of fresh ginger
- 1 inch of fresh turmeric
- 7 – 8 cups of water
- salt, soy sauce or tamari to taste
- pepper to taste
- Rinse the red lentils and the rice
- Heat the coconut oil in a heavy skillet or pot
- Add the mustard, cumin and fennel seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add the ground cumin and ground coriander and stir for a couple of minutes till the spices smell nicely.
- Add the red lentils and rice and stir. Add 4 cups of water.
- Bring to a boil while you add: grated ginger, grated turmeric, cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom.
- From when the kitchari started boiling it needs about 50 minutes to 1 hour to cook until the lentils and rice look almost disintegrated. They break each other down and you can see it becomes a more smooth consistency. Stir regularly. When the water is absorbed, add some more until you have added 7 – 8 cups of water in total. I prefer to add the water when needed instead of at the beginning, so you have more control over the consistency of your dish; you don’t want it to become too watery, neither burn.
- Add salt and pepper to taste before serving and: ENJOY!
Qualities of the spices: (taken from an article in YOGAlife by Janet Gomez www.nutrijyoti.ch )
Considered to manage flatulence and strengthen the digestive system, cumin has stimulating and alterative properties. It is heating and pungent and bitter in taste.
Fennel is calming and has several medicinal properties: carminative, diuretic, and antispasmodic. It works well to improve “digestive fire”, to ease gastric pain and assimilate fatty foods. It is cooling and has a sweet and slightly pungent taste.
Coriander is known for its medicinal properties, in particular its carminative and digestive qualities (especially for children). It enhances the assimilation of starchy foods and root vegetables, aids digestion and eases flatulence. It is cooling and pungent and sweet in taste.
It comes from the same family as ginger. It is considered to have numerous medicinal properties: digestive, carminative and stimulating. It can ease acidity in the stomach, is a breath freshener and when added to milk, it neutralizes its mucus-forming properties. It also detoxifies caffeine in coffee. It is heating, hot and sweet in taste.
Cinnamon is considered to be antiseptic, stimulating and antispasmodic. It eases digestive problems such as flatulence and indigestion. It is a breath-freshener and helps to strengthen gums. It is heating and pungent and sweet in taste.
Cloves help in digestion and absorption. They also have many medicinal properties, e.g. stimulating, carminative, expectorant, antiseptic and local anesthetic (especially for toothache). This spice is very heating and is known particularly for its spicy flavor in cooking.
Ginger has been known for thousands of years for its stimulating and digestive qualities. Ginger eases flatulence, colds and coughs. It works on all the tissues, aids protein digestion and reduces the effect of uric acid in the body. It is heating and pungent and sweet it taste.
Turmeric has a balancing effect, enhances digestion, particularly of proteins, and it improves the metabolism. It is heating, and pungent and bitter in taste. Turmeric has stimulating, antibacterial, alterative and vulnerary medicinal properties and black pepper enhances its effect.
Doctor David Servan says in his book ‘Anti-cancer’ about turmeric: a spice with astonishing properties, one of the most common ingredients used in Ayurvedic medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties.
This spice has numerous medicinal properties: stimulating, expectorant, carminative and anti-bacterial. It contains piperine which encourages secretion of saliva and gastric juices. Pepper is heating with a hot taste. It increases appetite, helps relieve bloating and digestion of dairy products.