Welcome to the first Thursday Healing Kitchen.
So all week I have been humming and hahing about what to cover in my first Thursday’s Healing Kitchen. You will recall from my post Ayur what??? that Ayurveda is a personalised approach to healing. A big part of that is knowing your own body constitution, your individual make up in order to know what is right for you (see my post The heat is on for more on identifying your body constitution). As I mentioned, one size does not fit all. For example, there are some for which spicy food, whilst they may love it, may aggravate any imbalance they have whilst for others spicy food is exactly what the doctor orders. There is only so much you can cover in one post, but if you are interested in the subject I will be exploring more about how to identify your body constitution in future posts and using that knowledge and understanding to tailor dishes to your specific needs.
However, back to today’s kitchen….once I just took a few breaths and stopped thinking about it all so much, the answer was obvious. There is one dish in Ayurvedic cooking that is known as the Food of the Gods because it is not only nutritious and aids the body in the digestive process, (In Ayurveda, any food we ingest which aids the digestive process is classified as medicine) but it is considered to help facilitate spiritual growth.
Not only that, but in my personal opinion (and that of my 20 month old daughter) it is absolutely delicious.
So what is this mysterious dish I hear you all screaming?!
The dish we will look at today is a simple traditional cleansing Kitchari – pronounced Kich-ar-ee.
The term Kitchari is used to describe any dish made with a mixture of rice and legumes, with spices. It can be very simple or more elaborate, you can vary the spices, add vegetables and change it up depending on the foods best suited to balance your body constitution. However the traditional Ayurvedic detox, cleansing Kitchari is very simple and this is the one we will look at today as it is the foundation. I will make a few suggestions at the end as to how you can change it up to make it more interesting if you want to play with it a little.
Kitchari is a wonderful dish for cleansing the body of toxins, perfect for a mono-food detox and has been used for centuries in India to nourish babies, the elderly, the sick and the healthy during times of deep spiritual practice. It is also a regular feature today in most Indian homes and my home because it is simply yummy and is the perfect comfort food.
So without further ado….what is in this magical dish? Let’s talk a little about the ingredients before I give you the recipe.
1. White Rice
In a traditional cleansing Kitchari, white rice is used because it is the easiest to digest. You can use brown rice in your kitchari if you would rather and whilst it will supply more nutrients, the husks of brown rice are harder to digest. During a cleanse, your digestive system is weakened and the more difficult to digest brown rice may irritate the intestinal wall and lead to abdominal pain or gas. Kitchari need not only be eaten when you are detoxing, it is full of goodness and will benefit you anytime.
2. Split yellow mung beans
To be called kitchari, the rice has to be cooked with a legume. Traditionally, that legume was split yellow mung dal beans. These are the only legumes that are classified as “vata balancing” in Ayurveda. This means that, unlike every other type of bean or lentils, they will not produce any intestinal gas. You can of course use yellow or red lentils or aduki beans or any other legume you happen to have in your larder.
Today we will use, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, black mustard seeds. Turmeric powder, Hing, Ajwan (caraway seeds) and Himalayan salt.
Each of these spices deserve a blog all to themselves but for today I will keep it short, and sweet.
Turmeric is a wonderful spice, with a myriad of benefits.
It is known for its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. It has recently been proven to have an affinity for the large intestine and to play a preventative role in bowel cancer. It is also recommended for those suffering with IBS, Crohns disease or other digestive problems.
It is an extremely good liver strengthener and cleanser. It increases the flow of blood through the hepatic system and increases bile output which helps to dissolve and prevent gall stones and is recommended for those suffering with ulcers or acidity.
It is considered a very good blood cleanser and purifier and is indicated for people suffering with eczema, acne, psoriasis.
It is known to regulate menstrual cycle and clear congestion in the lower abdomen and uterus. Fibroids, cysts, and endometriosis amongst others are treated by reducing congestion.
It treats inflammation of the joints and is useful for those suffering with gout, arthritis, broken or brittle bones. It reduces swelling and water retention.
It is also indicated for those suffering with diabetes as it controls blood sugar levels.
Now that is a lot of goodness in one sunshine powder!
Cumin is one of the best herbs for sluggish digestion. It is indicated for those suffering with bloating and indigestion.
It is beneficial for those suffering with migraines, headaches and hay fever. It also fights high blood pressure, and is recommended for parkinson, MS, Motor Neuron, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
It reduces all three doshas , Vata, Pitta and Kapha(this is a specific Ayurvedic concept and is something we will discuss in another post).
This is indicated for those suffering with Diabetes. It helps to balance blood sugar levels in Type 1 and 2 diabetes.
It is a good herb for reducing cholesterol and very good for treating bloating and excessive gas. It is useful for treating diarrhoea, it helps liver function and improves the assimilation of nutrients.
It is used in formulae to treat impotence, premature ejaculation and low libido.
It is indicated in lower back problems, sciatica, and arthritis with swelling and pain.
Hing or Asafoetida – this one is not so usual in Western kitchens, you can get it in Asian supermarkets usually but if you can’t find it don’t worry, leave it out, you could use some coriander powder instead to add flavour.
It treats bloating, excessive gas and colic. It is very effective in treating yeast infections, candida.
It is an antispasmodic and as such effective in treating coughs and asthma.
Black Mustard Seeds –if you don’t have these you can use black pepper corns.
These stimulate your agni (digestive fire) and clear congestion from the respiratory tract and the intestines.
So the recipe…….
Traditional cleansing Kitchari
1/2 cup of yellow split mung dal beans
1/2 cup of rice
2 tsp of ghee
1tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp of Fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon of Ajwan seeds
1/2 teaspoon of Hing powder
1 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of Himalayan salt
4 cups of water
- Wash rice and mung dal mix and rinse until water runs clear. If you are using it on a cleanse you may like to soak the mung dal overnight to make it easier to digest or for 30 minutes before cooking. Whilst this makes it easier to digest I often simply rinse the rice and mung dal.
- Melt ghee in a pot
- Add seeds to the oil on a medium heat for a few minutes to allow them to start to pop and gently smoke and release their flavours. Then add rice and mung dal.
- Mix with a wooden spoon for a few minutes to allow them to gently roast. Then add the powders and salt.
- Cover with water. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
- Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
You can add more water to this recipe if you want it to be more soupy. You may also like to add sweet potatoes or some leafy greens to make it more interesting as mentioned above. Additionally you could add garlic and/or onions. If you are using kitchari for a cleanse keep it simple and leave out the extras. I will be looking at specific dosha balancing kitcharis in another post so stay tuned.
It is also worth mentioning that when I make this for my daughter I use ground black pepper rather than mustard seeds or pepper corns as they are both a little hardcore for her just yet. She really loves this dish though and it makes me feel so good seeing her lap it up knowing all the goodness she is getting in every spoonful.
This is such an easy quick recipe that it is perfect to make after a long hard day at work when you really are in no mood to cook. It is light,easy to digest and full of goodness so you know you are spreading love to all your family with every spoonful.
That is it for the first healing kitchen. I had hoped to post it earlier today but life interrupted!! Better late than never. I hope you try it and enjoy it. If you do, let me know what you think. If you want to be sure to catch next Thursday’s Healing Kitchen or indeed any of my posts on other topics, click ‘tuning in’ on the home page and you will get an email everytime I publish a new post.
Until next time beautiful souls.