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Kitchari - Ayurvedic Comfort Food

Kitchari (aka kichadi or khichdi) is a perfect food for this time of year. Offering warm nourishing comfort, kitchari is easy to digest, supports vital energy and detoxification, and is balancing for all doshas. All of that, and it is delicious, easy to make, and versatile for your tastes and what you have on hand.

As with all popular dishes, there are many variations out there. This one is a go-to for me (Jillian) when I want to make a big pot of healthy easy food. I was introduced to kitchari and this recipe during an Ayurvedic workshop with Shweta Parmar many years ago, and have adjusted it a little over time. It is full of wonderful spices, seasonal vegetables, mung beans, and basmati rice. But what really makes it delicious, and keeps you coming back for more, is the Mint Cilantro Chutney! Yuuummmmm!

I am a big believer in spices! And this dish is loaded with some strong healing plant allies. Here's just a little highlight of some of the all-stars. And yes, I've included the recipes at the bottom. :)

Mung Beans - Often referred to as the "gentle lentil," these little green guys are believed to have a cleansing effect on the kidneys and are great for digestion. They are an excellent source of plant-based protein and happen to be rich in amino acids, antioxidants, potassium, magnesium and fiber.

Mustard Seeds - As an excellent source of selenium and good source of magnesium, mustard seeds are touted for their anti-inflammatory benefits.

Cumin Seeds - For starters, cumin is said to aid digestion by increasing bile production, which helps digest fats and nutrients in the gut. Cumin seeds are a rich source of iron and contain plant compounds, like flavonoids and alkaloids, which are linked to many health benefits.

Turmeric Powder - Turmeric's superpowers are widely praised. It is well known as a very strong antioxidant (while also stimulating your body's own antioxidant activity) with a potent anti-inflammatory affect. It is said to be good for the brain and can help combat depression, among many other benefits.

Coriander (seed) Powder - Full of antioxidants, coriander seeds demonstrate immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective affects.

Cilantro (leaf) - Cilantro's more prominent superpowers are in its antimicrobial and heavy metal chelation factors. Cilantro is believed to combat lead and other heavy metal toxicity.

Fennel Powder - Fennel is often used to support digestion and help flush out toxins. Fennel has many gastrointestinal benefits. It can help keep the blood and digestive tract healthy, which in turn, helps us get the nutrients we need.

Fresh Ginger - Ginger, a close relative of turmeric, is another one of our widely celebrated anti-inflammatory and all-around supportive spices. It is good for digestion, pain management, brain health, immunity, and infection fighting. It is even being studied for its anti-cancer properties. More ginger please!

The vegetables and spices you choose will support your digestive fire (agni), which is critical to process the food that you eat to keep you healthy and alive!  You can change the veggies according to season. Some spices may be useful to use more or to omit, depending on your body/mind constitution. If you want to know more about your constitution and Ayurvedic recommendations, schedule a consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner.

And now for the recipes! Please check out your local health food store, co-op, or ethnic food market for bulk spices - and use a lot! ;)

Kitchari (4-ish Servings)

1 cup Basmati Rice

1  cup Mung Bean

6 cups (approx.) Boiled Water

½ tsp, as desired Himalayan Salt

2 TBS Ghee or Coconut Oil

3 tsp. Mustard Seeds

2 tsp.Cumin Seeds or Powder

2 tsp.Turmeric Powder

2 tsp.Coriander Powder

2 tsp.Fennel Powder

2 tsp. Grated Fresh Ginger

2+ cups Assorted easy to digest veggies

1 Onion

2+ Garlic

1) Wash mung bean and rice mixture 3-4 times until there is a clear rinse.  Soak for a few hours if possible.

2) Sautee mustard and cumin seeds in ghee/oil on low-medium flame.  Once you hear the popping and smell the released aromatic medicines, let it sizzle for few more minutes.  Watch that the spices do not burn.

3) Add boiled water, rest of spices, herbs, salt.  

4) Bring to a boil.  Add mung beans and rice.  Adjust to low-medium flame.  Cover until tender.  

5) If adding veggies, add in the middle of cooking; add leafy greens towards the very end.  

Fresh Cilantro Mint Chutney:  Balancing for all 3 Doshas

Nothing refreshing and soothing like this chutney!  Fresh Cilantro clears heavy toxins out of the body! Mint is drying and dispersing in nature.  Coconut is cooling, nourishing, heavy in nature.  All the ingredients balance each other out…making it WHOLE and tridosha balancing! -Shweta

1 Bunch Cilantro

½ Bunch Mint

½ cup Shredded Coconut or flakes (unsweetened)

¼ cup Lime Juice

2 TBS Chopped Ginger

1 tsp. Sweetener (maple syrup, raw honey or raw sugar)

1 tsp. Sea Salt

¼ cup Water (adjust according to consistency desired)

Optional: fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, marjarom, fresh chilli pepper

Wash Cilantro, mint, and other fresh herbs thoroughly.  Use leaves and top of stems of the cilantro and mint.  Blend all together in a food processor.

Please enjoy! Send love, gratitude and blessing to the beautiful farmers who grew your food and the life force it sustains in your miraculous body. Eat well and be merry, and may it be for the benefit of all beings.

Om om om

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