NEVER HEARD OF KITCHARI? THATS OK...
There was no doubt with which recipe I wanted to kick off this virtual recipe box. Boom, I knew. I first heard about Kitchari (pronounced KITCH-uh-ree) about 4 months ago from one of my favorite Ayurvedic practitioners, Sahara Rose. This isn't a post about Ayurveda, but just quickly... Ayurveda is the 5,000 year old Indian traditional system of medicine that revolves around the mind-body connection and that balance within your nutrition & digestion. Translated from Sanskrit, Ayurveda means "knowledge of life." It's the oldest holistic healing system, & even dates back before Chinese Medicine! I explain it to people like this: Yoga and Ayurveda are sisters. If yoga is meant to connect your body to your enlightened mind through movement, then Ayurveda does that through your food & nutrition. If you are interested in Ayurveda at all, I encourage you to check it out. It's fascinating and has helped improve my digestion so much! If interested, start with Sahara Rose in the link HERE. She's a modern Ayurvedic badass who makes it easy to understand, with a book, podcast and bomb IG. Check her.
KITCHARI IS A TRADITIONAL indian DISH THAT HAS 5,000 YEARS BEHIND ITS badassery.
Kitchari is an amazing savory Indian spiced porridge-like meal. It is considered a spiritual detox food in the Ayurvedic world, consisting of basmati rice, quinoa, hella spices, veggies and the secret power ingredient.... Split yellow mung beans. Mung beans are probably the most un-sexy sounding food ever, but they are THE most easily digested food in the world. For pretty much everyone. Mung beans aren't even "beans" - they are a pulse. Which is a completely different kind of food but hardly anyone has heard of a pulse. So "bean" it is. The Indian name for it is Mung Dal, which is what I refer to them as. You can find Mung Dal in the ethnic section of most health food stores, or at Indian grocery stores. Not only is this dish perfectly balanced macronutrient-wise, but because it's so easy to digest, it makes it the perfect food for a cleanse. Double whammy. (Don't even get me started on the B.S. of juice cleanses - maybe I'll do a post about those some day).
After this Thanksgiving, I felt totally off from all the sugar, alcohol, pecan pie, and lack of sleep that made up my break. It was fun to indulge, but I knew my body & digestion needed a hard reset. I had made Kitchari several times but never tried the Kitchari Cleanse I had read about from multiple sources. I decided this was the perfect time to try it. Eating Kitchari for brekky, lunch and dinner for 3 days, to give my digestion a break and get back on track. Dude, IT WORKED.
WITH MOST "CLEANSES" YOU FEEL like a DEPRIVED, hangry, in-human with low energy.
With this Kitchari cleanse, I felt awesome. I ate 3 filling & tasty meals a day. Had great energy. And after the 3 days were up, I felt so good, that I kept it going for 2 more days! My digestion (and elimination) was back on point and I still wanted more Kitchari. What other meal can you eat for B/L/D for 5 days and still want more? Yeah, it's that good.
If you google Kitchari recipes (Martha Stewart even has one!), you might not see any using quinoa. I like using it because it has more protein and fiber than rice, but I still like the texture that the rice gives the dish.
I make my Kitchari in my Instant Pot, (which is the best kitchen tool ever!), but you can also make this on the stove top. I recommend the Instant Pot or other pressure cooker for this though because the pressure cooker breaks down the proteins in the rice and quinoa which makes them easier to digest. I don't cook mine any other way. Plus it's waaaaay less stirring & stoking & effort. So...duh. If you don't have an instant pot, get one, then thank me.
OK, I'VE TALKED IT UP ENOUGH. HERE'S THE RECIPE FOR MY BOMB KITCHARI.
1/2 cup red or white quinoa (soaked for at least an hour & rinsed)
1/2 cup white basmati rice, rinsed (soaked for at least an hour & rinsed)
1.5 cup Mung Dal, rinsed (split yellow mung beans, rinsed)
6 cups filtered water or vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. ghee or coconut oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
3-4 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
2-3 cups of any leafy Greens (spinach, kale, chard, arugula)
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. fresh black pepper
2 tsp. turmeric
1-2 tsp. cumin
1.5 tsp mustard seeds or 1 tsp. ground mustard
1 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
To top: S&P, bunch of cilantro, & fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice - These are a must! TRUST!
Other spices I have used: curry powder, fennel seeds, coriander, cinnamon, or cayenne if you want it hot! Play around with what spices you like.
1. Start Instant Pot in "saute" mode and heat ghee or coconut oil in it. Add chopped onions and sauce for just a couple minutes. Stir in all spices and cook for another minute or so.
2. When the spices are very aromatic, add chopped veggies (besides the leafy greens), rinsed rice & quinoa, mung dal and water/broth. Give it a big stir.
3. Lock Instant Pot lid in place and make sure the top dial thing is in the "sealed" position. Change the Instant pot setting to "Manual" and cook on high pressure for 12 minutes.
5. When the timer goes off, turn the dial thing to "venting" and let all the steam come out naturally.
6. Take off the lid and add your leafy greens of choice. Stir in and they'll wilt with the heat.
7. Serve up a delicious piping hot bowl of detoxifying Kitchari and top with coarse sea salt and pepper, fresh lemon or lime juice, and chopped cilantro. (Must)
***It will be EXTREMELY hot coming out of the instant pot. I have burned my mouth so many times b/c I get so excited! Be careful.***
// As long as you have the staples of rice/quinoa/mung dal, liquid, veggies and spices, you can really do any mix of these that you want. My Kitchari has been a little different almost every time I've made it. Play around with what spices and veggies you like! If you don't like quinoa, use all rice. If you want it more soupy, add more liquid. If you want more veggies, do it. Make it your own!
// Some other ways I've enjoyed Kitchari:
-Heated up over a big pile of greens, like a warm salad. Use Kitchari in place of salad dressing.
-Pan fry asparagus in ghee with your fav seasonings, add heated Kitchari over, and finish with a few slices of avocado and chopped cilantro to top it off!
-Cook your favorite slab of meat, and enjoy over a pile of hot Kitchari- this will be very filling! Come hungry.
// If you don't have an instant pot but want to try this on the stovetop, click HERE for those instructions.