I’ll be honest, I don’t cook much. I live in NYC where there are more restaurants than I can possibly visit in a lifetime. Plus, spending time in the kitchen isn’t my favorite past time and it shows in my cooking. All this makes it that much more ironic that I’m sharing a recipe, but bear with me!
I first discovered kitchari when reading up on Ayurveda. Ayurveda comes from the Vedas, a universal body of knowledge that also happens to be the source for the style of meditation that I practice and now teach. Ayurveda is the 5000-year-old “science of life” that was designed to balance the physical body, the mind, the soul, and the senses.
Kitchari is a balancing staple food of Ayurveda. It’s a neutral, light, and soft food, that’s highly nourishing and easy to digest. Having dealt with digestive issues since childhood, I was intrigued by this. So, I started experimenting and came up with a recipe that’s so simple, even a child can make it. In fact, my children *have* made it.
Kitchari involves just 5 ingredients that go into a rice cooker. That’s right, a rice cooker! Once the lid is closed, my work in the kitchen is done. The keep-warm feature on the rice cooker ensures I have access to a delicious, home-cooked meal all day. Best of all, it comes out perfect every time!
Now, I’m not one to toot my own horn about my cooking. I have embarrassed myself attempting to cook for others, so I generally avoid it. But this recipe is different. Even I can’t mess it up! Plus, my foodie-friends love it - so I must be on to something.
Here are a few tips:
Make a big batch of Kitchari Spice Mix in advance and store it in a jar. It lasts for ages and you’ll always have some on hand. You can find the recipe for my spice mix below.
The main ingredients are basmati rice and mung dal. To make them even more digestible, soak them in water for at least 2 hours before cooking.
To save time, soak the rice and dal overnight, then throw them in the rice cooker before heading out in the morning. This way, there’s a meal ready as soon as you arrive back home.
Experiment with the rice/dal ratio. The recipe has a 1:1 ratio of rice to dal which is a good starting point, but you can adjust as you like. My delicate digestive system prefers a ratio of 2 parts rice to 1 part dal.
Typically, kitchari has a porridge-like consistency. A thinner consistency is good if your digestion is weak. Kitchari will thicken when it cools. You may add more water or boil it off to get it to the exact consistency you like.
Vegetables can be added to kitchari for additional texture, flavor, fiber, and variety. My favorites are kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, and zucchini. Carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash are also great options. If your rice cooker has a steamer basket like mine does, you can place the veggies in there. If not, place the veggies into the pot with the other ingredients.
And now, the recipe!
Makes 4 Servings
You Will Need
1/2 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup mung dal
4 cups water
2 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp kitchari spice mix* (recipe below)
Soak rice and dal for at least 2 hours.
Place strained rice and dal, water, ghee, and kitchari spice mix into the rice cooker. Optionally, add vegetables.
Cook on white rice setting.
*Kitchari Spice Mix
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
Combine all ingredients, makes 2.3 tbsp
No rice cooker? No problem. Here’s what you’ll do.
Soak rice and dal for at least 2 hours.
In a medium saucepan warm the ghee. Add the kitchari spice mix and sauté for one to two minutes. Add strained rice and mung dal and sauté for another couple of minutes. Then add water and bring to a boil.
Once the kitchari has come to a boil reduce the heat to medium-low.
If adding vegetables, add the longer cooking vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes or zucchini, halfway through the cooking. Add the vegetables that cook faster, such as leafy greens, near the end.
Cover and cook until it is tender (approx. 30–45 minutes).
Want a pdf version of the recipe? Download it here.