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Kitcheree (Kitchari): Nourishing Ayurvedic Comfort Food

Sometimes you just want to eat something warm, soft and comforting. But you also want to be nourished, and get some protein. Kitcheree satisfies both of those needs.

Kitcheree, or kitchari, fits the bill for both comfort and nutrition.

In this article you will learn why kitchari is so delicious, easy to digest, and nourishing. You will find an easy recipe so that you can make it yourself.

Let’s dive in.

What’s with all the different names for Kitcheree?

Kitchari is an Indian dish that dates back centuries. It makes sense that over the years the name would change slightly as it spread through different parts of the world. You might see it called kichri, khichdi, kitchari, kitcheree, kitcherie, or kitchurie. 

You might also see it called kedgeree. Kedgeree is actually a completely different rice dish. Kedgeree has smoked salmon or tuna, boiled eggs, and curry. While kedgeree is considered a traditional English or Scottish dish, it still has its roots in India.

Why is Kitchari good for you?

Kitchari is made with a mixture of moong dal (yellow split mung beans) and basmati rice. The combination of these two foods provides all the amino acids you need to make a complete protein. This dish is also a good source of dietary fiber that is easy on the digestive system.

Kitchari contains ghee, which has all the goodness of butter without the milk sugars and proteins. Many people who can’t eat milk products will still tolerate ghee. Ghee contains the fat soluble vitamins A, E and K, packaged up with beneficial fatty acids that help with their absorption.

The spices in kitchari add in even more health benefits. Ginger helps with the motility (movement) of your digestive tract (1), and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Turmeric is a kitchen spice that has made its way into the medicine cabinet. It has well-researched anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (2).

Fenugreek and fennel seeds are both very good for relieving digestive discomfort like gas and bloating, along with many other healthy benefits (3, 4). Coriander, cumin seeds and mustard seeds contain aromatic polyphenols that can benefit the health of both you and your gut bacteria (5).

How is Kitchari connected with Ayurvedic medicine?

According to the Ayurvedic Institute, the word kitchari means “mixture.” In this case it refers to the mixture of moong dal (legume) and rice, which makes up the backbone of the dish. 

Ayurveda is the traditional medicine of India. There are records of kitchari being used as a healing food going back thousands of years (6).

The Doshas and Kitchari

Kitchari is a tridoshic food, meaning it can benefit all three doshas. So what exactly is a dosha? 

Doshas are the states, or energy patterns, that regulate the processes of your mind, body and behavior. The three doshas are vata, pitta and kapha. 

Your dosha is a combination of the influence of five different elements on your unique physical and genetic makeup. Most people will have one predominant dosha, and also smaller bits of the other doshas mixed in (7).

Ayurvedic medicine recommends a specific type of diet for each dosha. However a tridoshic food can benefit any dosha. This makes kitchari a healing food for just about everyone.

That being said, you can tweak the spices that you add to kitchari according to your dosha. If you want to dive deeper into this way of life, The Ayurvedic Institute is one place where you begin your journey.

What does Kitchari taste like?

Kitchari tastes like a creamy and very mild lentil, flavored with fragrant spices. It is smooth, with just enough texture from the dal to give it a pleasant chewiness. Kitchari is easy to eat, but also filling enough that you don’t feel the urge to overeat.

Where can I get the ingredients for Kitchari?

The basic ingredients for kitchari are ghee, basmati rice, moong dal and whatever spices you want to use.

Ghee is very easy to make at home. You can try this ghee recipe. You can also buy your ghee, although it is much cheaper to make it yourself. If you don’t want to use ghee, you can always substitute coconut oil.

You can find the spices for kitchari either in a grocery store or online. Basmati rice is sold in most standard grocery stores. 

The most challenging ingredient to find for kitchari is moong dal. This is a hulled and split mung bean. It is different from the yellow split peas that you see everywhere. 

If you have an Indian grocery in your community you might be able to find moong dal there. Otherwise it is easy enough to buy online. Jiva Organics sells yellow moong dal. You can also buy it from Banyan Botanicals.  

Easy Kitchari Recipe

You need a couple of hours to prepare kitchari, but most of this time just requires your presence, not a whole lot of activity. Half of the prep time is just soaking the rice and moong dal. A good portion of the rest is keeping an eye on the mixture as it slowly cooks. 

A bowl of kitchari sits on a wooden table with a decorative cloth or spoon.
Yield: 4 servings

Kitchari

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

This traditional Ayurvedic dish is true comfort food. It has a warm, creamy texture, and provides your body with easy-to-digest protein and healing spices.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup split yellow mung beans (also called moong dahl)
  • ½ cup white basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin seed (or ground cumin)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fennel seed
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seed
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 4-5 cups water or vegetable broth

Instructions

1. Combine split yellow mung beans and basmati rice in a medium sized bowl. Cover with water and soak one hour.

2. Near the end of soaking time, melt the ghee in a medium-large heavy saucepan.

3. Add seeds and spices to the ghee and simmer for a few minutes until fragrance is released.

4. Add soaked rice-bean mixture. Stir well and let it simmer, stirring, for about five minutes.

5. Add the water or vegetable broth. Lower heat and simmer gently for about 45 minutes. Stir frequently as rice cooks to prevent it from sticking to the pan. Add more water if needed. Adjust water as necessary to get a thicker or soupier dish. Cook until it reaches desired softness.

6. Serve with fresh coriander, or drizzled with lime juice.

Notes

If you don't want to use ghee, you can substitute coconut oil.

You can keep leftovers in the fridge for a few days. To reheat, add a small amount of water and heat very gently on the stove, blending gently with a large spoon.

The Last Morsel

If you are under the weather, or having a difficult time digesting food, try kitcheree, or kitchari. This mild comfort food is easy to digest, but still gives you the complete protein you need to put you on the road to health.

Kitchari is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy that can benefit people of all three doshas. You can tweak the spices to tailor it to your situation.

Most of the ingredients for kitchari are easily available. You might need to order the moong dal online if you don’t have any Indian grocery stores in your area. 

Wishing you lots of nourishment and health in the coming year!

Do you need ideas for healing foods, and foods that your digestive tract can handle? I am here to help! Schedule a free phone call today and let’s talk about you.

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