Kitchari is an ancient meal I personally believe to be a downright MIRACLE MEAL for today’s very discerning pallets. Pronounced one of two ways; you might hear it as ‘kitch-er-ee’ or as ‘kit-charr-ee’. Either way you choose to say it, you have GOT to start making it. In my family and close circle of friends I believe we have all the major categories of things people can’t or just won’t eat. So get-togethers can stress out everyone on ‘what will we eat?’
Kitchari is my go-to favorite meal to serve myself, my family and well actually, any group of people. Now It’s not particularly elegant but it IS everything else! My recipe is comprised of 16 ingredients, 13 are spices, that can be cooked in just 20 minutes in your Instant Pot!
It is a dairy free, gluten free, milk free, egg free, shellfish free, nut free, meatless meal that is a serious crowd pleaser. Did I mention it’s cooked in 20 minutes, start to finish? That’s faster than a Chick Fil A run. It is absolutely loaded with great healing spices known throughout Ayurveda for their medicinal properties. We’ll get into that more on another post.
So ‘what is this, where did it come from?’ Kitchari is old, like really old. It comes from Ayurveda which is also where our modern day Yoga comes from. So yes, it was created (most-likely) in India, but it is well-respected all throughout the globe. Due it’s excellent digestibility and simple ingredients it’s often associated with the sick, the young or the poor. Think of it kind of like a chicken soup for yogi’s. This meal eats like a spicy, but not hot spicy, golden porridge. It can comprise of simple rice, mung beans, water and spices, or you can easily add chopped vegetables, or even meats if you require a carnivorous punch.
There are so many applications of Kitchari in our diets. Traditionally the vegan version is served as a baby’s introduction to solid food, to those recovering from an illness or trauma, but it’s also served to those looking to correct GI issues. When used for a digestive cleanse either seasonally or for weight loss, Kitchari can be eaten for 3 meals a day, for 3 consecutive days. It’s often used alongside treatment plans for Candida (yeast), SIBO, IBS, Leaky Gut, Acid Reflux or general indigestion. *Check with doctor before self-treating for serious medical conditions.
‘What about the nutrition?’ ‘I don’t know about all those carbs…’ RICE & BEANS together are the perfect protein. Mightier than steak and way, way, way less stressful on your body to digest. Who needs more stress? Not me.
This inexpensive, highly-sustainable super-duo have been around our diets for about 10,000 years with good reason. The marriage of rice and beans such as this one in Kitchari, provides us with the 10 essential amino acids our bodies require, making complete proteins for cultures around the world for years. Used as a cleanse and in conjunction with abstaining from other foods, the fat loss will be significant. Carbs are not the devil, folks…it’s just when they’re in the form of french fries.
Rice. On this I am a stickler. I highly recommend Basmati long grain rice. There are a few dietary reasons, but it is also really delicious and holds up well to the high pressure of cooking in the Instant Pot. If rice is problematic use tapioca starch, which is made from cassava root. White rice is essential for this cleanse because it has been milled off. The husk of brown rice can irritate the intestinal wall, cause gas or impede the cleanse digestion.
Mung Beans- perhaps the most exciting science is that research suggests two major mung bean flavonoids, vitexin and isovitexin, are able to TURN OFF one of the body’s major anti-aging switches(HMGB1), which triggers the release of toxic and degenerative cytokines in the body. Also considered the anti-gas bean, it can be given to infants and the very ill. In Ayurveda it’s considered the ‘cleansing bean’. They’re also an excellent source of magnesium. Mung bean or Moong beans will be available in a variety of sizes and colors…I’m not going to tell you which ones to buy because they are all good and it truly comes down to preference. However, if you have a Vata dominate dosha or are known to be particularly sensitive to gas-go with the split yellow Mung beans as they are considered the only bean in Ayurveda not to cause gas. Mung beans are a low FODMAP food but could be replaced with quinoa or millet if it isn’t well tolerated.
Spices- Holy cow folks if you haven’t yet heard of the incredible anti-inflammatory, circulatory and overall awesomeness of spices like turmeric, cinnamon, pepper, cumin…..and the list goes on, then I recommend you just Google them individually and see the long, long list of health benefits they provide.
Fair warning;there can be a little bit of upfront work with Kitchari gathering the ingredients and special kitchen equipment. I prefer to use an ‘Insta-Pot’ I purchased for about $80 from Sam’s Club. It was worth every single penny. I’m even about to buy a second one as well! I’ll write another post about the joys and ease of Instant Pot cooking. The other work comes in gathering ingredients you might not already stock in your pantry, Ayurveda spices and oils. My advice is to skip your local grocery store completely and go directly to your local Indian grocery. They sell spices in large sizes for a fraction of the cost. I cannot express this enough. Once you compare a slender, wee-tiny little jar of crusty old bay leaves for about $4.50 from your American grocer to a huge-big jar of full beautiful bay leaves from your Indian grocery for about $2 you’ll start buying all your spices there! Also, don’t buy everything already ‘ground’ to a powder. Instead of mustard powder, try whole mustard seeds, whole cardamom pods, whole pepper corns! Even if you decide you don’t like biting into the spice chunks (most kids won’t like it either), I implore you to at least grind your own spices at home just before use. It takes only a few extra moments to grind all the whole spices in one grinder and I feel like an ancient cook preparing the healing spices for my loved ones. And upgrading to whole spice cooking will be like you got a new tongue.
Again both Mung beans and Basmati rice can be purchased in very large, like ‘can I help you lift that, ma’am?’-sized bags, for an amazingly cheap amount of money at your Indian grocery.
Costs. Are you on a budget? Would you like to feed a picky eater/allergy sensitive/hungry crowd for less than $1 per pot? This is one more MIRACLE you get to enjoy with my Kitchari Instant Pot recipe, it costs so so little to make. I’ve often thought this would be the perfect meal for homeless or emergency shelters to serve.
But the bottom line for my family is EVERYONE can eat it and everyone WANTS to eat it. It’s fast and it’s not junk. It’s truly a healing food. It brings satisfaction and comfort so it’s a happy food too. Also the ingredients are all dry pantry items. Hey busy moms LEAN IN! That means you can actually have all of the ingredients you need just sitting in your pantry waiting for a hungry family needing a warm, yummy dinner in 20 minutes. I can pull it out of my pantry at any given moment and feed several hungry people with in 20 minutes of deciding we’re hungry. The leftovers-if there are any, lasts a good while in the fridge too.
So if you’ve made this far down my blog, you now know why I call Kitchari the Miracle Meal. I hope you enjoy this with your family and friends! Be sure to tag us if you post photos of your Kitchari, we want to see!
‘Put good in and good will come out!’
Be well, Namaste’
Here’s the recipe I use:
Instant Pot Kitachari (Vegan)
2 cups white basmati rice
1 cup split yellow mung dahl beans
2 teaspoons butter (ghee or vegan)
3-5 whole cardamom pods
1⁄2-1 inch fresh minced ginger root (or 1-2 teaspoons powdered)
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1-2 teaspoons peppercorn (ground or whole)
1 cinnamon or cassia stick (or powdered)
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2-3 whole cloves
3 whole bay leaves
1⁄2 teaspoon salt (Himalayan or sea)
6 cups filtered water (6 cups if using pressure cooker)
Before cooking have the measured rice & beans in a bowl set aside. Also have the measured water set aside in another bowl.
Put all spices into the pot with 2 tablespoons of butter, or alternative cooking oil. Press Saute to begin cooking the spices. Keep a close eye (and nose) on them, as they will quickly burn if you do not keep them moving. Once the spices start to pop, they're done. Add in the dry rice & beans and immediately stir to mix together. Once the rice & beans are well coated yellow with the spices & butter pour the water over and stir. Press the Cancel button to stop the sauté. Cover with lid and lock. Press the Rice/Risotto button, then adjust the cooking time manually for 14 minutes.
Once the timer has finished, you can either wait for the steam to naturally let off or you can manually release the steam. Natural release will produce a softer Kitchari. Manually release will produce a more firm Kitchari.
*raw chopped veggies, tempeh, seitan, or firm tofu can be added at the same time as the rice & beans.
*raw meat will need to be first sauted, then removed to saute the spices, then added again at the same time with the uncooked rice & beans
***Remove large spice pieces before serving.
Optionally serve with a dollop of butter or yogurt with fresh herbs and a lemon/lime wedge.