Kitchari is easy to cook, readily digestible, nourishing, balancing, and cleansing for all dosha types. Here is a basic everyday recipe, plus ideas to substitute and mix different pulses and grains, vegetables, and spices.
1 1⁄2 cups split mung beans
1 cup basmati rice
2 tsp ghee or oil
1⁄2 tsp turmeric
1⁄2 tsp unrefined salt
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
6 cups water (add extra 1⁄2 cup if grains not pre-soaked)
2 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp whole or ground seeds of cumin
1⁄2 tsp fennel seeds
1⁄2 tsp mustard seeds
1⁄2 tsp ajowan seeds
1⁄2 tsp fenugreek seeds
Rinse and drain grains and place in a pressure cooker or cookpot with all other pot ingredients (not the tadka ingredients). Fit lid and place over medium heat.
If using a pressure cooker, allow the vessel to come to pressure for a few toots, or jingle for five minutes (a little longer if the grains are not pre-soaked). Remove from heat and allow to stand for ten minutes. If pot cooking, cover and bring to boil then reduce to a simmer for twenty minutes. Add more water if necessary.
While the grains cook, make the tadka in a heavy-bottomed pan. Warm the ghee and oil over low heat. Add the seeds and lightly toast until the mustard kernels pop, the fenugreek seed turn dark brown (not black or they become bitter!), and the pan is aromatic. Add any powdered spices. If you are adding onions or tomatoes (see later variations) add a pinch of salt. Stir and allow to gently sizzle for a few minutes, then cover and remove from heat.
When the grains are ready keep them simmering and stir in the tadka. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Replace the lid, remove the kitchari from the flame, and allow it to stand five minutes before serving.
During modified fasting or convalescence use rice and mung dal in a ratio of 2:1 or 3:1. Reduce seasoning to turmeric, cumin seeds, and salt.
In daily meals, use different varieties of lentils— red, yellow, brown, and rice—long grain, short grain, brown, red. Mix different combinations of lentils or rice together.
Add chopped vegetables such as carrots, green beans, peas, cauliflower, or squash while cooking the grains. For pot cooking add vegetables at any stage—hard vegetables earlier, and soft veggies toward the end.
Add additional spices to the tadka such as chili, black pepper, bay leaves, ginger root, or garlic. And ingredients (after the spices are roasted) such as diced or sliced onion, tomato, mush- rooms, zucchini, spinach, or kale. In general, add only one or two different vegetables; too many confuses the flavours.
Serve with a generous squeeze of lemon or lime or dollop of fresh herb chutney. Vāta types can add extra ghee; oil; salt. Pitta types can add ghee; sliced cucumber; fresh coriander; salad greens. Kapha types might like fresh chili or ginger root; black pepper; fresh herbs; salad greens.
To make a lentil curry, or dal, simply exclude the rice and reduce the water to 4 1⁄2 cups. Use one, two, or a mix of lentil varieties. You can reduce the spice quantities, or leave as stated.
A drink of plain yogurt churned with water, plus digestive spices, salt, sweetener, nuts, or fruit. Consume at room temperature, ideally before or after lunch. But don’t drink it every day, or at night, or in winter or spring, as it is likely to become congestive!
1. Blend equal parts of freshly cultured, natural yogurt with room temperature water* for one to two minutes.
2. Skim the fatty foam off the top (or not), and mix in a good pinch of ginger powder and cumin powder, according to taste.
*This ration of yoghurt to water may best suit vāta types, but is heavier to digest For a weak vāta digestion, and for pitta and kapha types, use a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3 or 1:4 parts yogurt to water.
To modify, and in general:
-- Vāta types can use a yoghurt:water ratio of 1:1 or 1:2, and add a pinch of unrefined sugar or salt.
-- Pitta types can use a yoghurt:water ratio of 1:2 or 1:3, and add jaggery, unrefined sugar, or maple syrup; or fresh cilantro or mint; or mild powdered spices such as cardamom or coriander. They can substitute ginger powder for fresh ginger or ginger juice.
-- Kapha types can use a yoghurt:water ratio of 1:4, and add pungent spices such as extra dry ginger, or black pepper. If sweetness is required, add a little honey.
1⁄4 cup yogurt
3⁄4 cup water
1⁄8–1⁄4 tsp ginger powder
1⁄2 tsp cumin seeds or powder
A good pinch of rock salt
2 tsp chopped coriander to garnish
Supports the digestive fires and helps to balance all doshas.
Take after lunch.
1⁄4 cup yogurt
3⁄4 cup water
1⁄4 tsp cardamom powder
1–2 tbsp unrefined sugar (to taste)
1 drop of rosewater or blend in 5 or 6 rose petals
Cooling for pitta dosha and refreshing for all dosha types in the summer heat.