Kitchari – The New Fast

When I first made kitchari, I was like “no”.

“Oh-ho, no.”

It’s not cheesy, it’s not barbequed, and it doesn’t contain chocolate. Rather, it’s basically Cream of Wheat with spices. So no. No kitchari for breakfast. No kitchari every day for lunch. No kitchari week-long fast. I will not eat it in a boat…not with a goat.

OK but it seems like a big deal in Ayurveda? The kitchari?

So… I made it again for prudence sake…then for bragging rights…then to be pious.

Hmm…then I made it because it tastes good and I like the texture and the spices smell so nice wafting about the house. Mmmmm. And now, NOW…my husband starts making it for me. Suddenly he is eating it. Next thing I know, the kids love it. Winning and winning.

Cleanses: Beware

With so many cleanses running around the internet, it’s hard to know what really works or which cleanse is right for us. What can I do to myself that won’t require hospitalization or a need to get rid of the kids for a week? I come from a long line of meat and potatoes, so to suddenly switch to water, lemon and cayenne pepper might shock the ‘ol system a bit.

Try a gentle Kitchari Cleanse

Some cleanses are very harsh, but Ayurveda is all about gentle. The body must be coaxed to health in increments. Kitchari is Ayurveda’s super star food. Traditionally, it is used for cleanses and also for when we need extra nourishment (mom’s who practice Ayurveda give it to their children when they are ill).

A great alternative to fasting is a mono-diet of kitchari. A mono-diet means that all you get to eat is the kitchari, for all three meals (and nothing else). Kitchari is easy to digest and our bodies feel good knowing what to expect. We keep our blood sugars stable and we get less grumpy than a fast where we can’t eat. We can function at home and work without needing a white-robed retreat (but dang, if you can do one, please do).

Kitchari Spice Mix

All of these spices can be found at an Indian grocery or health food store. This will make a nice sized batch – lots of meals will come out of this amount. No need to be precise with the measurements. If you have most of the spices at home, just throw some together and start with that. You can also just buy a bag of Kitchari Spice Mix at Banyan Botanicals: (I have no affiliation – it’s much cheaper to make it at home).

  • 1/2 Cup Turmeric Powder
  • 1/2 Cup Cumin Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Ginger Powder
  • 2 tbsp Natural Mineral Salt or Himalayan Salt
  • 2 tbsp Brown Mustard Seed
  • 1 tsp Asafoetida Powder
  • 1 tsp Fenugreek Powder

Kitchari Recipe

  • 1 Cup Basmati Rice
  • 1/2 Cup Mung Dal Beans (yellow, split if possible)
  • 2 tbsp Ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1-2 tsp kitchari spice mix
  • 6 Cups Water
  • 1 Cup vegetables, if desired

khichdi recipe | dal khichdi recipe | moong dal khichdi | kichadi recipe
Kitchari has several spellings/pronunciations, in case you google

Soak the rice and beans overnight. Drain.

Melt ghee in a large saucepan. Add Kitchari Spice Mix, sauté for about 2 minutes.

Add rice and beans, saute for a few minutes (maybe 4-5). Add water. Bring to a boil, cover, simmer until liquid is absorbed (half an hour to an hour; test out how it tastes best; sometimes really soupy and other times with the liquid fully absorbed). Serve.

This recipe a hybrid is from the Banyan Botanicals Kitchari Spice Mix bag, loosely remembered (it’s simple), but kitchari is considered fairly universal in it’s preparation. There are plenty of great recipes out there that give it a bit of variety.

One quick tweak is to have the same amount of rice and beans. Many Khichadi recipes call for this.

Another is to use fresh grated ginger, fresh cinnamon bark & a few whole cardamom seeds.

Ayurvedic kitchari - A Williams Raines Plant-Based Recipe

Kitchari “Fast”

Khichadi is the traditional diet during pancha karma (a cleanse). Eat two cups of kitchari per meal. Add vegetables if desired, though a traditional cleanse would NOT add veggies. However, adding vegetables to the lunch and dinner kitchari will get nutrients in if you are feeling depleted. And if a dessert or more of an AM flavor is needed, just take out the kitchari spice mix (above); instead add raisins, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. Throughout the day, drink at least 6-8 cups of water and herbal tea (CCF, lemon, ginger etc).

Modifications can and should be made: e.g.: have kitchari for 2 meals and a regular meal for one. If possible, have the regular food meal at lunch (whatever works).

Rest a lot. Sleep as much as possible, take it easy on the media, go to a yoga nidra class (even better, do one through an app and stay in jammies), bathe frequently. Read/watch happy frivolity (Gilmore Girls). Cry at commercials or Rom-Coms. Walk in nature. Journal. Be alone. Take a time out. If you can completely slow down your life for three days to a week, it will rest you up: body, mind, and soul. As you take this time-out, think about how to incorporate some of these activities into your daily life. A short morning practice from the menu of self-care activities will start your day right, and may just lead to the deep healing that we all need.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Samantha West says:

    Love this article! Just did this for breakfast and was amazing and fulfilling. Will add raisins next time, good idea.

    1. jenny says:

      Thank you Sam! I just had it the other day, so warming. I’m working up to the cleanse, though spring is here (Spring Equinox 3/20) so a good time. I’m going to look at my work schedule and find a 5-day or so span to do it. Cheers!

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