When I first made kitchari, I was like “no”. No kitchari week-long fast. No kitchari every day for lunch. I will not eat it in a boat…not with a goat. Then I made it again for prudence sake, then for bragging rights, then to be pious. Then I made it because it tastes good and I like the texture and the spices are nice filling the house and I’m cold. Then my husband started making it for me. Then he started eating it. Now the baby loves it.
With so many cleanses running around the internet, it’s hard to know what really works; what is right for us. What can be done without requiring hospitalization or needing the in-laws to take 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.
Some cleanses are very harsh. Ayurveda is all about gentle. The body must be coaxed to health in increments.
Also in the market for cheap/fast/easy. No fancy supplements, etc.
Kitchari is Ayurveda’s super star food. Eaten when we need extra nourishment. Fasting is a part of Ayurveda, but not unless the person is pretty healthy.
My Ayurvedic Practitioner was like “you are not healthy enough” for a hard-core fast. He also told me to stop obsessively doing so many Ayurvedic activities and relax a little. See my chart, right. I’m not sure what he was talking about, LOL.
A great alternative to fasting is a mono-diet of Kitchari (or Khichadi or Khichdi). Kitchari is easy to digest and our bodies feel good knowing what to expect. We keep blood sugars stable and get less grumpy. We can function at home and work without needing a white-robed retreat. Also, Kitchari takes like 2 seconds to make.
Didn’t we just finish talking about the importance of six tastes at every meal? We did! Herbs and greens can be added to the Kitchari to get the tastes in. A popular herbal addition is cilantro. When under the weather, go with the kitchari and forget the six tastes. We can get back to the six tastes when stronger.
Once you get used to it, try having Kitchari for breakfast and throughout the day. It can be similar in feeling and texture to cream of wheat or oatmeal.
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 or vested interest – 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
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
Soak the rice and beans overnight. Drain. Melt ghee in a large saucepan. Add Kitchari Spice Mix, saute 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.
Khichadi is the traditional diet during pancha karma (a cleanse). Eat two cups full per meal. Add vegetables if desired. Adding vegetables to the lunch and dinner kitchari will get nutrients in if you are feeling depleted. And if a dessert is needed, just take out spice mix; 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, bathe frequently. Read/watch happy frivolity. Cry at commercials or Rom-Coms. Walk in nature. Be alone. Take a time out. If these activities can be done for a week, it will rest us up: body, mind, and soul.
Ready to take on this Winter.
Raichur, Pratima (1997). Absolute Beauty. HarperPerennial