Kitchari

Kitchari (pronounced kitch-a-ree) is a staple comfort food of India, also known as khichari, khitchari and kitchiri, and also sometimes referred to as kedgeree (though incorrectly, as that is an English dish). The word ‘kitchari’ means ‘mixture’ or ‘mess’, as in ‘mess of pottage’ or ‘mess of stew’ or porridge mixture, usually of two grains.

Traditionally made of basmati rice and yellow dried split mung beans (moong dhal), along with digestive spices and ghee, kitchari is used as a cleansing and detoxifying food in Ayurveda. This is one kitchari recipe that is particularly nourishing and easy to digest — as long as you avoid using vegetables from the nightshade family, which are considered to have an inflammatory effect.

Preparation 15 minutes
Cooking 1 ¼ hours

Ingredients

  • 400 g (14 oz/2 cups) dried split yellow mung beans (moong dhal)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or organic sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 fresh curry leaf sprig, leaves picked
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional in winter)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 200 g (7 oz/1 cup) white basmati rice
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 2–5 cups chopped organic, seasonal vegetables, such as spinach, carrots, celery, bok choy (pak choy) and kale (avoid nightshades)
  • chopped coriander (cilantro), to serve (optional)

Method

Rinse and strain the mung beans five times, or until the water runs clear. Set aside.

Heat the ghee or sesame oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the mustard, cumin, fennel and fenugreek seeds and toast until the mustard seeds pop.

Add the curry leaves and ground spices, stirring well, then stir in the rice and beans.

Pour in 2 litres (70 fl oz/8 cups) water, and add the cloves, bay leaves, cardamom pods and vegetables.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 1 hour, until the beans and rice are soft, and the kitchari has a porridge-like consistency.

Serve warm, garnished with chopped coriander if desired.