Kitchari is an ancient Ayurvedic cleanse originating from India. Incidentally, it’s also a very tasty and hearty meal. I was surprised to find that I could get many of the ingredients in China rather easily with the exception of a few spices, so have been testing variation of this ancient recipe for a while now. Dr.Dharma Singh Khalsa refers to Kitchari in his lovely guide to Food As Medicine, and this recipe is largely an adaptation of his. Kitchari means mixture, usually of two grains. This kitchari recipe is particularly nourishing and easy to digest, recommendable when your digestion is a bit off or when you’re reintroducing foods after a liquid cleanse. Or just because like me, you enjoy eating hearty but healthy vegan meals. This recipe serves 4.
The base of this dish is the flavoursome mostly Indian seasoning and the kombu, an edible sea kelp popular in Japanese cooking. Interestingly, a combination of kombu and mung beans (in fact, all beans) is that it helps break down the raffinose sugar contained in the beans. Not a big problem, but the raffinose sugar contained in beans can cause intestinal gas. Very handy indeed. The kombu also accelerates the cooking time of the beans from dry.
Furthermore, the mung beans are a highly recommended pantry staple. High in fibre, magnesium, potassium and B vitamins, mung beans are so versatile. In China, they are the base ingredient for the delicious Lǜdòugāo (绿豆糕, Green Bean Cake) as well as a number of other mostly sweetened dishes. The flour and the beans are readily available and very well priced, even the organic versions. They are also very quick to sprout, see the page on Fresh Sprouts and download my free quick guide on Sprouting Times for more information on that.
Mung beans, 1 cup
Basmati rice, 1 cup
Mineral or filtered water, 9 cups
Finely chopped seasonal vegetables (such as carrots, white radish, celery, broccoli etc.), 4-6 cups
Bay leaves, 2
Finely chopped onions, 2
Kombu seaweed, 1 inch piece
Extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp
Ground turmeric (or minced fresh turmeric), 1-2 tbsp
Garam masala spice mix, 1 tbsp
Ground cardamom, 1 tbsp
Garlic,minced, 2 cloves
Fresh ginger,minced, 1/2 cup
Crushed red chillies, 1 tbsp
Coriander powder, 1/2 tbsp
Cumin seeds, 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds, 1 tbsp
Asafoetida (Hing), 1 pinch
Ground black pepper, to taste
Sea salt, or seaweed salt like Herbamare, to taste
Fresh chopped coriander, to garnish
1. Boil the mineral water and add all the seasoning.
2. When boiling, as the rice and mung beans and cook for 40 minutes on a medium-high heat.
3. Add all other vegetables after 30 minutes so they only cook for around 10 minutes.
3. When the rice and mung beans have cooked through and the water has evaporated take off the heat and serve.
Use seasonal vegetables: root vegetables are preferable in winter and leafy spring greens in summer. Alter the flavours and seasoning according to your tastes: for example, substitute bay leaves for kaffir lime leaves, ground cardamom for ground sage, crushed red chillies for ground Szechuan pepper and so on.