What is kitchari?
Kitchari is a traditional ayurvedic dish and can very efficiently balance the three constitutions (vata, pitta and kapha).
The specificity of ayurvedic medicine is the concept of the six tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, spicy and astringent. This recipe can be considered tri-doshic as it contains all the six tastes in adequate proportions to balance the three doshas.
In India, kitchari is often used after a purifying treatment called Panchakarma, to heal some illnesses, and during the recovery period. It brings all the necessary nutrients (protein, carbs, lipids and fibers) so as to give the tissues and the organism their vitality back when the latter has been suffering from disease.
The word kitchari means ‘mix’ in Sanskrit. It’s a mix of two grains: rice, and mungo beans (the famous small green bean) or mung dal beans (the same bean but peeled and sliced in two).
Why eat it on a regular basis?
Most legumes are astringent, but mungo beans on the other hand have an alkaline quality which balances the three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) and reduces the sourness of our body so as to purify it and increase its immunity. This recipe is therefore perfect for strengthening our immune system and fight off viruses!
The spices used can balance our digestive fire (Agni), enhance the cleansing process of our internal organs and our blood, while balancing the three doshas.
With time, the accumulation of toxins (through pollution found in air, water and food, as well as poor food quality, stress and negative emotions) weakens our internal organs which become overwhelmed and cannot cope with their task of assimilating minerals and nutrients. This generates fatigue, headaches, inflammation, irritability, queasiness, and thus increases the risks of developing diseases.
In order to enhance the detoxification process, it is possible to eat it as a single-food diet over a period of time going from several days to several weeks, by eating a bowl of kitchari three times a day.
This lightens the digestive organs, balances the digestive fire which is in the stomach (jathar agni), so as to eliminate the toxins (ama) from the body, as a consequence our digestive and assimilation capacities are enhanced.
And thus, our mental capacities of assimilation and digestion are also increased, we have clearer ideas, and the thinking process and digestion of information are also more efficient.
Benefits for yoga practice?
With yoga practice, we try to calm our emotions, and our emotional body, in order to have correct mental perceptions. Yet, for our emotional body to be clear, the purity of our food is also very important. Just as important as the purity of our words, thoughts and also of our virtual and online intake.
Thus, the quality and purity of our food directly influences our emotional and energetic bodies, impacting our mental body as well as our capabilities to make efficient use of our thinking and perceiving body.
Recipe for 4 people
- 2 cups of basmati rice
- 1 cup of mung dal beans
- 9 cups of water
- 1 Tsp of ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 small section of fresh ginger (or 1 tsp ground ginger)
- 0,5 tsp black pepper (only if one needs to stimulate the digestive fire)
- A dash of lime
- A few leaves of coriander
- The evening before, thoroughly wash the rice and the mung dal until the water gets clear and leave them to soak all night so as to remove starch and thus ease their digestion.
- The next day, drain the rice and mung dal.
- Prepare the vaghar: gently heat the ghee or coconut oil and add the spices (without burning them!)
- Add the mix of rice and mung dal and stir.
- Add water and bring it to a boil, then reduce to low heat and cook it for about 20 minutes.
- Before serving, add a dash of lime and a few leaves of coriander.
- Serve it with some cooked root vegetables such as carrots or turnips.