Heard your colleagues gushing about how a daily bowl of Kitchari helped improve their overall health remarkably?
Well, alien as the term might sound to anyone initially, Kitchari can indeed benefit your digestive system and, ultimately, your overall health in various ways. It’s an all-natural Indian delicacy passed across generations and has emerged as a healthy detox solution worldwide.
But to understand its composition and how it’s prepared, you’ll need to be aware of different aspects of this healing meal. That’s why we’ve curated this guide on all the essentials.
So, without further ado, let’s get straight to the deets.
What Is Kitchari?
Kitchari refers to a traditional cleanse or healing meal in the Ayurveda, which is among the oldest systems of medicine with its roots in the Indian Subcontinent. It’s basically a one-pot meal consisting of rice and mung beans that you’ll need to include in your diet for at least three days to three weeks to experience significant health improvement.
You can have Kitchari any time during the year, though the best time to practice this cleanse is during seasonal changes.
The Benefits Of Kitchari
This traditional Ayurvedic dish has been applied in several detoxifying regimes in the Ayurveda owing to its soothing effect on the digestive system. In this section, we’ll be looking at how Kitchari helps in digestion and the other ways in which it can benefit our health.
1. Easy To Digest
The main ingredient used for Kitchari is soaked mung daal, which isn’t a legume but a pulse that can be easily digested by all, including people intolerant to legumes.
When combined with basmati rice and a couple of simple digestive spices, it feels almost as light as the food given to babies. All the grains used in the recipe are easily broken down by the digestive system. So, you’re unlikely to face any discomfort in digestion even upon regular consumption.
That’s why this simple meal can be your perfect break from a routine consisting of salads and smoothies that are more difficult to digest.
2. A Balanced Diet
Another key aspect of this intriguing Ayurvedic meal is that it comes with all the essential nutrients required to support your health. Additionally, it can help the body to heal, cleanse, and recover from an extensive workout session or other strenuous activities.
Kitchari is a balanced meal containing all the three macronutrients, viz. fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, required to keep any individual nutritionally satisfied. Such attributes make it an ideal meal for the elderly, sick, and young people, as well as for post-partum and post-operative healing.
And that’s not all; the mung beans have beneficial effects on the gallbladder and liver, while the seasonal vegetables and spices promote better digestive function and circulation.
3. Naturally Gluten-Free
Considering that most people are switching to gluten-free foods nowadays, including this delicious dish in your daily diet plan will be a great idea. All the ingredients used in this meal are naturally gluten-free and are thus unlikely to irritate your body in any way.
On the contrary, Kitchari can heal an inflamed and sensitive gut, implying that it’s extremely useful for correcting issues such as irregular bowels and bloating of the stomach.
4. Improves Energy Levels
In addition to enhancing effective recovery from strenuous activities and operative procedures, Kitchari also helps raise energy levels. This is made possible by stabilizing the blood sugar levels and enhancing detoxification, whereby the body feels energized, and you also achieve mental clarity.
Additionally, you might notice that the taste buds feel revitalized as you’re able to perceive more flavors and are more content with your meals.
5. Removes Congestion Or Heaviness
Notably, Kitchari is suitable for all bodily constitutions, referred to in the Ayurveda as Pitta, Vata, and Kapha.
Kapha refers to the congestion or heaviness that you might experience as a result of prolonged cough and cold problems. It’s among the most common health issues faced by the young and old alike. That’s why it becomes essential to adopt an effective nutritional plan to counter such issues.
Interestingly, this delicious recipe has been shown to expel heaviness or congestion from the body. Preparing the meal with all the recommended spices can be useful in this regard as their combination helps in neutralizing such problems.
A Basic Kitchari Recipe
Now that you’ve learned about this out-of-the-box natural healing meal, it’s time to know some simple steps to prepare it at home anytime. Though you should ideally prepare a fresh version of the instant pot kitchari daily, it’s possible to batch cook and store the meal in the refrigerator for at most three days.
- A mixture of sesame oil, ghee (clarified butter), and coconut oil (1 tbsp each)
- Cumin seeds (1 tsp)
- 1½ fennel seeds (1 tsp)
- Mustard seeds (1 tsp)
- Ground coriander (1 tsp)
- Six pods of cardamom
- One stick of cinnamon
- Turmeric (½ tsp)
- One 2-inch fresh ginger piece (peeled and grated, 2 tbsp)
- Sea salt (½ tsp)
- Yellow split mung beans (soaked and drained overnight 1 cup)
- Asafetida (optional, 2 pinches)
- Water or vegetable broth (8 cups)
- Kombu kelp (optional, 1 to 2 pieces)
- Lemon juice (optional, from ½ lemon)
- Fresh cilantro
Begin by putting a large instant pot on medium heat and warming up the sesame oil. You may also use a medium pot for the purpose depending upon the amount you wish to make. Then add the mustard seeds and cook while occasionally sauteing till you hear a pop.
At this point, add the cinnamon stick, ginger, cumin seeds, ground coriander, fennel seeds, cardamom pods, sea salt, and asafetida, and stir the blend for 30 seconds.
You’ll have to add the basmati rice and mung dal along with the kombu and stir for another minute so that the flavors blend properly.
The next step will be to bring it to a gentle boil by adding water. Make sure to stir so that the heat reduces, then cover and cook the mixture for around an hour or till the water is absorbed and the mixture acquires a creamy consistency resembling that of risotto.
Alternatively, you can also pressure cook this meal by blending all the ingredients and bringing it to pressure for a minute. Then turn the heat off and wait for an hour till it’s done to perfection.
Finally, remove the pot from heat and add lime juice and some chopped cilantro. With that, your meal will be ready for serving.
How And When To Eat Kitchari
While you’re on a routine for cleansing your body, it’s best to have Kitchari twice a day. Ayurveda recommends eating the largest meal during noon when the digestive fire (Agni) is the strongest.
If you’re an early riser, your breakfast can be the other meal, while for those who stay up till late at night, the other meal can be taken for dinner. And the serving size is up to you, though Ayurveda suggests having the amount that will make your stomach feel 2/3rds full. Note that following this rule will make you feel satisfied but won’t bloat the stomach.
All in all, make sure to listen to your body in all circumstances, be alert about how you feel after having a considerable amount, and decide accordingly. Another point to remember is that you must always eat when you’re truly hungry and not due to stress or frustration.
Precautions To Take Before Starting A Kitchari Cleanse
First of all, a cleansing routine can be restrictive, which makes it difficult to adhere to, so you might want to begin with a shorter cleanse to understand what it feels like.
Kitchari cleanses can last for several days, while the general detox plans are just 48 or 72-hour long.
Also, you should consider any potential side effects or other issues with the ingredients. Be careful to note any cravings or symptoms that make you uncomfortable physically.
For instance, you might experience reluctance to have caffeinated drinks in case you didn’t limit the intake before beginning the routine. This meal is also not ideal for menstruating women and those who are breastfeeding or pregnant.
In case you have any other health concerns about trying out this cleanse, it’s best to discuss it with a nutritionist or a physician. They can assist you in knowing the risks and making a well-informed decision on whether the Kitchari cleanse is ideal for you.
Significance Of The Key Ingredients Of Kitchari
1. Yellow Mung Beans (Split)
These are obtained by splitting whole mung beans, during which their husks are removed to reveal the yellow split beans. Notably, these are also referred to as moong dal or mung dal.
The digestibility of these beans is enhanced when their husks are removed. In fact, they are a rich source of folic acid and fiber and also come with a range of minerals like phosphorus, zinc, potassium, and iron. Mung beans also help treat gastrointestinal inflammation and have an overall cooling effect on the body.
2. White Basmati Rice
Similar to mung dal, basmati rice is obtained after brown rice is hulled, which makes it easier to process for the digestive system. And in combination with the split mung beans, white basmati makes for a complete protein source. Interestingly, such plant foods have been clubbed together in various cultures across the world.
For instance, rice and beans are combined in Mexico, whereas it’s a combination of beans and pasta in Italy that creates a complete protein.
3. Ghee (Clarified Butter)
Ghee is obtained by cooking butter till the water and milk solids separate from the fat. That’s why the end product is free of lactose or casein, which makes it suitable for people who are intolerant to both these substances.
At the same time, ghee imparts a buttery, creamy taste to the Kitchari. But vegans can use olive oil or coconut instead.
Q1. How should you reintroduce food following a Kitchari cleanse?
It’s best to gradually reintroduce other cooked foods such as sweet potato, quinoa, stews, vegetables, curries, etc. For the first few days, make sure to avoid cold, frozen, and raw foods such as smoothies containing frozen fruit or kale salads that are difficult to digest. Note that the main objective is to have foods that can be digested readily.
Q2. How does an ayurvedic diet work?
The Ayurvedic diet sets certain guidelines for how, what, and when you should eat, depending upon the body type or Dosha. Here are the primary characteristics of the three Doshas and the types of food that are suitable for each:
1. Vata – Creative, Lively, And Energetic
People with this dosha generally have a thin frame and struggle with fatigue, anxiety, or digestive issues when they’re slightly out of balance. People with this dosha should opt for moist, warm, and grounding food items while restricting intake of bitter herbs, dried fruits, and raw vegetables.
2. Pitta – Intelligent, Decisive, And Hardworking
Such people generally have a medium physique and might be faced with conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and indigestion. They should ideally go for energizing and cooling foods and avoid too spicy foods, seeds, and nuts.
3. Kapha – Grounded, Calm, And Loyal
Those with Kapha dosha have a sturdy frame and may suffer from issues such as asthma, weight gain, and depression. Such people should include more fruits, pulses, and vegetables in their diet and avoid heavy food items such as oils, seeds, and nuts.
With that, it’s time for us to wrap up.
We hope you enjoyed learning the Kitchari recipe and other interesting facts relating to this meal. So, if you feel your digestive system needs a “reboot”, don’t delay starting the Kitchari cleanse that we’ve explained in our guide. We’re sure you’ll start noticing the results within a week.
But before bringing down the curtains, we’d like to share a pro-tip with you. If you want to include a drink while you’re on a cleanse, try herbal tea, as it’s less dehydrating than coffee or alcohol. That said, it will be best to take small sips all day long to keep the digestive tract hydrated, rather than gulping down a larger amount at once.
We’ll sign off for now but see you soon with more recipes. Till then, take care!