Oct 29, 2014 04:00PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
For a more introspective approach to detoxing consider Ayurveda, the world’s oldest holistic medical system. Kitchari is a classic Ayurvedic mono diet (eating one type of food for a period of time) dish that is very nourishing and gentle on the digestive system. Even if you’re not ready to take on a mono diet (let’s see how we feel come Thanksgiving) Kitchari is actually very enjoyable and worth getting acquainted with. You can use it as a hearty side to any dish or enjoy it as a meal.
I had to familiarize myself with Ayurveda for this dish so don’t worry if you have no idea what it is, I’ll give you a (very) brief overview. I could get into elements and doshas, which play a big part, but instead I’ll stick to how Ayurveda pertains to cleansing the body. Ayurveda is like a sister science of yoga. It translates to “science of life” and is an ancient practice that’s over 5,000 years old. Ayurvedic practices strive to find out the cause of digestive disorders, not just treat the symptoms.
For example, if you suffer from a lot of acid reflux it would mean your agni, or digestive fire, is high according to Ayurveda. In order to address this issue you would try to “reset” your digestion with a period of detox, followed by a cleansing mono diet. After 4-5 days of nothing but say, Kitchari (mono diet stage), your digestive system is almost like a blank slate. From there, you slowly reintroduce foods into your diet paying attention to what kind of effect they have. You might start with fruits and vegetables for the first day or so and then maybe add some grains. Eventually, you reincorporate proteins like fish and meats. At this point, the emphasis is self-care and taking time for you. Ultimately, the goal is not to lose weight, it’s to focus on digestive functionality.
I have to admit I had some mild reservations about this dish. To be frank, I thought it would be a pile of flavorless mush. However, upon completion I was extremely happy with the results. The rice and mung dal provide a nice comfort food-like base for the vegetables (I use sweet potato, zucchini, asparagus, and onion) and is not mushy. The sautéed seeds in ghee (clarified butter) give the dish an excellent flavor, not to mention the cilantro. It just goes to show, don’t be intimidated by something just because it’s outside of your comfort zone. I found all the ingredients except for one at Whole Foods. The Asafoetida isn’t available anywhere locally as far as I know, so I would recommend looking for it online. I opted not to use it since the recipe only calls for a pinch. As with everything in this dish it aids with digestion, specifically for the grains involved so it’s a bonus if you can get your hands on it.
- ½ cup Basmati rice
- 1 cup mung dal
- 6 cups water
- ½-1 inch ginger root, grated
- ¼ teaspoon mineral salt
- 2 teaspoon ghee
- ½ teaspoon Coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 pinch of Asafoetida (Hing)
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 ½ cups assorted vegetables (zucchini, asparagus, sweet potato)
1. Carefully pick over rice and dal to remove any stones. Wash each separately in at least 2 changes of water. Add the 6 cups of water to the rice and dal and cook covered until it becomes soft, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare any vegetables that suit your constitution. Cut them into small pieces. Add the vegetables to the cooked rice and dal mixture and cook 10 minutes longer.
3. In a separate saucepan, sauté the seeds in the ghee until they pop. Then add the other spices. Stir together to release the flavors. Stir the sautéed spices into the cooked dal, rice, and vegetable mixture. Add the mineral salt and chopped fresh cilantro and serve.
Adapted from: “Kitchari Recipe.” The Ayurvedic Institute. Oct. 2014. Web. 2011. https://www.ayurveda.com/online_resource/kitchari_recipe.html
Ayurveda Consultant: Chris Lean (Local Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist)