Kitchari Diet : Sticks of Fire

Kitchari Diet

In US downing a hearty grain dish would not be called fasting. But in India kitchari — a soupy porridge made from rice and mung beans, lightly spiced with ginger, cilantro, and other spices—is considered a fasting food and is used to purify digestion and cleanse systemic toxins.

Ayurvedic physicians often prescribe a kitchari diet before, during, and after panchakarma, a rejuvenative treatment that cleanses toxins stored in bodily tissues as it restores systemic balance. Kitchari provides solid nourishment while allowing the body to devote energy to healing. You can safely subsist on kitchari anytime in order to build vitality and strength as it helps balance all three doshas. For restless vata, the warm soup is grounding; for fiery pitta, its spices are calming; and for chilly kapha, it provides healing warmth. Ayurveda believes that all healing begins with the digestive tract, and kitchari can give it a much-needed rest from constantly processing different foods while providing essential nutrients. The blend of rice and split mung beans offers an array of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Its mixture of spices is believed to kindle the digestive fire, the Ayurvedic description for your innate digestive power, which can be weakened by poor food combinations.

Kitchari tastes like a cross between a creamy rice cereal and a light dal, or lentil soup. If it is a cold, blustery day or you are feeling under the weather, a steaming bowl of this classic Indian comfort food can both warm up your bones and restore sagging energy. Here's the basic recipe(serves 3):
1 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup mung beans (whole, soaked overnight)
6 cups boiling water
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 pinch asafoetida (a spice also called hing—available at Indian groceries)
1 cup chopped vegetables, such as zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, or anything you choose (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin, coriander, or any other spices you choose (optional

1. Combine the rice with the mung beans and wash twice.
2. Place rice and beans into boiling water, adding the turmeric and asafoetida.
3. Cook over medium heat until the water is mostly absorbed.
4. Add one more cup of lukewarm water, vegetables, and optional spices if you're using them. The final dish should be a stew with a very moist and soft consistency.
Preparation: 30 minutes



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