A couple of weeks ago, I found myself feeling slightly unsettled and uncomfortable after every meal or snack that I ate. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was nauseous, but it definitely did not feel right. By the second day of this, I started to realize that my digestive system was not running at optimum level and I knew I had to do something about it. In cases like this, it is often recommended to fast for a short period of time to give the digestive tract a break and allow it to recover (similar to how we rest when we are ill). I think this is excellent advise most of the time, however as a busy mama I knew there was no way I would be able to go even one full day without eating. So I turned to Ayurveda once again, and found a doable solution to my problem: a kitchari fast.
Kitchari, a “porridge” of basmati rice and mung beans cooked in ghee and a few spices, is probably the most typically Ayurvedic food there is. Here’s why:
- White basmati rice is very easy to digest, as the hull has been removed. Likewise, mung beans are considered the most easily digested of all legumes.
- The rice and beans together form a complete protein (meaning that they contain all of the essential amino acids our body cannot make on its own).
- Ghee is one of the most easily assimilated fats and therefore adds nourishment and boosts absorption of many vitamins and minerals while still allowing the digestive system to rest.
- The spices included are all digestion-enhancing as well as flavorful, and when used in small amounts are balancing to all three doshas.
I have been making kitchari as an easy lunch for a few years now and I love it! So simple yet fulfilling, and I have never once felt the uncomfortable symptoms of indigestion after eating it. It is very easy to make and the only “difficult” part is planning ahead so that your lentils have time to soak. I have seen tons of recipes with varying ratios of rice to lentils but I prefer to make it 1:1. Here is how to make a single serving portion which you can easily double/triple/quadruple etc. depending on how long you are “fasting” on it.
- 1/4 cup of mung beans
- 1/4 cup of basmati rice
- 1 tablespoon of ghee
- 1/4 tsp each ground cumin, coriander and turmeric
- salt and pepper to taste
How to make:
- Starting the night before you want to cook, place your mung beans in a bowl, cover with room temp water and leave to soak overnight.
- The next morning/evening measure out your rice into a sieve and wash it very well.
- Drain and rinse your lentils.
- In a medium pot over medium heat, add your ghee and spices. Allow the spices to toast in the oil for a minute or 2 but be careful not to let them burn.
- Add your rinsed and drained lentils and rice, stirring to coat everything in the spiced ghee. Saute for about a minute.
- Add 1.25 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Kitchari can be eaten at any texture from soupy to thick porridge, so make sure to check it and take it off the heat whenever it is cooked how you like it.
- Salt and pepper to taste and dig in! (Tip: whenever cooking dried beans or lentils DO NOT SALT until they are finished cooking! This makes them easier to digest and eliminates the gassiness that beans have a reputation for.)
- OPTIONAL: If you want to prepare kitchari as a lunch to take with you to work/school, follow steps 1-6 and then pour the whole thing while still boiling into a 24 oz thermos and close tightly. (Turmeric STAINS people! Ask me how I know…) The rice and beans will continue to cook in the hot liquid and it will be ready to eat in a few hours with no more effort on your part! I ate this about 3 times a week when I was working and I have to say, I never got tired of it. Just remember to bring your salt and pepper with you. I kept a small container in my purse along with a couple disposable spoons so I would be ready to eat whenever, wherever!
My son and I currently eat this at least once a week and he seriously gobbles it up! I’ve had to keep increasing my batch size otherwise he will happily eat all of his and ask for mine too (#momlife). We really love pairing it with some sauerkraut or our favorite dill pickled carrot sticks. Let me know if you try it out!