How To Make The Famous Healing Kitchari Stew

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In Ayurveda cooking, kitchari or kichadi combines protein (mung dhal) and carbohydrates (basmati rice) into a single dish—it’s best known in Ayurveda as a cleansing and complete protein meal. This amazingly tasty dish heals digestive distress, balances the metabolism, is a potent blood and liver cleanser, assists in healthy weight loss, helps the body’s tissues to detox what they don’t need and absorb the nutrients they do, and is a breeze to make. Read on to find out how you can make this healing stew using my recipe below!

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Kitchari Stew Recipe You Can Try at Home

Digestion Is the Most Important Aspect of Health in Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, digestion is of the utmost importance! Based on the Ayurvedic understanding of Agni (digestive fire), white basmati is the most preferred form of rice as it’s the lightest and easiest to digest.

Specifically in terms of a kitchari cleanse, we are looking to eat light, digestible foods that are nourishing while also allowing our bodies to digest the accumulated ama (toxicity due to excess or improper foods the body has not digested fully, leading to a variety of maladies from indigestion and gas to high cholesterol and more). When your Agni is stronger, you are more capable of digesting heavier foods.

An Ayurvedic kitchari cleanse helps strengthen the Agni.

Use mung dhal (aka mung dal, mung dahl, or moong dal; it can be confusing!), which are yellow, split mung beans. They have been used for centuries to detoxify the body.

Don’t use whole, green mung beans—they are not as digestive-friendly and can cause extra gas or bloating.

There are lots of variations of kitchari, but here’s one I especially love in the fall and winter months. This recipe is tridoshic-friendly, healing for all doshas as it balances Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

Tip: If you don’t know your dosha (Ayurvedic body-mind type), take the test to find out.

Healing Kitchari Stew Recipe

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Now, we’re ready for the kitchari stew. Just remember to stay with two or three veggies in this dish, so it’s more easily digestible.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white organic basmati rice or organic quinoa (I’ve tried this, and it’s great too!), soak overnight and rinse well
  • ½–1 cup yellow split mung beans (see variations below), soak overnight and rinse well
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds or powder
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 5–6 cups water, more if adding extra veggies
  • 3 leaves of Swiss chard
    • Other options: spinach or kale
  • 1 cup each (or more—I love my veggies): carrots, sweet potato, celery
    • Optional veggies: asparagus, green beans, and beets
  • Garnish with cilantro, parsley, dill, or basil
  • 1–2 tbsp lime juice, per serving
  • 2 tsp sea salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Rinse rice and beans well (several times) and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, warm coconut oil over medium heat.
  3. Once the oil has warmed, add fennel, cumin, and turmeric. Keep in mind that turmeric stains everything so use stainless steel measuring spoons over plastic.
  4. Stir well, then add rice and beans, and combine well.
  5. When the rice and beans begin sticking to the sides of the pot, add ginger and water. Cover and bring to boil. Stir and set the timer for 20 minutes to allow rice and beans to cook at medium heat, a nice simmer.
  6. While the rice and beans are cooking, chop the Swiss chard, carrots, sweet potato, and celery. Also, chop up your garnish and set aside.
  7. Once the rice and beans are cooked, add vegetables and mix well. Add more water if necessary (depending on how many veggies you added), then cover, and allow the vegetables to cook, about another 20 minutes or so. The finished consistency should be rich, thick, and soupy.
  8. Pour into bowls and add the lime juice and fresh chopped garnish to each bowl. Season with more salt to taste and serve.

This is a very filling and satisfying kitchari stew. Start with a small bowl and see how it fills you up.

Be mindful and aware of how much you eat at every meal and enjoy it in a peaceful environment—no computer, TV, or loud distractions—with good, satisfying company and peaceful background music for best digestion and nutrient assimilation.

This kitchari instant pot makes 6–8 servings depending on the size of the bowls. For any leftovers, it’s best to reheat in a pan on the stove with little water to thin it out.

Consume within three days. Just remember that the longer something stays in the refrigerator (or freezer), the more lifeless it becomes.

Fresh is the best!

Dosha appropriate variations:

  • Kaphas do well with more beans and spices and less rice.
  • Pittas are best with equal parts beans and rice, lots of cilantro, and some appropriate spices.
  • Vatas are great with more rice and spices and fewer beans.

Nutritional Information of Kitchari and Its Other Health Benefits

Although I’ve mentioned earlier that this kitchari detox is a powerful cleansing food, I also want to highlight its nutritional information and other health benefits.

Basmati Rice

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Basmati rice has a lower glycemic index than long-grain rice, which makes it ideal for people trying to lose weight. It contains the following nutrients:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Protein
  • Dietary fiber
  • Potassium

Iron, for example, is a vital mineral that plays an important role in the many functions of the body. For one, it aids in boosting energy levels as it transports oxygen to the brain and muscles.

Low levels of this mineral can significantly affect your body's efficiency in using energy, resulting in reduced stamina, increased irritability, and lack of focus.

Mung Beans

Mung beans are tiny green beans belonging to the legume family. It has the following nutrients you can also take advantage of:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Protein
  • Dietary fiber

Vitamin C, for example, is a powerful antioxidant that protects your cells from free radical damage. It can also help improve your immune system as it fights bacteria and viruses, causing various illnesses.

The vitamin also plays a crucial role in making your skin look healthy as it aids in building collagen in the skin.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is popular for its richness in healthy fats and for being a healthy alternative for cooking oil. Its monounsaturated fat content can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

One study showed that high consumption of monounsaturated fat could help lower triglycerides and blood cholesterol levels.

Fennel Seeds

Fennel is a flowering plant belonging to the carrot family. Like carrots, it’s packed with nutrition like the following:

  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Iron
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A
  • Sodium
  • Potassium

Magnesium, for example, is part of the many biochemical reactions in your body. One of its functions is that it acts as a helper molecule in the enzymes' biochemical reactions.

The nutrient also aids in creating new proteins and converting food into energy.

Cumin Seeds or Powder

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Cumin is a type of spice from the Cuminum cyminum plant. It’s packed with nutrients your body needs, such as the following:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Protein
  • Dietary fiber
  • Potassium

Calcium, for example, is a nutrient important for your bone health, and it’s mostly present in your bones and teeth. Your body needs calcium for bone growth, development, and maintenance.

As you grow older, your body loses its calcium supply, so you need to take more of it from foods or supplements.

Ground Turmeric

Turmeric is a popular spice in many vegan recipes. It contains the following nutrients you can benefit from:

  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Dietary fiber
  • Protein

Potassium, for example, is an electrolyte that counteracts the effects of sodium in the body. This activity aids in keeping a stable blood pressure.

It’s also essential in maintaining the balance of bases and acids in your body. The increase in potassium levels and decrease in sodium supply in the body are vital in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Ginger

Ginger is known to add a delicious flavor to many types of recipes. It’s also rich in the following nutrients:

  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Iron
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Protein
  • Dietary fiber
  • Potassium

Vitamin B6, for example, is a water-soluble nutrient important for the metabolism of carbs, fat, and protein, as well as the creation of neurotransmitters and red blood cells. Your body cannot naturally produce this vitamin, though, so you have to get it from foods or supplements.

The vitamin is also crucial for regulating mood as it’s needed in creating neurotransmitters for regulating emotions.

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Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is a famous leafy green used in many different types of plant-based recipes. The vegetable possesses several nutrients, such as the following:

  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Iron
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A
  • Protein
  • Dietary fiber
  • Potassium
  • Sodium

Vitamin A, for example, is a fat-soluble vitamin important for the immune function, vision, and cell growth. The vitamin is also essential for maintaining good eye health as it contains retinol, the active form of vitamin A, necessary for low-light vision and color vision.

It aids in protecting your cornea, the eye's outermost layer, and conjunctiva, the thin membrane covering the eyelid's inside and the eye surface.

Fresh Cilantro

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Cilantro is a type of herb that's a delicious addition to most vegetable soups and other types of vegan dishes. It contains the following nutrients:

  • Iron
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A
  • Protein
  • Dietary fiber
  • Sodium

Protein is an essential nutrient in the body present in every body cell. Your body needs this nutrient to create and repair tissues and to make hormones, enzymes, and other body chemicals.

Protein is also a crucial building block of your blood, skin, cartilage, muscles, and bones.

Lime Juice

Lime juice comes from extracting liquid from the citrus fruit lime. This fresh fruit juice has nutrients like the following:

  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A
  • Protein
  • Dietary fiber
  • Potassium

Dietary fiber, for example, helps normalize bowel movements as it softens your stool. This nutrient can also help in normalizing loose and watery stool as it absorbs water from the stool.

Foods high in fiber are more filling than other types, making you eat less and letting you feel satisfied longer.

Sea Salt

Manufacturers make sea salt from the evaporation of seawater. The salt is commonly used for preserving food, in cosmetics, cooking, and seasoning of foods.

Sea salt is rich in sodium, a mineral that aids in regulating body fluids. This mineral’s channels and gateways pump water into the cells, keeping them hydrated.

Learn how to make a creamy white gazpacho with Jason Wrobel in this video from Sunwarrior:

Making kitchari stew at home is a delicious and healthy way to keep you warm, especially during the cold season. What's great about this kitchari recipe is you can add your favorite veggies to boost its nutritional benefits while keeping it flavorful.

Start making your own version of kitchari now to strengthen your digestive health!

Have you tried making your own kitchari stew? How was your experience? Share it in the comments section below!

Up Next:

Moong Dal photo By Sudeshna Banerjee (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 12, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.


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