Kitchari / Kichadi
Healing lentil and rice vegetarian stew
The Healthy Family Table
We grew up eating kichadi almost every Sunday night. For years, I thought it was because we had eaten through everything fresh in the fridge and our poor mom was exhausted. She probably was, indeed with three kids and a full time job. In reality, my mom was helping to reset us and nourish us for the week to come. Many of the things my mom cooked incorporated healing ayurveda tricks. Often, we hated it, but we were so lucky.
I love to eat khichdi at least once a week for dinner to stay balanced, for lunch AND dinner after an overindulgent week. Every season, I eat kichadi for a full day or two, to help gently detox my body. I end feeling light, nourished, and that my digestion is that much stronger. In my meditations, I can feel my body thanking me.
The beauty of kichadi is to master the ratios, and then you can add any spices and seasonings that make your taste buds happy. Once you have the ratios down, you are living on a street called EASY and can make kichadi very quickly, whenever the need or urge strikes.
I list a couple of ideas down below to play with the flavors.
1 cup split moong dal (the split is important for easy digestion)
1 cup short grain rice or a mix of rice and quinoa
2 Tablespoons ghee
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon of turmeric (if you love the taste, like I do, add more)
1 — 2 inches of ginger (I love ginger) grated or chopped
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon of hing, asafoetida
1 bay leaf
2 to 3 teaspoons sea salt
More ghee for serving on top
Fresh lemon for squeezing on top
In a large bowl, add the rice and dal. Rinse the mix. I always like to rinse mine three times.
Take the time to really be present and take deep, grounding breaths.
Soak the mix for 20 minutes or as long as you have time for, I always find this quickens the cooking process.
On medium heat, warm a large pot or dutch oven, then add the ghee. As the ghee warms and melts, add the cumin seeds. As the aromas of earthiness fills your being, add the turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, and asafoetida. Continue stirring, so the spices do not burn. Add the grated ginger. Stir so everything is uniformly colored–one nameless dark color that smells like fresh earth and warm rain.
Add the rice and dal along with 4 to 6 cups of water. I like mine on the more watery porridge side, but if you want it to be more like fluffy rice, stick with 4 cups of water. Season generously with sea salt. Add the bay leaf.
Raise to medium high heat to bring the kitchari to a gentle boil, then lower to a medium low. Add the lid, but keep it a few inches open to allow some steam to escape. Continue cooking until everything is a tiny bit “overcooked” to maximize digestive ease, usually about 20 minutes. Stir a few times so nothing sticks to the bottom or sides. The kichadi will look creamy.
Taste the kichadi to test the doneness and flavors. You may need more water or salt.
Squeeze plenty of fresh lemon and sprinkle with fresh cilantro.
Say a super specific gratitude, and enjoy healing your body and spirit.
I know I grew up eating this, but this always feels like a hug and a supportive conversation.
I hope you make this often and feel the LOVE!
In Indian cooking, the spices need to “bloom”, what we call a “vagaar” in gujarti. Simply, this means heating ghee or oil, adding the ground spices together to open up. Next, this is added to the main dish.
- You can play with the proportions of spices. I generally add much more turmeric when I am trying to reduce inflammation, more ginger in the winter, but much less in the summer. Please note when using kichadi as a reset, I don’t recommend onions, garlic, or chili pepper.
- For a fun change in flavor profile, but still easy on the digestion, I have made Meditterean Kichadi. I include the fresh herbs of Italy, adding fresh parsley, basil, fresh pressed olive oil on top with plenty of juicy lemon. It’s delicious!
- You can make this without all the Indian spices, if you don’t have them. It will still help gently cleanse your digestion. It may taste bland, so make sure you are using good quality sea salt and lots of fresh squeezed lemon. Don’t let not having cumin and coriander stop you from experiencing the healing properties of kichadi.
- Hing or asafoetida is a common ingredient in traditional Indian and Ayurvedic cooking. Full warning — it’s an INTENSE smell, but fear not, the smell disappears in the cooking. It’s wonderful to help with digestion and you can use hing in all sorts of recipes that involve lentils and beans.