With the arrival of the colder weather, I’ve been HUNTING for comfort food recipes to try.
There’s a time and place for baked mac and cheese – don’t get me wrong – but I need some hearty and nutritious dinners on my rotation for every day of the week. If I ate heavy dishes like that every day, even just for dinner — I know I’d feel terrible! (welcome to why people feel so much heavier and like their digestion is sluggish in the winter)
Enter Kitchari, a cleansing, comforting, ayurvedic dish made from rice, beans and vegetables.
It’s cooked down to a point where it is very easy for your body to digest.
Making digestion easy = helping your body cleanse.
The less work you are putting into digesting things, the more energy your body can focus on other important things – like cleaning up the digestive system, or growing, or keeping your skin beautiful!
I first had kitchari at my fav Philly coffee shop, and where I meet with clients — Down Dog Healing Cafe. (<–I say coffee shop, but they are really ayurvedic food and drink ninjas. I learn something new every time I go in!)
It looks and tastes like a super-broken-down soft porridge…or grits. The flavor is not very powerful – it’s actually maybe a little bland….but that’s the point. And I still really enjoyed it.
Here’s the recipe. I ever-so-slightly modified this recipe from ohholybasil.com
1 cup yellow split mung beans or lentils, washed and soaked at least 6 hours, preferably overnight (see note below)
2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee (<–clarified butter that has almost all of the casein and lactose removed from it, AKA awesome and better for digestion)
½ teaspoon mustard seed
½ teaspoon cumin seed
5 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon turmeric
pinch asafetida (<– good for digestion, but if you can’t find it you can omit it)
6 cups water
salt to taste
2-3 cups turnips, parsnips, sunchokes or other mild root vegetables, thinly sliced into half moons
½ bunch of kale or other greens, sliced very thin
1 lime, juiced
The best rice ever:
1 cup basmati rice, preferably soaked for one hour, otherwise rinsed
1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 cardamom pods
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups boiling water
For the dal:
While the dal is cooking, make the rice.
Drain and rinse the beans in a fine mesh sieve and leave them to drain of their excess water.
In a medium pot, heat the ghee or coconut oil, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick over medium heat until the mustard seeds begin to pop.
Immediately add the turmeric, asafetida and beans and cook, stirring frequently for about a minute.
Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, partially covered and cook for about 45 minutes or until the beans have broken down.
Add the root vegetables and salt and cook for 15-20 minutes more, until they are quite soft.
Add the greens and cook about five minutes more.
Turn off the heat and add the lime juice.
For the best rice ever:
Drain the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse a couple of times.
Heat the ghee or coconut oil, cumin seeds and cardamom pods over medium heat and cook for about 30 seconds.
Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently for a minute or two more, until the rice is well toasted but not yet browning.
Add the boiling water and boil the rice, uncovered for five minutes.
Reduce heat, cover and let simmer until all of the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
To serve, put some rice into a bowl and ladle the dal over top of it. Garnish with cilantro, a hearty squeeze of lime juice, the coconut, sesame seeds and melted ghee, if using.
NOTE – If you forget to soak your beans overnight, do not dismay. You can do a quick soak by pouring boiling water over them and letting them soak for just one hour.