So I’ve recently been seeing an Ayurvedic doctor and one thing she has recommended for me is that I eat kichari as often as possible. OK, so what the hang is kichari, you may ask, as I did. Kichari is a spiced porridge of split yellow mung beans (dal) and basmati rice. There are as many recipes for kichari in India as there are people, or so it would seem. Regional differences vary in their consistency (some prefer a more soup-like consistency while others favor something more akin to sticky rice), spicing and predominant flavors.
Within Ayurveda, the ancient medical system of India which is still widespread today, it is often recommended that this simple dish be eaten exclusively for a time as treatment for various disease. Kicharis can be specialized by the use of different ingredients for specific body types, constitutions or disease states. It is the main food consumed during any cleansing period. In fact, a kichari fast is preferred in many Ayurvedic treatments over raw, juice or water fasts. But aside from its beneficial nutrition, it tastes really good too.
More on kichari, and a yummy recipe, after the jump.You may be surprised to see white basmati rice in this recipe, rather than whole, brown rice. The reasoning for this is that, since kichari is typically eaten when the system is in a weakened state, no extra effort should be wasted on digesting anything difficult. The white rice is easier to assimilate and much of what is lost in the removal of the rice bran is replaced by the addition of mung beans. What you have here is a delicious, easily assimilated, nutrient dense porridge with healing and calming spices. In times of good health you can replace the white basmati with brown, or with other grains like quinoa.
Check out plantherbs.com for an interesting essay which includes a little background on both kichari and Ayurveda and some info on the health benefits of some of the spices commonly used in the dish.
Now here’s the recipe:
6C water (use more if a soupier consistency is desired)
1C yellow mung dal, soaked for 1 hour, drained and rinsed
1C basmati rice, rinsed until water runs clear
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped fine
2 Tbsp. dried shredded coconut
1 handful cilantro leaves, rinsed well
2 bay leaves
Healthy pinch of unrefined sea salt
Juice of one lime
1 Tbsp. turmeric
4 cardamom pods
10 whole peppercorns
4 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon bark (stick)
1 Tbsp. ghee (clarified butter)
Blend ginger, coconut, and cilantro in a Â½ cup water in a blender.
Melt ghee in a medium-large saucepan and add turmeric, bay leaves, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, salt and cinnamon. Stir for a moment until fragrant. Add the blended mixture and stir. Cook only a few seconds until lightly browned. Add mung beans and rice, mixing well. Pour in 6 cups of hot water, cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and let boil for 5 minutes. Simmer, partially covered, for about 25 minutes or until rice and dal are soft. Add lime juice to taste.