Eating for nourishment and balance during autumn is essentially about keeping the body warm and grounded as temperatures cool and breezes swirl. Kitchari, an Indian porridge, is a perfect dish for this time of year and easy to prepare. The ingredient list can seem daunting if you aren't familiar with mung beans and don't keep a cupboard full of spices. But once you collect the ingredients and make this one time, it's very easy to replicate anytime you need to restore your energy and soothe the digestive system. Think of it as another culture's chicken noodle soup.
As with all of Ayurveda, you can easily get bogged down in "doing this right." Traditionally kitchari is very simple and made with ghee and specific spices. I played around with a slightly more creative version from Yoga Journal to adapt my own recipe. I hope you'll feel free to experiment too and come up with a version you love. If one of the spices doesn't appeal to you or you can't find it, skip it. If you are in need of more intense digestive healing, keep is simple and skip the vegetables.
To start, prepare your pantry ahead of time. Here's a list of spices and other ingredients you'll want to have on hand to make this dish regularly.
- Ghee (or olive oil or coconut oil)
- Basic Spices - Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Corriander, Ginger, Turmeric
- Additional (optional) spices - Curry Leaves, Mustard seeds, Cumin
- Mung beans (split or whole, yellow or green) - available in most bulk food sections
- Shredded, unsweetended coconut
- Quinoa or rice
- Whole ginger root
- Root vegetables (choose 1-2 types like carrots, sweet potato, parsnips, or squash)
- Greens (a few handfuls of spinach, kale, or chard)
1. Prepare mung beans- rinse one cup mung beans and soak for several hours or overnight. Drain, rinse and set aside.
2. The optional, but oh so tasty salsa - in a blender or with an immersion blender, liquefy one tablespoon of peeled, chopped ginger; a half cup of shredded coconut; and one bunch of chopped cilantro with one-half cup of water (add more as needed).
3. Sauté spices - In a large pot (or dutch oven), lightly brown one-half teaspoon cinnamon; one-quarter teaspoon each of ground cardamom, cloves, turmeric, salt; in three tbsp of ghee (or other olive oil).
4. Cook beans - Stir ming beans into the spice mixture in the pot. Add 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Chop root vegetables - medium size cubes and set aside.
6. Prepare grain - Rinse one cup of quinoa or rice, then add to pot along with vegetables. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stir occasionally to keep bottom from browning. Kitchari should be soup-like when you turn off heat, as it will continue to absorb liquid.
7. Final flourish - stir in the blended spice and coconut mixture.
8. Savor - spoon into bowls, add a little olive oil and salt over the top, and enjoy!