It’s spring, a time of transition and change. Rain showers wash away the heaviness of winter, rinsing the soil to nurture new growth.
Just as the earth cleanses itself in the spring, Ayurveda teaches us that we, too, can cleanse our bodies and minds. Kitchadi, a simple meal of basmati rice, digestive spices, ghee, mung beans and vegetables, is ideal (and delicious) for this purpose.
But you don’t have to go through panchakarma to enjoy kitchadi. Here at Hale Pule, we eat kitchadi every Saturday to strengthen agni, digestive fire, and promote greater mental clarity. Agni should be stoked, just like a fire, to stay strong. This highly digestible meal gives agni the rejuvenation it needs to flourish and support your health. Think of it as a restful “vacation” for your digestion.
Kitchadi is also a wonderful meal for busy professionals, parents and students. Make it in a pressure cooker in the morning and take it with you for lunch. A student recently shared a method to make kitchadi in a thermos: Just cook the spices in hot ghee, add to a thermos with white basmati rice, split mung beans and veggies. Pour boiling water over everything, quickly screw on the top and let it cook over the morning to enjoy at lunch. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
The best part about kitchadi is that the variations are endless. We’ve posted a simple recipe below, but we encourage you to get creative – mix up the vegetables to reflect what’s in season, remove vegetables for a toned-down version, add or omit spices based on your current dosha balance or swap out half the rice for another easily digested grain, such as barley. No matter how experienced a cook you are, it’s easy to make a kitchadi meal that tastes great.
As with everything, the quality of the ingredients and the energy you put into your kitchadi will affect the taste. Being a good cook has little to do with formal training – it’s about finding high-quality, organic foods and coming to the kitchen with positive energy.
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. brown mustard seeds
3 tbsp. ghee
½ cup basmati rice
¼ cup split mung beans (if split mung is not available, use whole mung and cook well)
1 strip kombu, cut into small pieces
4 cups water, more as needed
1/8 tsp. asafoetida
½ tsp. rock or mineral salt
1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger root
1 tsp. turmeric, fresh or powder
½ tsp. cardamom
3-4 cups freshly chopped veggies, such as carrots, squash, pumpkin or kale (be sure you have a balance of augmenting and extractive vegetables)
In a pot or pressure cooker, simmer kombu, asafoetida and half the salt in 1 1/2 tbsp. ghee on medium-low heat until fragrant. Add rice and split mung and stir to cover with spice mixture. Add 4 cups water. If using a pot, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes or until grain and bean are soft. If using a pressure cooker, cover, bring to pressure and cook for 22 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining ghee in a saucepan and add the remaining salt, ginger root, turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and mustard seeds. Simmer 1-2 minutes until fragrant and then add the cardamom. Add the vegetables and stir to coat. Add water and cook veggies lightly until a knife goes in easily. Add to pressure cooker, stir and let sit at least 5 minutes to allow the tastes to become friends. Serve warm or at room temperature.