An Introduction to Kitchari (aka Kichari, Kichadi)
What is kitchari?
Kitchari is a protein-rich Indian dish that combines rice and lentils, or sometimes mung beans. Beloved by Ayurvedics, it is not only a great staple for a cleanse, it's a highly restorative, calming meal when you're a little under the weather, or perhaps just recovering from a night of excess! What makes kitchari such a favorite is that it simultaneously detoxes and nourishes the body, and we love it at UMA because it's a delicious new way of going on otherwise dreadful cleanses!
Why should I be eating kitchari?
You might also be wondering, “What dosha is kitchari good for?” Kitchari is actually a catch-all dish that’s beneficial for vatas, pittas, and kaphas! It’s a food that almost everyone can benefit from, and it works to restore balance in all seasons.
Kitchari is easy to digest, so it gives the body time to rest. It cleanses the body of toxins and helps to purify digestive organs. The lentils or beans provide rich sources of protein which is essential to prevent your body from going into starvation mode and store fat - the exact opposite of what we’re trying to do! The protein in kitchari also make it a hearty meal that keeps you full, making it much easier to follow thru with the whole cleanse because you will not be battling hunger.
Can I use kitchari during a cleanse?
Yes! The kitchari cleanse is typically practiced for three days, but you can go up to five. On a kitchari cleanse, you only eat kitchari to help your digestive tract reset, and your agni (metabolic fire) rekindle. You can vary up the spice mix to keep things fresh. In fact, during the Panchakarma program which also involves oil massages, therapy, rest, and a digital detox, kitchari is the food of choice.
How do I make kitchari?
Choose white rice as a base because it is easier to digest. Then, pick your preferred legume to add a source of protein. Mung beans are preferred, but lentils will work too. Soaking the beans beforehand is recommended to make them easier to digest, but you can skip this step if you’re in a time crunch. You’ll also need ghee and spices (we like ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric and salt as the fixings!); and you can add some vegetables if you’d like but limit them to easily digestible ones such as zucchini, green beans, sweet potato, and winter squash. An instant pot is a great way to pull together a great kitchari very quickly!
Here are three of our favorite kitchari recipes: a simple one-pot recipe by Sarah Britton, the author of Naturally Nourished, Phoebe Lapine's delicious, restorative version, and another slightly more complex one by Dillon of Oh, Holy Basil if you’re feeling more fancy.