08 August 2012

Tridoshic Kitchari: An Ayurvedic Healing Dish

Kitchari is an easy meal to prepare that gives us solid nourishment and allows the body time to devote energy to healing.  Eat kitchari anytime in order to build vitality and strength; it helps balance all three doshas. For spacey vata, the kitchari is grounding and soothing; for fiery pitta, its spices are calming; and for heavy kapha, it provides healing warmth and energy.  Ayurvedic doctors sometimes prescribe a kitchari-only diet for one week or more to enable a natural cleansing period for the body, mind, and spirit.

Ayurveda begins with the belief that all healing begins with the digestive tract, and kitchari can give it a much-needed rest from constantly processing different foods while providing essential, easily digestible nutrients.  The combination of rice and mung beans offers an array of amino acids and adequate protein.  The mixture of spices kindles the digestive fire, the agni, which is the Ayurvedic description for your innate digestive power.  The agni is dampened by poor food combinations, overdependence on processed foods, eating at irregular times, eating while standing, distracted, or while in a distressed state.   

1 cup Basmati Rice, soaked 4-6 hours
1 Cup mung beans, soaked 4-6 hours or more
1 t cumin seed
1 t fennel seed
1 t coriander seed
1 T ginger minced
1 t powered turmeric
2 T sesame oil
salt to taste
2-4 cups vegetable stock or water
2-3 cups chopped vegetables, local or organic preferred
freshly chopped herbs

Toast the seeds in the sesame oil, and add the freshly minced ginger.  Saute for 1 min and add the turmeric.  Add the rice, mung beans and the rest of the water.  Add salt, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook for 10-12 minutes.  Add the vegetables, a couple pinches of salt and cook for another 10-15 minutes.  Add water or stock depending on the consistency that you wish.  Turn off heat and stir in the freshly chopped herbs. 

** Kitchari is a very versatile recipe.  Once you get the hang of it, try other bean and rice combinations.  Keep it fresh by using different combinations of vegetables and whole toasted spices.  Generally, the healing version includes basmati rice and mung beans with the tridoshic spice blend of cumin, fennel, and coriander seed.  **

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