I fell in love with kitchari the first time I tasted it at Anapurna's Vegetarian Cafe in Albuquerque. The cafe doubles as an ayurvedic cooking school and every item on the menu is assigned a dosha. Kitchari is balancing and nourishing no matter your dosha and is therefore tridoshic. Upon tasting the kitchari, I could honestly tell that this was a food that was healthful and easy to digest. You can taste the goodness. Your gut says "thank you" even as you are consuming it. Naturally, I wanted to make my own.
My first attempt at preparing this magical food was almost catastrophic. I couldn't find the split yellow mung beans the recipe calls for, so I bought whole green mung beans, but this was not close to being my biggest problem. The pot that I used was not quite big enough for all the beans, quinoa, and vegetables that I filled it with. In honesty, the pot was filled to the brim before I added the last ingredient. When I did finally add the last ingredient (hot coconut oil with spices), the pot overflowed and the hot oil spilled onto the electric stovetop and immediately combusted. The flames were tall and angry. Being that I was basically squatting in a friend's apartment when this happened, I panicked. I poured water on the fire: apparently not what you are supposed to do to an oil fire, turned off all the fire alarms, opened the doors and windows, and turned the fans on high. The fire burned out and the apartment building did not end up a pile of ashes, but the bottom of the pot of kitchari was burned and I had a serious mess to clean up. I tried to eat the kitchari anyways, but it had a faint burnt flavor and really wasn't particularly pleasant. It certainly did not provide the culinary experience I was hoping for.
When I decided to try to prepare kitchari a second time, I was understandably nervous. I figured fate might be on my side this time, however, as I had procured split yellow mung beans from an Asian food store in Northern Virginia. Having just finished a bowl of leftovers, I can tell you that my kitchen is still standing and my second attempt brought forth some delicious kitchari.
1 cup split yellow mung beans
1 cup white jasmine rice
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups chopped kale
2 table spoons coconut oil
salt & pepper
1. Pour the split yellow mung beans and jasmine rice into separate bowls and rinse repeatedly until water runs off clear.
2. Add the cleaned beans and rice to a LARGE cooking pot with six cups of purified water. Since this is meant to be a detoxifying meal, it is worthwhile to use clean water. Bring water to a boil and then lower to a simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Thoroughly wash carrots, celery, and kale before chopping into bite sized pieces. Again, as a detox food, spend extra time making sure vegetables are extra clean.
5. While the vegetables are cooking, add the coconut oil and spices to a small saucepan over high heat. Stir occasionally, and remove the pot from the heat source when the spices become slightly browned and very fragrant. It is important to let the hot oil cool for a couple minutes before adding it the large cooking pot.
6. After the vegetables have cooked for 10 minutes, stir in the coconut oil and spices. Let the kitchari cool, and then serve (season to taste with salt and pepper) and enjoy!
Kitchari is commonly used for detoxing and is often served at yoga and meditation retreats. However, it is not meant to replace all meals for a long period of time.
For more information on Ayurvedic cooking and Ayurveda, visit the website of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, NM: http://www.ayurveda.com/