Kitchari is pretty much a staple within Ayurveda, and there are many, many varieties out there. The basics of all kitchari is that it is rice and beans, with various spices. Kitchari is meant to be easy to digest, cleansing and strengthening without robbing the system of energy like a normal detox often does, and hence can be done a regular basis.
Kitcharis in Ayurveda are often done about every 2 months during the seasonal changes, normally starting 7 days before to cleanse the excess of the past season and continuing for 7 days after to cleanse and reduce what is to be built for the coming season.
Now, you could eat kitchari for the full cycle, though often people find this very tough to do when starting out. For those people, I would suggest starting with eating the kitchari for 2 of their meals for the first 3 days of the change, then again for 2 meals for another 3 days starting on the 15th. Keep in mind that during these seasonal transitions, our physical strength is weaker than normal, and there is a higher chance of getting sick and feeling off balance due to the disruption that is naturally occurring during the switch in the nature around us. Additionally, this is a very important time to do your Abhyanga (self-oil massage), even if you don’t normally do it – or if you don’t like to do it, as this helps with the movement of the lymph system in the body, while also providing nourishment through the skin.
Preferably, soak the mung dahl and rice overnight (or for at least three hours, though if you’re unable to, that’s not a deal breaker on this dish). When you put these in to soak, you can also hold the palms of your hands towards the soak, and think about projecting love and health into the water and grains. After the soaking time, strain the soaking water, and rinse the mixture at least twice, or until the water runs clear, and set aside.
Now, in a large pan or soup pot (this will make about 6+ cups of kitchari), warm the ghee over medium heat. Add the black mustard seeds and saute until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Turn to low heat and add the turmeric, black pepper, coriander, fennel, cumin, asafoetida, and fresh ginger. Note: While adding things into the pot and while stirring, think about making this food with love, nourishment and health – put a smile on your face and allow joy to pour from your soul. Stir briefly until the aromas come out. Stir the rice and dahl mixture into the spices, coating all the kernels of rice and dahl and allow to saute just slightly.
Add the 6 cups of water and increase the heat to high until it begins to boil and stir in the salt, then reduce heat to low and add the optional vegetables. Continue to cook on low for about 30 to 45 minutes (check after about 20 minutes, and each 10 minutes after – you may need to add more water. The consistency should be that of a thick stew instead of a soup. Remove from heat, and serve. Garnish with fresh cilantro or your favorite chutney.
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