Meaning “mixture,” kitchari is a simple dish that is typically made of mung beans and rice. Though simple to prepare, kitchari is healthful and versatile. It is a staple of ayurvedic cleansing and you would be hard-pressed to find an ayurvedic clinic or spa that does not have kitchari on the menu.
We’ll take a look at some different ways to prepare kitchari, but first the basics.
First, the Basics
As mentioned earlier, kitchari is typically a simple mixture—a porridge—made of basmati rice and split yellow mung beans. There are some variations on this, but these two ingredients are easily digested and they form a complete protein.
Although you can substitute aduki beans, other types of dal, or even lentils for split yellow mung beans, split yellow mung beans (called mung dal) are tridoshic and easier to digest than most other legumes—even for Vata types who tend to have variable, sensitive digestion.
In addition to mung dal and basmati rice, kitchari is often made with ghee, spices, and vegetables. Ghee provides moisture and lubrication, and is especially balancing for Vata dosha. Vata types can even top their kitchari with an additional spoonful of ghee. Pitta types should use a moderate amount of ghee or ghruta, and Kapha types the least. Furthermore, spices and vegetables may be added based upon one’s constitution.
For general instructions on making kitchari, read our post: Kitchari Recipe. Now let’s take a look at ways to tailor your kitchari recipe. This is a list of ideas and possible ingredients. For instance, with the warming kitchari, you do not need to include every spice and vegetable listed. Rather, this is selection to choose from. Pick anywhere from 3-6 spices to include, and 1-3 vegetables. Simplicity makes for easier digestion.
Warming kitchari is great for balancing Kapha.
- asafoetida/ hing
- mustard seeds
- black pepper
- cooked onion
- mustard greens
- string beans
Cooling kitchari is often good for Pitta types.
- small amount cumin
- burdock root
- 1 stick kombu seaweed
- garnish with fresh cilantro
- green cabbage
- green beans
- leafy greens
Sweet kitchari is especially suited for Vata dosha, but can also be nice for children or anyone who prefers their kitchari to have a mildly sweet taste.
- bay leaf
- a pinch of saffron as topping
- sweet potatoes
There are truly infinite variations on this simple, nourishing dish. Hopefully, these ideas will serve as a template for your own culinary explorations. Also, kitchari can make a great breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For a balanced start to the day, eat at a spoonful of nourishing Chyawanprash before enjoying a bowl of kitchari as a breakfast meal. When making kitchari, typically, it is best to start simply with a small number of ingredients. Then let your taste buds and inner ayurvedic knowledge be your guide!
(1) Nowland, A. (2019). What is kitchari & why we eat it for cleansing. Banyan Botanicals. Retrieved from https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/blog-the-banyan-insight/details/what-is-kitchari-why-we-eat-it-for-cleansing/
(2) Morningstar, A. & Desai, U. (1994). The Ayurvedic cookbook. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.
Greta Kent-Stoll is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (NAMA), as well as a writer, editor, and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher (CIYT). Her Ayurveda practice is based in Asheville, North Carolina and she is the co-owner of Iyengar Yoga Asheville.