Whether you spell it kitchari, kitcharee, kichadi, or kitchadee, this one-pot ayurvedic classic is easy on the system and good for your health. Kitchari benefits your body in so many ways. Let’s take a closer look at why this simple porridge has withstood the test of time, making it a cornerstone in the ayurvedic diet.
Easy on the Gut
One of the main kitchari benefits is that it’s easy on the system. Since kitchari is so easy to digest, it allows the body to focus on deeper rejuvenation and detoxification. This is why a kitchari mono-diet is the go-to for ayurvedic cleansing. As an ayurvedic practitioner, I have witnessed clients with chronic digestive issues experience amazing resolution of their digestive imbalances by going on a kitchari mono-diet for a few days.
Kitchari is essentially a porridge composed of rice, mung dal, spices, and usually ghee and vegetables. The spices and veggies can be tailored to fit the constitution of the person partaking. (For a basic kitchari recipe, check out our post Kitchari Recipe.) Spices are profoundly nutrient dense and beneficial to digestion, and by carefully selecting your spices, you can also help balance your dosha.
This simple dish is so easy to digest because the rice and mung dal are cooked together until soft. In fact, kitchari means “mixture” (1) and this humble porridge is indeed a melding and mixing of simple, soothing ingredients. Kitchari is balancing for all three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Among kitchari’s benefits are that it is nourishing and detoxifying at the same time, making it the staple food for anyone undergoing pancha karma. Furthermore, kitchari forms a complete protein and split yellow mung dal is much easier to digest than most beans and legumes. In addition, mung dal is gently astringent, which makes it cleansing but not harsh or depleting (3).
Kitchari to Suit Your Needs
While rice and mung dal form the base of kitchari, the recipe variations are truly infinite. Spice and vegetables choices can be altered to fit the season and the dosha. Here are a few examples of how you can tailor a basic kitchari recipe to reap the maximum benefits (2):
Vata: Cook the kitchari well so that it becomes soupy. Spice and garnish with ample amounts of freshly ground black pepper and ghee.
Pitta: Minimize heating spices such as ginger and black pepper. Instead, season with ample amounts of coriander and garnish with fresh cilantro to your heart’s desire.
Kapha: Cook until rice and mung dal are soft, but retain some texture. Use ample amounts of warming spices, such as ginger and black pepper. Ghee and salt should be used sparingly.
A Food for All Doshas
Kitchari is truly the food for all seasons and all doshas. You can eat kitchari a few times per week as part of your regular diet or try a kitchari mono-diet for a day or two for a deep-cleansing reset. For an especially nourishing effect, try a spoonful of Chyawanprash 15-30 minutes before eating kitchari.
Greta Kent-Stoll is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (NAMA), as well as a writer, editor, and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher. Her Ayurveda practice is based in Asheville, North Carolina and she is the co-owner of Iyengar Yoga Asheville.
(1) The Ayurvedic Institute. Kitchari. Retrieved from https://www.ayurveda.com/recipes/kitchari
(2) Morningstar, A. (1995). Ayurvedic cooking for westerners. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.
(3) Nowland, A. (2019). What is kitchari and why 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/