With the arrival of the colder weather, I've been HUNTING for comfort food recipes to try.
There's a time and place for baked mac and cheese - don't get me wrong - but I need some hearty and nutritious dinners on my rotation for every day of the week. If I ate heavy dishes like that every day, even just for dinner -- I know I'd feel terrible! (welcome to why people feel so much heavier and like their digestion is sluggish in the winter)
Enter Kitchari, a cleansing, comforting, ayurvedic dish made from rice, beans and vegetables.
It's cooked down to a point where it is very easy for your body to digest.
Making digestion easy = helping your body cleanse.
The less work you are putting into digesting things, the more energy your body can focus on other important things - like cleaning up the digestive system, or growing, or keeping your skin beautiful!
I first had kitchari at my fav Philly coffee shop, and where I meet with clients -- Down Dog Healing Cafe. (<--I say coffee shop, but they are really ayurvedic food and drink ninjas. I learn something new every time I go in!)
It looks and tastes like a super-broken-down soft porridge...or grits. The flavor is not very powerful - it's actually maybe a little bland....but that's the point. And I still really enjoyed it.
Here's the recipe. I ever-so-slightly modified this recipe from ohholybasil.com
- 1 cup yellow split mung beans or lentils, washed and soaked at least 6 hours, preferably overnight (see note below)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee (<--clarified butter that has almost all of the casein and lactose removed from it, AKA awesome and better for digestion)
- ½ teaspoon mustard seed
- ½ teaspoon cumin seed
- 5 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- pinch asafetida (<-- good for digestion, but if you can't find it you can omit it)
- 6 cups water
- salt to taste
- 2-3 cups turnips, parsnips, sunchokes or other mild root vegetables, thinly sliced into half moons
- ½ bunch of kale or other greens, sliced very thin
- 1 lime, juiced
The best rice ever:
- 1 cup basmati rice, preferably soaked for one hour, otherwise rinsed
- 1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 4 cardamom pods
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups boiling water
- cilantro leaves
- shredded coconut
- sesame seeds
- melted ghee
For the dal:
- While the dal is cooking, make the rice.
- Drain and rinse the beans in a fine mesh sieve and leave them to drain of their excess water.
- In a medium pot, heat the ghee or coconut oil, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick over medium heat until the mustard seeds begin to pop.
- Immediately add the turmeric, asafetida and beans and cook, stirring frequently for about a minute.
- Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, partially covered and cook for about 45 minutes or until the beans have broken down.
- Add the root vegetables and salt and cook for 15-20 minutes more, until they are quite soft.
- Add the greens and cook about five minutes more.
- Turn off the heat and add the lime juice.
For the best rice ever:
- Drain the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse a couple of times.
- Heat the ghee or coconut oil, cumin seeds and cardamom pods over medium heat and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently for a minute or two more, until the rice is well toasted but not yet browning.
- Add the boiling water and boil the rice, uncovered for five minutes.
- Reduce heat, cover and let simmer until all of the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
To serve, put some rice into a bowl and ladle the dal over top of it. Garnish with cilantro, a hearty squeeze of lime juice, the coconut, sesame seeds and melted ghee, if using.
NOTE - If you forget to soak your beans overnight, do not dismay. You can do a quick soak by pouring boiling water over them and letting them soak for just one hour.