All the benefits of fasting, but without fasting.
What is kitchardi? Touted as an Ayurvedic superfood, kitchardi is a stew of mung bean, basmati rice, ghee (clarified butter), and digestive spices. The mung lentil’s completeness score (how complete a food is in all of the elements needed by the human body, including vitamins, minerals, starches, fats and proteins) is 80/100 (this is super rare). Ghee and rice supply the 20 missing elements like fat soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids and carbohydrates. So this means that kitchardi gives you everything your body needs without any other foods, and actually eating kitchardi is probably giving you more of the elements your regular diet is missing.
In Ayurveda, mung is recognized for its detoxifying properties, while also being rejuvenative. This is really unique because most herbs and foods that detox strip down the body tissues instead of replenishing them. Kitchardi is considered a nutritive for the digestive system, meaning it helps to restore and rehabilitate digestive tissues.
So this means I can eat kitchardi and cleanse my body (and mind) without feeling like I’m going to faint or like I’m too weak to keep up with my family and business. In fact, when I eat kitchardi, I usually feel more energized, and naturally eat a smaller quanitity of food because I feel so nourished. Mung is considered a sattvic food, meaning it promotes mental and emotional clarity and evenness.
In the digestive system specifically, mung has several amazing medicinal actions. It helps the body release accumulated toxins and toxic metabolites (detoxicant); alleviates constipation, gas, and hard, dry stool (the ghee and digestive spices help with this); resolves loose stools (rice helps here too); reduces stomach acid (ghee helps with this as well); helps to resolve inflammation and bleeding in the GI tract (as does ghee); encourages the release of accumulated ama (fermented, partially-digested food) and mucus in the intestines.
The ghee, rice, and digestive spices all have medicinal actions as well, and help to make kitchardi a complete food. White basmati is the easiest rice for the body to digest. Ghee, derived from (cow) breast milk, has the dharma (purpose of existence) to rejuvenate all mammalian tissues, is anti-inflammatory, and reduces Vata symptoms such as gas, bloating, lethargy, anxiety, and constipation. If you are vegan, you can substitute the ghee with a warming vegetable oil (like sesame or flaxseed) in winter or cooling coconut oil in summer.
Many of us avoid carbs today for fear of weight gain. In Ayurveda, we understand that the body only holds on to unnecessary weight when it’s depleted—physically, or emotionally. By replenishing our bodies, we actually turn off the switch for the body to hold on to extra resources. I have never seen anyone that gained weight on a kitchardi mono-fast, unless they were in a starvation pattern and needed it.
For those of you familiar with Ayurveda, mung is balancing for all the Vata, Pitta, and Kapha symptoms in the digestive tract. Depleted or dysfunctional digestive tissues (Vata imbalance), inflamed or infected tissues (Pitta imbalance), stagnant or accumulative processes (Kapha imbalance) all benefit from kitchardi. This is why kitchardi is safe and beneficial for anyone, any time of year. (read How To Do A Kitchardi Cleanse)
2 T. organic ghee (or oil if vegan)
1 t. each: organic ground cumin, ground coriander, ground fennel
3/4 t. organic turmeric powder or ½” piece of fresh turmeric root peeled and grated
1 t. natural sea or rock salt
1/2 c. organic SPLIT mung beans*
1/2 c. organic white basmati rice
4 c. water
Up to 2 c. chopped veggies – optional
*If you use whole mung beans, you will definitely need to soak and drain for 1-2 days, and/or add kombu seaweed to help with softening the lentil, and/or use a pressure cooker.
Step 1: Rinse your lentils and rice
First place your mung lentils and rice in a saucepan and add water. Stir around and the water will get cloudy. This is from the remaining husk of the rice and lentils. Rinse and drain and repeat 5-10 times until the water is more clear (it will not get all the way clear).
Step 2: Bring to a boil
Add the 4 cups of water to the rice and lentils and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat to a low simmer.
Step 3: Add spices and ghee
If you would like some bonus points, you can brown the spices in the ghee in a small saucepan before adding. Otherwise, just add them into the rice and lentils.
Step 4: Cook until soft
Stir occasionally and in approximately 20 minutes, the rice and lentils should be soft. If you taste and you feel anything al dente, keep cooking. The goal is to have a soft and easy to digest stew. Also, you can add as much water as you need to keep cooking or to retain a moist consistency.
You can add any vegetables to kitchardi. Add the heavier vegetables (like carrots, or potatoes) at the same time as the spices. Lighter vegetables, such as kale, or green beans, can be added in the last few minutes of cooking.