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Kitchadi: An Ayurvedic Superfood
by Vandana Pitke
Kitchadi, pronounced kich-ah-dee and sometimes spelled khichari or khichdi, has long been used to nourish babies and the elderly, the sick and the healthy during special times of detox, cleansing and deep spiritual practice. A simple, porridge-like blend of mung beans and rice, kitchadi is often referred to as the Indian comfort food. But, perhaps contrary to the Western idea of comfort food or even health food, kitchadi has many nourishing and cleansing benefits.
To be called kitchadi, the rice has to be cooked with a legume. Traditionally, that legume was split yellow mung dahl beans. These are the only legumes that are classified as “vata balancing” in Ayurveda. This means that, unlike every other type of beans or lentils, they will not produce any intestinal gas.
Khichdi is a wholesome meal that has the perfect balance of nutrients. The combination of rice, lentils and ghee provides you with carbohydrates, proteins, dietary fiber, Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Many people also add vegetables to enhance its nutritional value.
Rice, like most grains, is very low in the amino acid lysine. As a result, eating grains alone will cause a protein deficiency. Legumes and lentils, on the other hand, have lots of lysine, but they are generally low in methionine, tryptophan and cystine. Fortunately, grains are high in these three amino acids.
So the marriage of rice and beans, as found in kitchadi, has been providing the ten essential amino acids and making complete proteins for cultures around the world for thousands of years. For cultures that have subsisted on a plant-based diet, this marriage is often what allows their diet to be nutritionally sustainable.
Recipe for Kitchadi
1 cup split yellow mung dahl*
½ cup long grain white (basmati) rice
1/2 inch fresh ginger root
1 tsp of each turmeric powder, cumin powder and coriander powder
3 cloves, 4 whole pepper corns
Salt to taste
1 small handful chopped fresh cilantro leaves
4-6 cups of water (depending how soupy the consistency one prefers)
1. Wash split yellow mung beans and rice together changing the water three times.
2. In a large pot, add dahl and rice, water, ghee and all the spices and salt.
3. Boil for 10 minutes on high heat.
4. Turn heat to low, cover pot and continue to cook until dahl and rice become soft (about 20-25 minutes). Some more warm water can be added for a soupy consistency.
5. The cilantro leaves can be added just before serving.
6. Serve hot with some extra ghee and few lime juice drops.
*Split yellow mung dal beans are available at Asian or Indian grocery stores, or online as well. Different spellings include mung dahl/dal, moong daal(these all look yellow), split mung (green, as it’s not skinned).
Vandana Pitke is a certified classical homeopath. In her more than 13 years of experience, she has treated and cured many chronic and acute cases with classical homeopathy. She incorporates Ayurvedic nutrition and mudra meditation in her homeopathy practice. To learn more, visit OmHomeopathy.com.