Kitchari has been around for centuries in India and Sri lanka; it is the ultimate comfort food and when chatting with Indian friends, they remember it as a food you would eat during monsoon season or when you feel a bit under the weather. For others, it was a staple dish that could be chucked together with whatever leftover vegetables you had in the house.
In Ayurvedic medicine it has been used for just as long as a balancing meal. The gentle spices provide all the elements that the body needs, meaning that once eaten there should be no cravings for additional food (see past blog on the 6 tastes). They also provide the perfect balance of heating and cooling qualities and they help to re-establish/re-balance the digestive fire. The wholegrain rice is easy to digest and provides the body with moisture, deeply nourishing on a cellular level, helping to ward away from vata and pitta imbalances that come about through dryness. The dal can be changed according to the season or personal imbalance. Moong dal is appropriate for people with high pitta (fire) and in the summer months as it is a very cooling pulse. The yellow dal described in this recipe is more appropriate for this time of year (Autumn/Winter) and vata/kapha imbalances due to the warming qualities.
I add coconut cream which is optional because I love the creamy texture it gives to the meal and it is also great at balancing the heating effect of the lentils and some of the spices. If you suffer from kapha imbalances then it might be better to drop this ingredient as it can be a little mucus forming. I love cooked spinach and it is so easy to throw in to something at the end of the cooking process but if you have other vegetables that you need to use up you can throw them in instead; just make sure you give them time to cook properly as there is nothing worse than raw food at this time of year. Also be wary of tomatoes and red peppers especially if you have any kind of heat imbalance as these can be particularly aggravating (see 'dry and itchy skin' blog post).
If you have any digestive problems and find a lot of spice difficult add all the spice at the start of the cooking process instead of half near the end. I have not included onions in this recipe as these can also be difficult for people with impaired digestive fires, however, if you have never had a problem digesting things (you do not suffer from diarrhea or other heat related issues) and/or you think you might have a kapha constitution, a few onions will be fine to add near the beginning.
1 cup yellow lentils
2 cup of brown rice
8 cups water
1/2 bar of creamed coconut
2 tsp coconut oil
4 tsp ginger - chopped
1 tsp garlic - chopped
3 tsp coriander
2 tsp coriander seed
3 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp clove
1tsp fennel seed
5 cardamom pods slightly crushed
2 tsp garamasala
1 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
1 tsp Turmeric
1tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp of hing (asafoetida -optional)
2 tsp Himalayan Pink Rock Salt
2 cups of washed spinach
1. Finely chop ginger and garlic.
2. Wash the rice and lentils
4. Mix all the spices together in a small dish
5. Heat half the oil in a large pan then add half the spice mix.
6. Mix in half the ginger and garlic and all the rice and lentils, stir for a few mins and add the water and coconut cream bar and cook until soft (around 45 mins-keep checking and add more liquid is necessary).
7. Heat the rest of the coconut oil in a separate pan and add the other half of the spice mix, ginger and garlic and stir for a few mins until you can smell the mixture.
7. Stir this in to the rice and lentils with the spinach and wait a few mins until your serve.
8. Serve with coconut yoghurt and chutney.