I was talking to a friend who said she felt like it makes no sense to start cleanses and resets in the dead of winter. (We’re talking to you, New Year’s resolutions!) I get what she meant: when it’s cold and frosty out, the last thing I want to eat is a salad or plate of veggies. With everyone kicking off 2018 healthy eating goals, I think it’s all about finding that balance between cozying up to something hearty but still eating mindfully. Enter: kitchari.
If you haven’t heard of kitchari, think of something similar to a savory rice and lentil oatmeal. Practices like Ayurveda look to kitchari as Indian comfort food, but unlike a lot of “comfort food” in western cultures, kitchari is known for it’s nourishing and cleansing benefits. For me, this is the dish my mom would make for us any time my brother and I came down with a cold or were just feeling under the weather. You could even say that I consider this the Indian version of chicken noodle soup!
Kitchari is fairly simple to make and is one of those dishes that can be adjusted based on your preferences along with what ingredients you have on hand. While my mom has always made it plain with just the lentils and rice, I recently made a super thick version that I topped with jammy eggs and greens for breakfast, and I make this drier version with tons of veggies for dinner.
The main reason that Ayurveda looks to kitchari as a great cleansing dish is because of the spices and ingredients that make this dish light and very easy for our digestive systems to work with. Both the white rice and split moong beans are easier to digest than brown rice and other beans and lentils that have a natural husk on them, and the spices like hing (asafoetida) and cumin seeds have properties that make them great natural digestive and immune system aids. (No wonder this is why my mom would give us HUGE bowls of this whenever we weren’t feeling our best!)
While I will forever turn to the classic and plain version of this dish topped with yogurt for something quick and cozy, loading this recipe up with veggies is an easy way to add something delicious and healthy for a weekly meal plan.
This is also a super easy dish to use extra leftover or frozen veggies in. With this version I tossed in some extra carrots and broccoli that I had in the fridge, frozen peas and greens, and an extra potato I had lying around. It would be great to adjust the veggies based on what’s in season as well!
So if you’re still dealing with this crazy cold winter and need something hearty and delicious, whip up a big pot of kitchari – you won’t regret it!