In case you don’t know, I’m a maintenance planner. So it’s only logical that the same way we plan preventative maintenance on the machinery in the process plant, I plan regular maintenance for my body. This fall, that’s in the form of an Ayurvedic cleanse and rejuvenation. During the cleansing period, you can eat anything you want. As long as it’s kitchari (or kitchadi).
Kitchari is a simple-to-digest one-pot meal consisting of basmati rice, split mung and vegetables. It’s very lightly spiced and minimally salted as compared to most Indian food, and the consistency depends on the water content – varying from a risotto to a soupy porridge. Which you make tends to depend on where you’re at in the cleansing, and how your body is processing the food. As a result, in the recipe, you’ll find a range when it comes to the quantities. Experiment and figure out what you like.
To speed up the prep time, since it should be made fresh every morning, the vegetables are usually cut the night. Furthermore, rather than taking out half a dozen spice jars daily, I’ve pre-ground a suitable blend into a “Cleanse Curry Powder”. It’s a nice curry powder for those that aren’t usually into curry, since it regroups milder spices and has more sweet notes than most powders on the market. It is a “raw” powder, which means that it should be fried in hot oil for a few minutes to release the flavours and aromas. If you want to add it as a finishing spice, then take the time to pre-toast everything prior to grinding.
Yield: 8-12 cups, depending on the water content and volume of veggies
What you need for the cleanse curry powder (will make enough for 4 to 5 batches of kitchari):
- 2 tablespoons coriander seed
- 1 tablespoon cumin seed
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seed
- 2-3″ cinnamon stick, broken into pieces (true cinnamon, not cassia)
- 10 whole green cardamom pods
What you need for the kitchari:
- 1/4 cup to 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup split mung (half the amount of rice)
- 2 teaspoons coconut or sunflower oil (traditionally, ghee is called for and should you be vegetarian rather than vegan then feel free to use it)
- 2 teaspoons cleanse curry powder
- 7 fresh curry leaves, lightly crushed (optional)
- 4 cups to 6 cups water
- 2 cups to 12 cups mixed vegetables (no nightshades, so potatoes, tomatoes and peppers of any kind are out)
- 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon salt
What you do for the curry powder:
- Put all the ingredients in a small coffee grinder (reserved for spices), nut and spice grinder or blender and process until powdered. Store in a small air-tight container in a dark and cool place.
What you do for the kitchari:
- Wash the mung beans and rice and then soak overnight or several hours in water to cover by 3-4″. Drain and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the curry powder and stir and fry for 2-3 minutes, until lightly toasted and fragrant.
- Add the curry leaves if using (careful, they splutter), and then the drained rice and beans. Stir to coat in the spices and cook, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes more.
- Add the water, salt and vegetables and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the rice is well cooked.