There seems to be many spellings of kitchari (or is it khichdi, khichadi or even kitchadee?) but only one meaning which is ‘mixed’. This refers to the combination of rice and lentils which make the dish a bit like an Indian risotto. Simple and warming; I enjoyed many bowls of kitchari on the retreat. In ayurvedic medicine this dish is often given to people when they are unwell, as it is thought to balance your ‘doshas’, the three energies believed to circulate your body and govern your physiological activity. It’s also very gentle on your digestive tract, but still full of nutrition from the lentils, rice, herbs and spices. Included is a coriander and ginger sauce that works really well with the kitchari but if you have been unwell and need uncomplicated, nourishing food, it’s just as good on its own.
Servings: 2 people
- 100g of mung dal (soaked overnight and then very well rinsed a few times)
- 100g of basmati rice (soaked for at least an hour and rinsed a few times)
- pinch of asafoetida (if you have it, not essential!)
- 500ml of filtered water
- 30g of peeled, fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp of coconut oil
- ½ tsp of cumin seeds
- ½ tsp of mustard seeds
- 1 tsp of turmeric powder
- ½ tsp of coriander powder
- ½ tsp of cumin powder
- ½-1 tsp of sea salt (to taste)
- a grind or two of black pepper
- 1 medium sized courgette, cut up into small batons
For the coriander and ginger sauce
- 70g of fresh coriander
- 30g of chopped raw cashews
- 15g of peeled, fresh ginger
- 90ml of water
- the juice of one lime
- 3 tsp of maple syrup
- ½ a deseeded green chilli
- ½ tsp of sea salt
- After you have thoroughly rinsed the mung dal and rice, place them both in a heavy bottomed saucepan (with a lid). Add the filtered water and asafoetida, bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes with the lid on. Check on the saucepan a couple of times while it is cooking to stir and adding more water if necessary.
- While that is cooking, make the coriander and ginger dressing by placing all the ingredients together in a high-speed blender and processing until you have a smooth texture. If you are worried about the heat of the chilli, add it incrementally to the mixture, testing the sauce as you go along until the balance tastes right.
- Now make a tarka (the Indian way of flavouring a dish by infusing spices into oil). In a separate sauce/frying pan and at a low temperature, heat the coconut oil until it melts. Add the cumin and mustard seeds, cooking gently, until they start to make a popping sound.
- Next add the ginger and remaining spices and sauté for a few more minutes until the spices are lightly toasted and golden.
- Add the tarka to the rice and dal and cook for a further five or so minutes stirring well throughout. At this point you also add in the chopped-up courgettes, salt and a grind or two of black pepper. You might want to add in a little more filtered water at this point. You are aiming for a wet, risotto type consistency to the kitchari.
- Serve immediately either on its own, or with a tablespoon of the coriander and ginger sauce.
Don’t have mung dal? It’s not as authentic but split red lentils will also work. This recipe uses courgettes but any vegetables will do – spinach, carrots, okra, cauliflower florets or garden peas. Allergens: Nuts (cashew nuts). CNM recommends the use of organic ingredients. Credits: Recipe and photography by Ursula Lake, for the Natural Chef Diploma Courses at CNM, the College of Naturopathic Medicine.