Kitchari, a traditional ayurvedic recipe, is a nourishing porridge made from mung beans, rice, vegetables, and healing spices. This gut-supportive kitchari recipe is loaded with flavor, a great source of fiber, and one of my all-time favorite savory breakfast recipes.
I've made a million versions of this traditional healing recipe for years. It is, for me, a feel-good food loaded with nutrients. It is easy on digestion, and truly comforting. Best of all, it is a one-pot dish that is ideal for meal prep!
If kitchari is totally unfamiliar to you read on to learn all about the healing benefits of kitchari and why I love incorporating Ayurvedic principles into my diet.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE:
NOTE: I think of kitchari as a cooking “method” rather than a hard and fast recipe that must be followed to a T. You can easily play around with spices, vegetables, and even swap out the type of legume and grain that is used. Follow my recipe as a guidepost for the first time you are trying kitchari, but I highly recommend being flexible in your approach. This should be a back pocket recipe using ingredients you have on hand.
Detailed measurements and ingredients can be found within the recipe card at the end of this post.
- Dried Mung Beans – Traditionally moong daal, or split mung beans (also called yellow mung beans), I prefer sprouted mung beans, you can also use red lentils
- Basmati Rice – I prefer brown basmati rice, but white basmati is traditional
- Vegetables – In this recipe, I used cauliflower, carrots, and zucchini
- Shallot, garlic, ginger
- Dried spices – See below for the combo of spices
- Ghee – or coconut oil
TOOLS YOU WILL USE:
BASIC KITCHARI FORMULA:
Below is the basic kitchari formula that I follow for a creamy savory spiced healing porridge:
- 1 cup dried moong dal (split mung beans or yellow moong beans) – I prefer to use sprouted mung beans or whole mung beans that have been sprouted – NOTE: this is not traditional, but I prefer the nutty flavor and dense nutrient profile of sprouted mung beans. They are easier to digest than regular whole green mung beans and full of Vitamin C, Iron, and Potassium.
- 1/2 cup basmati rice – White or brown basmati rice works. White rice is a better fit if you have trouble digesting brown rice.
- 3 cups vegetables – You can mix up the type of vegetables you use based on what you have on hand – I like cauliflower, carrots, and zucchini
- 4 cups water
- Ginger, garlic, onion + dried spices
How to cook kitchari:
- Toast spices in ghee
- Add all other ingredients, simmer for an hour until ingredients are tender and (dare I say) mushy?, trust me when I tell you this is the texture you are looking for, porridge. Comforting, warming porridge.
- Top with yogurt, lime juice, cilantro, and flaky sea salt
SOAKING THE RICE AND LEGUMES:
I prefer to soak my legumes and grains for 12-24 hours. Soaking grains and legumes will neutralize the phytic acid and release enzyme inhibitors. This makes grains easier to digest and the available nutrients in the grains and legumes easier to assimilate.
WHAT IS KITCHARI?
Kitchari — which literally means “mixture” in Hindi — is a traditional Ayurvedic dish that has a porridge-like texture and is typically made with mung dal and basmati rice, and simmered in a myriad of fragrant, anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, cumin seeds, ginger, and black pepper. You can also make variations of this versatile dish by adding an assortment of veggies of your choice.
A beloved staple in Ayurvedic cooking (more on Ayurveda later), kitchari is comforting, nourishing, cleansing, and balancing for all constitution types (doshas). This powerhouse of a dish that has been used for healing for thousands of years, also supports healthy detox, digestion, and immunity.
WHAT SPICES SHOULD YOU USE IN KITCHARI?
This dish originates in India and uses a unique blend of Indian spices. Spices that are healing, anti-inflammatory, and gut-supportive.
You can honestly use any variation of spices that you love, I tend to lean into using whole seeds and spices for my kitchari, here is my favorite kitchari spice blend:
- Fennel seeds
- Whole coriander seeds
- Cumin seeds
- Fenugreek seeds
- Ground turmeric
- Ground cumin
- Black pepper
Other spices that would work: asafoetida (which is traditionally used in place of onion and garlic and a great option for a low-fodmap version of kitchari), mustard seeds, ground ginger, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, clove.
WHAT IS THE KITCHARI CLEANSE?
A few years ago a client sat down in my office and declared she was on the kitchari cleanse. Kitchari? The porridge? Kitchari cleanse? I'm so confused, I confessed.
I then learned that a kitchari cleanse is often part of a more comprehensive cleanse called panchakarma, which is an ancient Ayurvedic regimen for detoxing and rejuvenating body, mind, and spirit. How this traveled to NYC and was whittled down to eating only kitchari is beyond me.
ALSO…WHAT THE HECK IS AYURVEDA?
Great question! Ayurveda is considered by many scholars to be the oldest and most enduring natural healing system in the world! Ayurveda, which means “The Science of Life” in Sanskrit, originated in India at least 5,000 years ago and continues to influence and inform modern-day health and wellness practices. We even see scientific advancements in modern medicine that are in line with Ayurvedic teachings from thousands of years ago. Very impressive if you ask me!
Ayurveda provides us with a roadmap to optimal health — but what does true health mean and look like according to Ayurveda? Let's dive into some of Ayurveda's main principles so that we can really understanding the crux of this ancient health care system that has so much longevity and offers us so much wisdom…
- Unlike Western allopathic medicine which tends to focus on symptomology and band-aid “fixes,” Ayurveda places great emphasis on preventative healthcare and seeks to address and treat the root cause(s) of a disease, and supports the body's innate healing potential. In this way, Ayurveda is similar to modern-day Functional Medicine.
- Ayurveda is a whole-system medicine, so it addresses the entire system rather than just one mere part of the whole. Similarly, it offers a mind-body-spirit approach to health and wellbeing, providing the tools we need to find balance and thrive in all aspects of our life—physical, emotional, and spiritual. These tools include diet, herbs, cleansing and detoxification, movement (like yoga), meditation, and various self-care techniques like massage (abhyanga).
- Ayurveda stresses the importance of living in alignment with nature and all its cycles and rhythms. In fact, according to Ayurveda, we are not separate from nature. We are nature. And therefore have the intelligence and immutable law of nature within us. This is what gives us our unique constitution, which is the basis for Ayurveda's personalized treatment plans.
- According to Ayurvedic teachings, everyone is made of a combination of five elements of the natural world: earth, water, fire air, and space. These elements combine in the body into three vital energies or doshas: vata, kapha, and pitta. Each of us has all three energies are within us, but we tend to have one that is dominant, which gives rise to your constitution type and is believed to account for a person's unique, bio-individual makeup, and the likelihood of developing certain ailments and illnesses. Helpful tip: There are many quizzes out there you can take to learn your dosha type.
- Vata (air and ether) controls movement and represents lightness and flexibility. It is responsible for basic body processes such as breathing, cell division, and circulation. People with vata as their primary dosha are believed to be quick-thinking, thin, and fast, and be susceptible to anxiety, tension, dry skin, and constipation. In nature, vata season lasts from fall to the middle of winter.
- Kapha (water and earth) controls stable, homeostatic energy, with qualities including heaviness, denseness, slowness, and steadiness. Kapha is believed to be responsible for strength, immunity, protection, and growth. People with kapha as their main dosha tend to be calm, have a solid body frame, and be susceptible to obesity, idleness sinus congestion, and gallbladder problems. Kapha season lasts from late winter to early spring.
- Pitta (fire and water) controls the energy of transformation. It governs metabolism, body temperature, and digestion. People with pitta as their primary dosha usually have a fiery personality, oily skin, and are susceptible to stomach ulcers, inflammation, heartburn, heart disease, and arthritis. Pitta season is the summer, between late spring and early fall.
- Sometimes the doshas can get imbalanced or aggravated, which can disrupt the flow of energy and can manifest physically in the body. The doshas get aggravated by similar properties (“like increases like”) and they get decreased by opposite properties. For example, during pitta season (summer) there is already a lot of pitta qualities, like heat, in nature. It is therefore not recommended to eat foods that have pitta energies in them, like hot, spicy foods. This will aggravate pitta, especially if you are a pitta type. Instead, you should opt for pitta-pacifying foods that are sweet, light, and cooling — fruits such as melons, cherries, peaches, and veggies such as leafy greens and cucumbers. Basically, just eat what's in season! Thanks, Mother Nature and Ayurveda!
DIETARY MODIFICATIONS FOR THIS RECIPE:
This recipe is naturally gluten-free and vegetarian
- Vegan – Use coconut oil rather than ghee
- Low Fodmap – Eliminate shallot and garlic, and use Chana Dal for a low fodmap friendly version of Kitchari
MORE LEGUME RECIPES YOU WILL LOVE:
I can’t wait for you to try this Nourishing Kitchari Recipe. When you make it, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram @abrapappa or use the hashtag #abraskitchen so I can feature your photo!
If you’ve tried this recipe, don’t forget to rate and leave a comment below. I love to hear from people who’ve made my recipes!
Nourishing Ayurvedic Kitchari Recipe
- 1 cup sprouted mung beans
- 1/2 cup brown basmati rice
- 2 tbsp ghee or coconut oil or olive oil
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp whole coriander seeds
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 large shallot chopped
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger chopped
- 3 cups mixed vegetables I used cauliflower, carrot, and zucchini
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp sea salt plus more for garnish
- cilantro, lime juice, and whole fat plain yogurt for serving
- OPTIONAL: Soak mung beans and rice in a large bowl of water overnight or for 8-12 hours. Drain and set aside.
- In a large pot over medium heat, add ghee (or coconut oil), once warm add all spices. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the spices become fragrant. They will begin to smell nutty and toasted.
- Add ginger, shallot, and garlic. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add rice and lentils and toss to coat with all spices. Add vegetables and water. Stir well.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 60-75 minutes or until the mixture is thick and porridge like. The rice and mung beans should be cooked fully and tender.
- Season with salt and black pepper.
- Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice. I also like sprinkling additional turmeric and flaky sea salt on top.
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