Recently, I’ve noticed that the hot bar regularly features a pot of kitchari. This was exciting to me, as this is one of the very first traditional dishes I learned about when I began cooking at home. I was forced (thankfully) to stop eating out so much at the urging of my amazing doctor at the time. She is an Ayurvedic physician and an MD.
It’s so neat when something a bit obscure that you’ve enjoyed for a long time starts to mainstream!
Kitchari is a nutritious, tasty and very digestible dish from India.
Indian mothers frequently make for their children when they are feeling under the weather. The soothing nature of this healing and nourishing porridge makes it perfect for a light supper, A brief kitchari fast rests digestion and is a wonderful dish to take to convalescents and mothers who have recently given birth. Another helpful dish for the sick is potassium broth.
Vata Churna Spices Used in Kitchari
The spices are what really make kitchari so special. The spice blend is called Vata Churna which represents all six tastes – sweet, salty, sour, bitter, astringent, and pungent – in a single dish. This is what accounts for the balanced satisfaction a meal of kitchari bestows upon the tastebuds and the digestion with nothing more required. Salted lassi is another common food in the Ayurvedic tradition that uses similar warmth inducing herbs.
Quality Vata Churna is Key to Tasty Kitchari
High quality Vata Churna can be purchased already blended here. You can also easily make it yourself.
To make a batch of Vata Churna that will make several small pots of kitchari, follow these instructions:
- Lightly roast 2 tablespoons each of cumin and coriander seeds in a dry skillet until you smell the nutty fragrance. This only takes a minute or two.
- Remove from heat and cool.
- Process 1/2 teaspoon of whole cardamom seeds with the roasted cumin and coriander in a spice grinder until a fine powder.
- Mix in 1 teaspoon of ground licorice, 1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder, 1/4 teaspoon of hing powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of finely ground sea salt.
Note: The hing powder is a very important spice although it’s not something typically found in the spice drawer of a Western home. Be sure to include as it helps digest the mung beans in the kitchari.
Once you have the Vata Churna spice blend ready either by purchase or making it yourself, you are ready to make a pot of kitchari.
Kitchari Ayurvedic Porridge
The recipe for kitchari can be enjoyed any time of year. Winter is particularly helpful as the herbs are warming on a cold night. Those with a fever or who are recovering from illness particularly benefit.
Homemade Kitchari Porridge
Easy recipe for kitchari that is excellent warming dish for cold winter nights and for those recovering from childbirth, illness, or surgery.
In a large saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of filtered water to a boil.
Add the sprouted mung beans, salt, and Vata Churna spices. Bring back to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a very low simmer.
After cooking for one hour, add the rice, 2 tablespoons of ghee, and the remaining 1 1/4 cups water. Bring mixture to a boil again. Stir, and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
Stir as often as necessary to avoid sticking. Add more water as necessary if the kitchari becomes too thick noting that the proper consistency is of thick gravy.
When the kitchari is finished cooking, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of ghee in a small pan with the mustard seeds and cumin. When the mustard seeds pop, stir the mixture into the kitchari and serve.
Refrigerate unused portions and reheat on the stovetop to serve (don't microwave).
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sources and More Information
The Healthy Home Economist has been a Nutrition Educator since 2002. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Nutrition nonprofit the Weston A. Price Foundation since 2011.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.