I’ve always been sort of intrigued by the concepts of Ayurveda. Loosely speaking, in my own words, it is the idea that a healthy body is one that is in balance. One part of ensuring that balance or restoring that balance if/when it is lost, is through feeding it the proper food. That just sounds…right.
It is easy to get into ruts and mindlessly feed myself without paying much attention to how that food makes me feel. I do stuff like keep eating all the cheese because it just tastes so darn gooooood! But when I stop to think about it, cheese (in large, soul satisfying quantities) doesn’t really make me feel very good. Dang it!
So anyway, back to kitchari (kit-chur-ee): I was reading up on this Ayurveda concept and one of the main dishes is called kitchari which is a stew that comes in different varieties. At its heart, it is a combination of grains and legumes (often mung beans and basmati rice) cooked in broth or water with tons of lovely spices. It’s supposed to be easy to digest, cleansing and rebalancing. Sounded good, so I made it. And then I made some more. And then I introduced it to my husband and now we are eating it almost every day. It is nourishing satisfaction in a big warm bowl. I don’t mean to get all mystical on you, but it really does make me feel good when I eat it! And the house smells amazing.
I’ve made a bunch of different varieties, it lends itself very well to improv, probably another reason why I love it so much! Here’s the description of my basic method: I use my Crock-Pot for this, but an ordinary pot would work. I don’t know about those new-fangled Insta-Pots, I don’t have one, but it is probably possible in that thing too. Put in a handful of split mung beans (I know these sound kinda gross, but they are delicious little devils that look like lentils and come in different colors) and a handful of basamati rice (I use brown because that’s what I have in my larder). Next comes all of the delicious spices. You need to cook them a bit in oil or ghee til aromatic. Most of the time I use some combination of cumin, cardamom, cayenne (careful!), black pepper and chopped garlic. I’ve also tried cinnamon, allspice, dill and fennel – all of them work and experimenting with new combinations is fun. You can warm the spices in the oil in a pan or I actually do it in a glass measuring cup in my microwave. You just have to be careful not to burn them. Then add these to the beans and rice and cover with a couple of inches of broth. Cook until everything is soft and thick soupy. You can thin it out with more broth or water along the way if it is too thick. Near the end of the cooking process I add chopped fresh ginger and a squeeze of lemon. I serve mine with hot sauce and chopped red onion. Fresh cilantro might be nice too.