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What is Kitchari?

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

Kitchari is a traditional Ayurvedic dish that's known for its ability to detox the body and balance all three doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. For those that want to cleanse the body in a gentle manner, kitchari provides ample nutrients while pushing the junk out of your body.

This delicious mainstay of Indian cuisine consists of split yellow mung beans called dahl, and white basmati rice cooked together with ghee (clarified butter) and mild spices. In fact, kitchari may well be the most perfect therapeutic recipe of all because it detoxifies the entire system, while kindling the body’s digestive fires called ‘agni.’ Unlike other fasts or restricted diets, following an exclusive diet of kitchari with the addition of some steamed seasonal vegetables and fresh fruits and perhaps a few tablespoons of yogurt mid-day, supplies all the bodies’ nutritional needs and will cause no nutritional deficiencies.

In areas of the world where food is scarce, it would be unthinkable to treat diseases caused by inadequate nutrition with raw foods, liquid fasts of vegetable and fruit juice as these would not supply the adequate amount of protein and complex carbohydrates and would only cause more degenerative wasting. However, kitchari would be ideal for such individuals, being an easily assimilated porridge of rice and beans.

In the West, where food is abundant and excess is more likely to be the underlying cause of disease, raw foods and juice fasting may be more appropriate as an initial fast to eliminate and detoxify excess waste clogging the circulatory vessels and organs of the body, however as a long-term diet it creates deficiency weakness which kitchari would not. Kitchari achieves the same eliminating and detoxifying goals in a smoother, more balanced way, allowing one to continue their normal daily routine and without any of the accompanying bouts of low blood sugar. Thus kichari diet is safer and provides a more balanced, gradual approach to detoxification while maintaining adequate amounts of required complex carbohydrates and protein in the diet without causing nutritional deficiencies.

A cafe near my old stomping grounds would make kitchari every couple weeks and I would eat it every day it was available. Not only was it delicious, comforting and satisfying, but I always felt balanced and energized after having it. Nowadays, I make kitchari whenever my digestion just feels like it's struggling to digest most meals, or if I just feel off and want healthy, comforting foods.

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