Kitchari (also called khichdi or khichri) is a one-pot dish usually made with split mung beans, rice, and spices. Kitchari benefits are meant to come in the form of a nourishing meal that is easy for the body to digest. Specific foods tend to be easier to digest than others while the body needs various nutrients, including fiber, protein, and fats, some foods containing these can contribute to stomach issues. Kitchari benefits come from a traditional Ayurvedic recipe that’s known for its ability to detox the body and balance all three doshas: Kapha, Vata, and Pitta.
Kitchari is a combination of split mung beans and white basmati rice with plenty of spices. It is considered beneficial for spiritual growth, intestinal repair, and rejuvenation. It’s comforting, easy, affordable and above all, nourishing. According to Ayurveda, the holistic healing system developed in India over 5,000 years ago, Kitchari is a cleansing and detoxifying food. The philosophies of Ayurvedic medicine teach us that when the mind, body, and spirit are properly aligned, balance comes into our life and restores health to our bodily systems. Kitchari benefits are believed to naturally help remove toxins. It is also great for all types of doshas, especially pitta and vata.
5 Proven Kitchari Benefits
1. Improves Digestion
Kitchari benefits greatly improve your digestive system. Everyone experiences occasional digestive symptoms such as upset stomach, gas, heartburn, nausea, constipation or diarrhea. Issues with digestion such as constipation, bloating, or diarrhea is a symptom that something is out of balance. Eating kitchari helps reset digestion and nourish body and mind.
2. Detoxing Properties
Kitchari benefits are excellent for detoxification and de-aging of the cells. It includes warming spices, detoxifying spices, anti-inflammatory spices that are beneficial for your body and helps in removing toxins. The Mung dal in Kitchari has an astringent characteristic. This astringency has a natural pulling action that helps to eliminate toxic accumulation from the intestinal lining. This pulling effect is much gentler than a severe or abrasive movement that occurs with raw or cold foods, especially raw vegetables. The mung beans are known for their ability to remove toxins, specifically pesticides and insecticides, from the body.
3. Boosts Metabolism
Kitchari benefits can increase the internal fire, called Agni, that balances digestion and metabolism. Agni, or the digestive fire, is recognized in Ayurveda to be the golden key to all well-being. Healthy Agni means we are able to digest, osmose, and absorb nutrients from our food. Weak or imbalanced Agni means malabsorption and accumulation of ama or toxins. Elimination is largely determined by the strength of one’s metabolism and digestion and how quickly (or slowly) these substances move through the body. A boosted metabolism can help you lose weight and burn fat faster.
4. Improved Energy
The protein content from kitchari benefits supports stable blood sugar levels that can boost your energy levels. Kitchari also contains adequate carbohydrates and calories to maintain blood sugar levels and provide energy and satiety. The idea behind kitchari benefits is to give the body easy to digest foods that allow our energy to be spent elsewhere. If there is illness or disease growing in our systems, our bodies need extra energy to defeat these potential health issues. Each ingredient in the kitchari is designed for a specific healing purpose.
5. Improved Immune System
Kitchari benefits your overall immune system. Spices like turmeric, mustard seed and cardamom are immune boosters. The immune system is the body’s protection against dangerous organisms and other intruders. Through a set of steps named the immune response, the immune system tackles organisms and substances that attack body systems and cause disease. Since 80% of our immune system is found in the intestine, one can positively say that a healthy gut also means a healthy body at the same time.
Easiest Kitchari Recipe
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup basmati or jasmine rice, rinsed
1 cup dried moong dal* or red lentils, rinsed
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 yellow onion, diced (yields about 1 1/3 cups)
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tablespoons minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
Warm the coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium fire. Combine the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and cook them until the mustard seeds start to pop, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ginger, onions, carrots, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, mixing regularly to keep the vegetables and spices from burning.
Once the onions have softened, combine the salt, turmeric, cloves, and black pepper and mix until the spices coat the vegetables. Add the rice, moong dal, vegetable broth, and water.
Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer the kitchari for about 20 minutes.
After 15 minutes of cooking, check to see if there are still enough liquids in the pot. If you notice that the liquids are completely absorbed by the rice and beans, add 1/2 to 1 cup of water and stir to incorporate.
Separate the lid and check to see if the rice is tender. If the kitchari is looking too runny, let it simmer, uncovered, for a few more minutes. If the kitchari is too thick, turn off the heat and add 1/2 to 1 cup of water and stir. Taste and see if you need to add a small pinch of salt.
When ready to serve, portion out between bowls.
Garnish with fresh cilantro and add salt to taste (optional).