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What is Kitchari?
Kitchari is Ayurveda’s most medicinal food. In ancient India, kitchari—a blend of rice, mung beans, and Ayurvedic spices—was the first food an infant ate, and it was used during convalescence for the sick or elderly.
Kitchari is used during every stage of life to rebuild, support, and strengthen doshic energy, as well as your body’s seven tissues (dhatus): plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, marrow/nerve, and reproductive tissue.
Traditionally, making a bowl of kitchari was a painstaking process. Long-grain white rice was de-husked by hand and yellow mung beans were hand split and de-husked—all of this took hours.
Without the husks, the rice and mung beans become effortless to digest.
Once the rice and mung beans are de-husked, they are slowly cooked with specific spices that are boost digestive strength, nutrient absorption, lymphatic support, and the maintenance of a healthy intestinal lining—a key to healthy digestion and Ayurvedic wellness.
See also 5 Ayurvedic Spices to Rock Your Digestive World
The Six Ayurvedic Tastes and Your Emotions
The word for taste, emotion, and lymph in Ayurveda is rasa. The fact that they all share a word suggests that taste, emotion, and lymph are physiologically connected.
In fact, studies show that each time we taste a food, it elicits a specific emotion.
Studies also show that 95 percent of your serotonin, which regulates emotion, is manufactured and stored in your gut. Emotional states are affected by the kinds of microbes you have in your gut, and those microbes are determined by the foods you eat. The emotions we feel are part of the result of how our brains and guts communicate with each other.
Ayurveda correlates specific emotions to each of the six major tastes: sweet, sour, salt, bitter, astringent, and pungent. In Ayurveda, each meal should include all six tastes in order to keep emotions, digestion, and nutrient assimilation in balance.
Making sure that each of the six tastes is part of each meal is one of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda.
The Six Ayurvedic Tastes and Their Corresponding Emotions
- Sweet = satisfaction, contentment, fulfillment
- Sour = discernment, insight, heightened awareness
- Salty = desire, zest for life, passion
- Pungent = extroverted, driven, ambitious
- Bitter = dynamic, focused, cool-headed
- Astringent = introspective, mentally clear, composed
See also The Emotional Side of Lymph and Food
LifeSpa’s Six Taste Spice Blend
To make Ayurvedic cooking easier, LifeSpa has formulated a Six Tastes Spice Blend that you can to sprinkle on a prepared meal or use to make kitchari and other classic Ayurvedic dishes.
Our Six Tastes Spice Blend is balancing for all body types and all seasons. It delivers 10 unique spices that ensure that each Ayurvedic taste—pungent, bitter, sweet, astringent, salty, and sour—is represented in each meal.
The 10 Spices in LifeSpa’s Six Tastes Blend
- Spice: organic cumin
Tastes: pungent, bitter
- Spice: organic coriander
Tastes: bitter, pungent, sweet
- Spice: organic turmeric
Tastes: pungent, bitter, astringent
- Spice: organic fennel
Tastes: sweet, pungent, bitter
- Spice: sea salt
- Spice: organic cinnamon
Tastes: sweet, pungent, astringent
- Spice: organic green mango
Tastes: sour, sweet
- Spice: organic fenugreek
Tastes: pungent, bitter, astringent, sweet
- Spice: organic ginger
Tastes: pungent, sweet
- Spice: organic cayenne
Note: If you prefer not to make your own kitchari, we have a pre-mixed delicious Organic Kitchari Packet that includes rice, beans and a packet of spices that you simply toss into a pot and simmer for 30 minutes. If you want to try your hand at making your own, we love the classic recipe below.
This recipe makes enough for three to four meals.
1 cup Split Yellow Mung Beans* (see for “weak digestion” below)
1 cup White Basmati Rice
1 Tbs Fresh Ginger Root
1 tsp each Black Mustard Seeds, and Cumin and Turmeric Powder
½ tsp each Coriander powder, and Fennel and Fenugreek Seed (Many people prefer
this recipe when the spices are doubled, or even tripled.)
3 Bay Leaves
7-10 cup Water. For weak digestion add more water and slow cook
½ tsp Salt (rock salt or Himalayan salt is best) or Bragg’s
1 small handful Fresh Chopped Cilantro Leaves
It’s important to get SPLIT MUNG DAHL beans because they are easy to digest. They have cleansing qualities that pull toxic material from the body and they are vata-balancing with anti-flatulence properties. They are available at Asian or Indian grocery stores or through LifeSpa. Please note that you do not want whole mung dahl beans, which are green, or
yellow split peas.
Kitchari Cooking Instructions
- Wash split yellow mung beans (dahl) and rice together until water runs clear.
- Heat a large pot over medium heat and then add all the spices (except the bay leaves) and dry roast for a few minutes. This dry-roasting will enhance the flavor.
- Add dahl and rice and stir again.
- Add water and bay leaves and bring to a boil.
- Boil for 10 minutes.
- Turn heat to low, cover pot and continue to cook until dahl and rice become soft (about 30-40 minutes).
- The cilantro leaves can be added just before serving.
- Add salt or Bragg’s to taste.
*For weak digestion, gas, or bloating: Before preparing kitchari, first parboil the split mung
dahl (cover with water and bring to boil), drain, and rinse. Repeat 2-3 times.
Or you can soak beans overnight and then drain. Cook as directed.
See also Kitchari: Ayurveda’s #1 Superfood for Cleansing + Rejuvenation
What did you think of this kitchari recipe? Have any tips or tricks to share?
Join the Colorado Cleanse
LifeSpa’s Colorado Cleanse is a 14-day lymph and digestive detox program that will help you reset your entire system. This kitchari cleanse has been developed by Dr. Douillard through decades of clinical practice with thousands of successful cleansers, many of whom are now its biggest fans. Learn more about the Colorado Cleanse, which incorporates food, supplements, yoga, meditation, and, of course, breathing practices!
13 thoughts on “Kitchari Recipe: How to Prepare This Cleansing Ayurvedic Food”
Dear Dr Douillard,
I have a very similar Kitchari recipe for liver healing that uses pearled barley instead of white
basamati. I just wanted to ask you what the difference is.
Is the pearled barley free from enough husk to make it easy to digest?
Would it still be as grounding as basamati white rice?
Right now I’m trying to eliminate more excess Kapha and Pitta from my body.
Thank You, David
Hello. Step 3 states to “add dahl and rice and stir again” but there are no prior instructions for dahl explaining how to prepare it exactly. Please elaborate with more specific details/ steps/ ingredient list. (Looking at other sources, dahl is a whole separate recipe).
You can just add the split yellow mung dahl beans and rice to the dry roasted spices and stir them together, then move on to step 4. Dahl (also spelled dal, daal, and dhal) can refer to split bean as in the recipe above or an Indian dish made from various legumes and spices.
I hope that clarifies things.
What about the ghee? Isn’t that part of the Kitchari recipe?
The Ghee is used for oleation therapy during cleanses. If you like, you can choose to add ghee to your kitchari when not cleansing.
Can Quinoa be used instead of basmati rice?
Why not yellow split peas?
Is it ok to add a pinch of asafoetida (hing) during detox as that is usually called for in most ayurveda khitchari recipes. Is there any ingredient that should be left out for pitta/vata pacifying recipe?
Adding Hing is fine specially if there is a tendency for gas and bloat.
The rest of the ingredients are also fine. They may stoke digestive fire but in a needed and balanced way.
I made kitchari last night using the pre-mixed packets, I followed the instructions, however it took longer to cook than instructed and was still watery at the end. I’ve made kitchari in the past, usually it has more of a thick consistency. I have enough meals for today but will be making more tonight for day 2 of the kitchari cleanse, any insights or suggestions for my next round would be greatly appreciated!
The way Dr. John suggests cooking the kitchari results in a more soupy consistency. If you like it thicker, you can reduce the water a bit.
For a shorter cooking time, you could soak the kitchari before cooking, up to 4 hours.
How does one use the six tastes spice blend in making kitchari? How much of it would I use?
You can add spices to your dish right before eating, the amount you add is personal preference! We recommend seasoning to the desired strength of taste.