The Spring Kitchari (khichdi) is a classic ayurveda food. It is part of a cleansing practice that pacifies the wet, heavy, and dull qualities of spring. This simple and easily digestible meal helps in healing and soothing the intestinal wall, assimilation, and elimination. Designed to help regain digestive balance as well as cleanse the liver. It’s a superfood!
Benefits Of Ingredients, From An Eastern Viewpoint
This Ayurvedic cleansing food is nourishing, satisfying, and simple. It is a complete protein of mung beans and rice.
1. Spices And Ghee
The spices in this meal help in kindling the digestive fire (metabolism) and the ghee helps to dislodge digestive toxins from the tissues into the digestive tract where they can be eliminated.
2. Basmati Rice
Rice is getting a bad reputation, especially with the popularity of the Paleo diet.
There are a few foods that Ayurveda has established as good for everyone, year round, and rice is number one on the list. A grain of brown rice is encapsulated by the bran. This outer shell is full of fiber, B-vitamins, and trace minerals. When the bran is removed through milling the rice is white. White rice inevitably has less fiber than brown, but it still has nutritional value and provides protein and energy. And since its outer shell has been removed it is much easier to digest for Vatas.
For this reason, white rice is recommended when the body’s digestive ability is low. For Vatas, who have a more sensitive digestion and weaker agni, white rice is the way to go. Rice is also a sattvic food – it helps produce ‘ojas’ which is Sanskrit for vitality and immunity. Vatas are prone to ojas depletion which is why basmati rice is a great staple in their diet.
3. Mung Beans
The light, spring greens complete this perfect detoxifying dish providing fiber, nutrients, and vitamins to this healing meal.
Kitchari is a potent blood purifier and also supports proper kidney function. In Chinese Medicine, we use the mung bean to strip pesticides out of the system, which is especially helpful for the reproductive organs, liver, and the thyroid.
Mung beans are sweet and cooling which means they are especially good for the immune system. The sweet taste also means that mung beans are grounding for the central nervous system. They are also sattvic which means they have the effect of producing a sense of satisfaction in the mind and body.
This is a popular Indian spice used in curries – and it’s also an invaluable medicine. It soothes an irritated digestive system and cools any burning sensations in the body. Its sweet aroma can help lift the spirits and reduce depression. It is pungent, bitter and sweet, and slightly oily and it reduces excess Vata.
Cilantro, also known as coriander, is an excellent remedy for promoting digestion. It is especially good at building your metabolism without aggravating any acidity. It can be used safely when there is any inflammation in the digestive system and when the digestive fire needs strengthening.
It is a useful carminative herb prescribed for IBS and colic – both Vata conditions. Both the leaf and the seed are used for digestion to clear gas, griping pains, and bloating.
It is also useful in the treatment of urinary tract infections such as cystitis, dysuria, and cloudy urine. It is also a good remedy for diabetes and it helps reduce hot flashes.
It’s a great anti-allergenic remedy and helps with allergic rhinitis, and is especially good at clearing toxins from the skin. It has an antispasmodic effect in the lungs and acts as an expectorant clear mucus from the lungs.
Benefits Of Ingredients, From A Western Viewpoint
Rice is primarily composed of carbs which are mainly in the form of starch. Starch is the most common form of carbohydrates in foods, made up of long chains of glucose known as amylose and amylopectin. Rice that is high in amylose, such as basmati rice, does not stick together after cooking, and amylose also slows down the digestion of starch and is often associated with so-called resistant starch, a type of healthy fiber.
As Vatas often suffer from colon health problems – resistant starch helps feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. This, in turn, stimulates their growth and in the colon, resistant starch leads to the formation of short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, which may improve colon health and cut the risk of colon cancer says a study.1
2. Mung Beans
A type of small, green legume in the same plant family as peas and lentils, mung beans are a high source of protein, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. While mung beans may be new to you, they’ve been a part of traditional Ayurvedic diets for thousands of years.
Mung beans are an alkaline food with a high source of nutrients including manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, copper, zinc and various B vitamins.
They are a filling food containing both carbohydrates resistant starch and proteins. They also have a low GI (glycemic index) which means they offer a slow release of energy into the bloodstream due to the slow breakdown of carbohydrates. Because of their high nutrient density, mung beans are considered useful in defending against several chronic, age-related diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
Clinical evidence continues to show that plant-derived foods have various potential health benefits, including lowering inflammation. Among plant-based sources of protein and nutrients, mung beans are one of the healthiest sources of plant protein out there. As the Journal of Chemistry Central puts it, “mung beans have biological activities including antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antihypertensive, lipid metabolism accommodation, antihypertensive and antitumor effects.”2
Cilantro is very low in calories and contains no cholesterol. However, its deep-green leaves possess good amounts of antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins, and dietary fiber, which may help reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels in the blood.
The leaves and stem tips are also rich in numerous antioxidant polyphenolic flavonoids. Cilantro is also a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is essential for red blood cell production. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
It is also rich in many vital vitamins, including folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-A, beta carotene, vitamin-C, which are essential for optimum health. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant. It provides about 225% of recommended daily intake. Vitamin-A, an important fat-soluble vitamin, and antioxidant, is also required for maintaining healthy mucus and skin and is also essential for vision. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin-A and flavonoids (carotenes) may help protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
Cilantro is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K which has a potential role in bone mass building through the promotion of osteotropic activity in the bones. It also has established a role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.
Cilantro leaves provide only 23 calories/100 g, but their phytonutrients profile is no less than any superfoods around us!
Spring Kitchari Recipe
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1/2 cup organic yellow split mung beans
- 4 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons ghee
- 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
- ½ tsp each: coriander powder, fennel, and fenugreek seeds
- 3 cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 carrots
- 1 ½ cups fresh green beans
- 1 small zucchini
- 1 cup spring greens, kale, dandelion leaves, beet greens (mixed)
- 1/2 cup Cilantro and some to garnish
- Wash the rice and mung beans. Wash and peel vegetables and cut in your favorite way.
- In a saucepan, warm the ghee over medium heat.
- Add the ginger, fennel, mustard and cumin seeds and sauté for one to two minutes.
- Add the rice and mung beans and sauté for another couple of minutes.
- Add in all the vegetables, barring the leafy greens. Stir for a minute.
- Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.
- Once the kitchari has come to a boil, add the salt, powdered spices, and any leafy greens and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until everything is tender (approximately 30-45 minutes). If you need to add more water to prevent scorching, please do so. The consistency should be that of a soft rice mix, as opposed to a broth.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and add salt to taste.
Note: The vegetables used in this recipe are based on my preferences, but you can use 2 cups of any veggies that are in season.
|↑1||Fung, Kim YC, Leah Cosgrove, Trevor Lockett, Richard Head, and David L. Topping. “A review of the potential mechanisms for the lowering of colorectal oncogenesis by butyrate.” British Journal of Nutrition 108, no. 05 (2012): 820-831.|
|↑2||Chung, Ill-Min, Min-A. Yeo, Sun-Jin Kim, and Hyung-In Moon. “Protective effects of organic solvent fractions from the seeds of Vigna radiata L. wilczek against antioxidant mechanisms.” Human & experimental toxicology 30, no. 8 (2011): 904-909.|