By Caitlin Rose
200hr E-RYT & Ayurvedic Counselor
Unlike other cleanses, an Ayurvedic cleanse is all about nourishing the mind and body by clearing away that which is not serving our goal of happiness and health, while replenishing the body with that which does. During the “cleansing stage” of an Ayurvedic Cleanse, Kitchari is eaten as the primary food source. Kitchari is a traditional Indian dish that is served with a Tridoshic blend of herbs, along with a plentiful amount of seasonal vegetables. The base of the dish is rice and beans, leaving you with enough protein to keep going through life uninterrupted.
The purpose of an Ayurvedic cleanse is to reset the metabolism, clear away accumulated toxins and reveal lightness and energy as we move into a new season. Kitchari helps to reset the metabolism because it is easy to digest, keeping things moving, and the Kitcharie spices are very stimulating to the Agni, also known as our metabolism. Our metabolism is the key to health, if you want to read more about this find our article, Enzymes and Agni. Here we will break down the recipe to highlight the benefits of Kitchari!
Benefits of the Ingredients in Kitchari:
Split Mung Dal and Basmati Rice:
Soaked split mung dal is among one of the most easily digested beans that we can eat- even for those with weak digestion. The combination of rice and mung dal provide us with all of the essential amino acids needed to form a complete protein. The protein content of Kitchari helps to support stable blood sugar levels, providing sustained energy and mental clarity throughout the cleanse.
The Charaka Samhita, one of the classical texts of Ayurveda, states “the intake of ghee is prescribed for those whose bodily constitution is dominated by vata and pitta, who is suffering from diseases due to the vitiation of vata and pitta, those desirous of good eye sight, the old, children, the weak, those desirous of longevity, those desirous of strength, good complexion, voice, nourishment, progeny, tenderness of the body, luster, ojas [life-sustaining vitality], memory, intelligence, power of digestion, wisdom, proper functioning of sense organs, and those afflicted with injuries due to burns.”
- Enhances agni (healthy digestion)
- Enhances the absorption of nutrients
- Enhances the absorption of herbal medicines
- Lubricates the body, nourishing the tissues and the nervous system
- Promotes memory and intellect
- Promotes the elimination of toxins within the body
- Strengthens the sense organs and immunity
- Improves strength and tone of the voice
For more on Ghee, find our full article titles, Ghee!
These herbs support a healthy appetite, promotes digestion and elimination of toxins while balancing all three doshas. They are recommended to add to any dals, soups or vegetables.
Mustard Seed: Mustard seed is pungent and oily, making it ideal for stimulating the digestive fire and balancing vata and kapha dosha.
Cumin Seeds: Cumin is one of the most recommended of the Ayurvedic spices. It supports healthy digestion without aggravating and of the doshas, making it tridoshic. Its name is sanskrit directly translates to, “promoting digestion.” In India cumin seeds are often consumed whole pose meal as a digestive aid, helping to reduce excess vata in the GI teact. Cumin stimulates our digestive enzymes, promoting prompt absorption and assimilation of nutrients as well as aids in regular elimination.
Fennel Seeds: Fennel seeds shares many of the same effects as cumin with some added benefit to aid in the movement of fluids through the body. Fennel is a fantastic aid in supporting the urinary tract, nervous system, muscles and menstruation. Fennel helps to calm the mind and increase clarity.
Coriander (Cilantro): Coriander is a cooling digestive aid. It shares many of the same qualities as fennel and cumin, yet has an added benefit of reducing any extra heat in the body. This can range for reducing acidity in the GI tract to reducing the side effects of menopause.
Ginger: Ginger is a universal medicine that is irreplaceable in nature, as well as in the kitchen. It is a digestive aid that also aids in the elimination of natural toxins in the body by liquifying ama (toxic build up). Ginger has a warming effect on the body, helping to reduce excess kapha and vata. It supports healthy circulation, regulates blood pressure and promotes cleansing. Ginger helps to support healthy lungs and comfortable breathing, removing excess kapha from the upper chest.
Turmeric: Turmeric is another Indian spice thats benefits far exceed the majority of other herbs. Not only does turmeric help to promote digestion, kindle our digestive fire and clear accumulated toxins from the body; it also helps to cleanse the blood and reduce inflammation throughout. It also helps to regulate blood sugar and promote healthy intestinal flora.
Natural Pink Salt: Natural pink salt does not cause water retention as readily as other types of salt and is unprocessed and packed with minerals, making it the best choice for Ayurvedic cooking. Salt enhances the digestive fire, helping to stimulate the appetite as well as strengthen our ability to digest. Salt helps to digest natural toxins and clears the subtle channels of the body. It is beneficial in reducing excess vata as it is very grounding.
Asafoetida: Not a common spice found at any grocery store, but a crucial ingredient to many Indian dishes. Asafoetida is an antispasmodic (nervine), expectorant (reducing phlegm), natural laxative and sedative. In India cooking it is typically always found in dishes containing lentils or beans as it is an anti gas. In cooking asafoetida takes on the flavor of an onion.
In addition to the rice, beans and spices- Kitchari includes a hearty amount of nutritious local, seasonal vegetables of your choice. Following Ayurvedic principles, it is ideal to eat in accordance to the season, luckily nature makes this easy by growing what we need. Buying local, organic foods will always insure that you are getting the support your body needs.
3/4 cup basmati rice
1 cup beans (split mung dal, chickpeas, navy beans or adzuki beans)
5 cups water
1 inch minced ginger
2 tsp ghee or coconut oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp coriander posder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 pinch asafoetida
3-4 cups chopped seasonal vegetables (bitter greens, peppers, onions, leafy greens, brussel sprouts, broccoli, peas, carrots and celery)
1 cup chopped cilantro
Soak beans overnight or up to 8 hours. Rinse the rice. In a large pot warm the oil (ghee or coconut) on medium heat. Add fennel, mustard and cumin seeds, salute seeds until they start to pop. Add the rest of the spices, finger, rice and mung beans. Stir well and then slowly begin to add the 6 cups of water and your choice of vegetables (hold leafy greens to be added closer to the end). Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover and cook until all ingredients are tender, about 45 minutes. Add fresh cilantro and salt to taste and serve.