Daylight savings just ended, so it will basically be dark most of the time for the next few months! As someone who suffers from SAD (seasonal affect disorder), it can be a challenging time. What works best for me is to get plenty of aerobic exercise and eat really well. I usually start the fall season with a soup detox for a week or two. This year I also did a modified Pancha Karma cleanse at home to support my body and spirit. It was such a nurturing gift to myself I feel ready to light the fire and candles and enjoy the season this year!
For my fall cleanse I made a big pot of Kitchari, also called Khichri, Kitchree, Khichdi or Khichadi, depending on which recipe you use. It is basically a soup/stew made from moong (mung) beans and/or lentils and rice with lots of Indian spices and sometimes finely chopped vegetables. It is a very healing, easy to digest one pot meal eaten often in India, Pakistan, and Nepal. In Ayurvedic practice (the ancient system of medicine and healing in India) it is the best thing to eat to heal and balance your digestive system. It also happens to be delicious and a super comfort food so if you want to give your gut a break before the upcoming holiday feasting begins try this for a few days and your tummy will thank you😋.
There are literally hundreds of different recipes for this dish so I am offering my version which has all the things I like. This is truly a recipe where you can switch things around to suit your own tastebuds. The key ingredients are moong (mung) beans and basmati rice but I also add some red lentils to mine. You can make it as bland or spicy as you like and add whatever organic vegetables you prefer. Since this is all I eat for the 3 -5 day cleanse I like to add lots of vegetables to make it as nutritious as possible and I always use organic produce. It is so satisfying I do not feel deprived and usually eat it for at least one of my daily meals throughout the winter months. It’s the perfect breakfast on a cold, dark morning!
Recipe for Erin’s Kitchari (makes a BIG pot of soup, 8 -10 servings)
- 1 1/2 cups dry moong (mung) beans, soaked overnight in water
- 1 cup red lentils, soaked overnight
- 1 cup brown basmati rice, soaked overnight
- 8 – 10 cups water, depending on desired thickness
- 1 onion, dice
- 2 cloves garlic, optional if it doesn’t suit you
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 small head broccoli, cut into tiny pieces
- 6-8 oz fresh mushrooms
- 4 -5 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water
- 1 bunch kale or Chard, chopped into small ribbons
- Optional: celery, green beans, fresh peas, fennel bulb (dice all veggies into small pieces)
- 2 TBSP ghee, sesame or coconut oil
- 1 TBSP fresh ginger, peeled & grated or finely minced
- 1 TBSP Braggs Liquid Aminos or miso
- 2 – 3 tsp each: Black or red mustard seeds, cumin seeds, black sesame seeds, turmeric powder, cumin powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
- optional: pinch of red pepper flakes or chili powder
- Rinse and then soak mung beans, lentils and rice in separate bowls overnight.
- The next day drain mung beans and rinse well. In a large soup pot (you can also use a crock pot) add the beans and 4 – 5 cups water. Cook on low for several hours (this is why a crock pot is perfect) until the beans are completely soft.
- Drain and rinse the red lentils and rice and add to the pot with another 1 – 2 cups of water. Continue to cook on low heat for about an hour or more until rice is completely cooked. You are going for a mushy consistency, so it’s easy to digest.
- While the rice and beans/lentils are cooking, wash and dice all the vegetables and finely mince the ginger.
- Soak the dried mushrooms in a cup of very hot water.
- Heat a cast iron pot or Dutch oven and add ghee, sesame oil or coconut oil. When it’s hot add all the seeds and spices, including the ginger, stirring to mix them together. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. They should smell amazing as they sauté.
- Add chopped onion, carrots, fennel and celery if using. Cook on low for about 5 minutes then add rest of vegetables and continue to cook for a few more minutes, until the mushrooms get soft.
- Strain the dried mushrooms and add the liquid to the vegetables. Chop the softened dried mushrooms into small pieces and add to the pot. Cook for another minute or two, then season with salt and pepper and dried chili flakes if you want a bit of heat.
- Add cooked veggies/spices to the pot of cooked legumes and rice and cook on low heat for half an hour or more. You want everything to be cooked into a stew-like consistency, almost porridge-like.
- Add more water if you want it more like soup than stew. Taste and add more seasonings and salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve Kitchari in big bowls with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish. Eat this 3 or more times a day for a cleanse (this is all you eat but eat as much as you like). It is healthy comfort food at its best😋!