One thing I love about kitchari is that it favors no season. It’s simply year-round nourishing goodness. Whether it is being served up to cleanse, nourish or feed childhood memories, the adablity of this dish is endless. After all the word kitchari means a mixture or a mess of ingredients thrown in a pot. It starts with a base of lentils and grain, and can free fall into numerous variations of ingredients and flavors. In my family, kitchari most often means a soft, creamy porridge of split green mung and basmati rice. In some parts of South Asia, kitchari also spelled khichadi is made with masoor dal, commonly referred to in the States as red lentils (when peeled). Similar to lentil variation, there are also grain variations. When I was a baby, my mom made kitchari with a special red rice, which we still can’t seem to find in the U.S. today. In recent years, we’ve been making it with quinoa and today, I share another common kitchari grain, millet.
Millet, a nutrient & mineral dense grain is considered to be kapha pacifying. The small, yellow seed-like pellets are drier and lighter compared to rice. Considering, we are in a water-rich season, I thought it would be nice to share a simple millet kitchari, topped with spring peas and an instant radish relish to bring all six taste to the plate. While millet kitchari can be made in any season, I make a concerted effort to cook with it in the spring. With year-round pantry items it’s easy to forget they too have specific, seasonal personality traits.
These traits, are the qualities or gunas. The secret behind Ayurveda’s magical alchemy. Having these twenty words integrated into my daily life has boosted my confidence in choosing what is or is not healthy for me. Enhancing the traditional nutritional framework ingrained into our culture and taking me deeper. Developing my intuition, igniting my intellectual fire and freeing me of the external wavering noise about the latest healthiest vegetable or grain. The noise, I find feeds the lower vibrational quality of vata dosha. Trigger unnecessary worry, and stress, that keeps me in my head and disconnected from how I feel.
After four decades on this planet, and paying attention to food media for more than half of my time on earth, I’ve come to learn that there is no bad or unhealthy vegetable. Even a dense, carb-rich potato has its benefits. All unprocessed foods from the earth have nutrients, and are good for you. When eaten with awareness and balance. Over the past decade or so, I have let go of focusing on the nutritional count, because if my body cannot digest, absorb and assimilate the nutrients, then I have bigger fish to fry.
I’d rather point my attention to the specific traits, a ingredients personality aka the gunas. The adjectives that describe how it feels and weighs. It brings a new layer insightful layer, enhancing the nutritional framework along with connecting me to how I feel. From there I can determine whether I need to adjust the quantity, the cooking process, or how an ingredient will be served. Because no matter how nutrient rich, if the ingredient is drying and I am experiencing imbalances due to dryness, like insomnia, anxiety, dry skin, constipation, that ingredient is not going to serve me well. If I choose to eat it, I then need to ensure I cook and serve it in a way that will not exasperate my dryness. This level of detail has enriched and continues to enrich my understanding of healthy in profound ways. I hope it will for you too! Happy eating. Happy digesting.