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.
Millet Kitchari With Spring Peas & Radish Sprinkles
a millet kitchari, a little lighter, drier and nutrient dense grain, lovely for spring, or to pacify kapha dosha
- 1/2 cup split mung with peel
- 1/3 cup millet*
- 11/2 tsp ghee or coconut oil
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/8 tsp asafetida or hing optional
- 1 tsp ginger fresh, minced or paste
- 3 - 3/12 cups water or stock
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt or to taste
- 1 tsp ghee or coconut oil solid
- 1 cup fresh peas
- 1/2 tsp ghee or coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 clove garlic small & sliced thin, optional
- 1/2 green chili optional
- 4-5 radishes chopped
- Himalayan pink salt to taste
- 1/4 lemon or lime juice
rinse and soak the mung and millet for up to 4 hours or overnight to sprout and support digestions
in a 4-quart heavy bottom pot, on medium heat warm ghee or coconut oil, then add hing, cumin seeds & the cinnamon stick. Let saute for about 30 seconds to toast the cumin and release the essential oils, then add the ginger and give it a few stirs. don't worry if it sticks, it will deglaze in the next step
add in the drained, soaked millet and mung and water or stock, and turmeric. Stir and bring to boil. Then cover and let simmer on low for about 30-40 minutes. Until it has a porridge-like consistency. Towards the end, you will see a thin layer or liquid on the top that has a gelatinous quality. Check every 15 mins or so, to prevent sticking by giving it a few stirs. Towards the end, you may need to lower the temperature a bit more.
before serving, add salt and 1 tsp of ghee, and give a GOOD stir, to whip some air into and blend all flavors, and ghee into khichari. Additional ghee can be added individually if desired. Serve with peas and radish.
while the kitchari is simmering, chop the radishes into mini squares and toss with salt and lemon juice to taste. let sit for at least10-15 minutes, before serving.
while the kitchari is simmering and radish fermenting, in a small sautee pan warm oil of choice over medium heat, then add mustard seeds, when they begin to crackle add thinly sliced garlic and sliced green chili and let saute for a few seconds.
then add peas and salt to taste. cover and let cook over medium-low heat until peas are cooked. Add a touch of water if needed to create steam and prevent burning of spices.
- amount of water may need to be adjusted based on soak time and desired consistency. if adding water during the cooking process, add hot water.
- if your grains have a porridge consistency, but the khitcari is too runny for your taste, cook with the lid off for awhile so the excess water can evaporate.
- when the water atop has a gelatinous consistency, this is when it is ready, as this water will emulsify when you whip the kitchari with the ghee or coconut oil
- millet is slightly bitter and dry, it can also be split with basmati rice to mellow the flavor and dryness.