This year instead of going away for Labor Day weekend, I decided to treat the hardest working organ in my body, my liver, with a treat—a cleanse. After which, I treated myself and my digestive system, with khichadi.
Back in the day when I lived with my parents, khichadi rotated onto the dinner table on a bi-monthly basis, if not more. My mom would make Naram (soft) Khichadi, which is like the consistency of porridge. It too is made with split moong, but the moong still retains the skin or peel. The flavor and consistency are quite different considering the only differences are the amount of water and using split-unpeeled moong, but the essence is the same. She would also make Bhooni Khichadi, which is similar to my recipe below. The variations for khichadi are endless and can depend on regional traditions, the occasion or on the need for some variety. One thing is for sure, khichadi is always made with moong and a grain (most often basmati rice, a red rice or millet).
Khichadi is not just an ‘Ayurvedic’ detox food, it’s served on the tables of many S. Asian homes—it is comfort food.
Since I was doing a cleanse, I wanted to incorporate what I have learned from Ayurveda and apply it to my khichadi recipe below. The key factors that helped formulate this recipe were the summer season, what my body went through and how the ingredients will affect and support it—post experience. In knowing I need to ease into eating, I kept to a traditional style recipe. So, no veggies, just a complete protein with a very soft texture. Along with summer-friendly spices that bring a variety of flavors, kindle my digestive and are not too heating. After purging excess heat from my system the last thing I want is to generate excess heat from overly spicing my food or using spices like cloves and pepper. Simple, yet flavorful and most importantly well balanced.
Season: Summer/Early Fall
Qualities: Heavy, Moist, Warm, Soft
Tastes: Sweet, Astringent, Bitter, Pungent, Salty,
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
What you need: a 3-4 quart wide and heavy bottom pot
- 1/2 cup split & peeled moong
- 1/2 cup of basmati rice
- 1 T ghee (solid)
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 6-7 curry leaves (optional)
- 3-4 cardamom pods or 1/8 tsp cardamom powder
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp hing/asafoetida
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 tsp fennel powder
- 1 T chopped cilantro
- 3/4 tsp pink salt
- 1 3/4 -2 cups water
Gently scrub and rinse moong and rice until water runs clear (about 2-3 times). Soak for at least 20 minutes. This helps make the lentils even more digestible and helps remove excess starch.
2. On medium-high heat, warm your pot and add the ghee. When the ghee is very warm but not smoking hot, add mustard seeds, here them crackle and then quickly add curry leaves, cumin seeds, cardamom and asafoetida. Stir until cumin is slightly toasted and you can smell the aroma. Watch the video to see how. About 10-20 seconds. (This stage can also be done in a rice cooker)
3. Add the moong and rice (strain out the water its been soaking in), add the 1 3/4 cup water, ginger, turmeric, salt, cilantro and fennel powder(can be added to the rice cooker at this point as well). Stir and cover until the mixture comes to a boil.
4. Turn down the heat and let the kitchri simmer on a low flame for about 20 minutes or until rice and lentils are cooked and the water is absorbed. Depending on how long the lentils were soaked, the water quantity may need to be adjusted. It’s okay if the rice turn out a little soft. Soft is good.
5. Enjoy warm and with a little more cilantro for garnish. Happy post cleanse eating!
Why khichadi (pronounced khitch-ree) after a cleanse?
The warm, moist and soft qualities of Khichadi are soothing for the digestive tract that has been working hard during a cleanse. Providing it with food that is gently, yet filling will support and give it the nourishment it needs.
The metabolism can slow down after a cleanse, to get it going, food that is easy to digest and lightly spiced can give it the support it needs
White basmati is a long grain rice, so it has a lower glycemic index than short grain rice. Since white rice no longer has the husk, it’s less irritating to the intestine than brown rice. Making it easier on your body to digest.
Split and peeled mung beans are the easiest of all the lentils to digest. They do not produce gas making them vata balancing. After my colon spent the day working, I want to ensure that the vata’s main seat within the body, is treated with foods that create balance, while still getting my protein.
Khichadri is complete protein aka rice and beans. It provides the body with the 10 amino acids the body cannot produce. Protein is essential after a cleanse to support blood sugar levels and get the nutrients it needs. Less stress on the body equals less fat storage.
Including spices is like incorporating digestive aides with every bite. While also helping the metabolism to kick start and supporting digestion. Plus spices are nutrient rich. Spice it up!