Kitchari is a traditional Indian meal made with a mix of Basmati rice and moong dal. It’s gentle on the digestive system with healing and detoxifying properties. This recipe is simple, delicious, and can be enjoyed any time of the day.
A Childhood full of Kitchari
When I think of my childhood, my mom’s kitchari is one of the first things that comes to mind. It was the first food I remember eating.
Full disclosure: I was a really picky eater growing up. My poor mom would struggle to get me to eat most foods. Sometimes I would hide food under my plate — obviously, I’d get busted pretty quickly. But not kitchari — especially when it was served with a side of chopped tomato and onion salad Yum!
More Indian Recipes Coming Your Way
A few reasons I’m adding this recipe to my blog:
- I’ve been getting a lot of requests for traditional Indian recipes, which honestly brings me so much joy! I love that you enjoy Indian food because that’s what I grew up eating. I learned how to cook Indian food before any other type of food (I literally learned how to make Indian chai when I was five)!
- A lot of folks have been sharing kitchari recipes on social media…..incorrectly. I absolutely love that our Western culture is embracing so many beautiful parts of the Indian culture I grew up around, but I think it’s also important to share these traditional foods accurately.
- I learned this recipe from my mom. And my mom learned it from her mom and so forth, so it’s pretty authentic! However, on the same note, kitchari can taste and look slightly different based on what part of India one is from (as with most Indian food). What I’m sharing is how I grew up enjoying it.
What does Kitchari Mean in English?
Kitchari literally means “mixture” or “mess” in Hindi and is pronounced “kitch-uh-ree” with a rolled “r.” This dish is called kitchari because the beans and rice are “mixed” and cooked together. Kitchari can also be spelled multiple ways, including khichadi or khichdi. I will stick to “kitchari” for this post.
In Hindi, we sometimes use the word “kitchari” in casual conversation to describe a mess or dramatic situation in our lives (for example, “oh gosh, my life is such a kitchari right now” =). You get the idea! And yes, I frequently mix English and Hindi words when chatting with my parents.
So what’s so great about Kitchari?
Kitchari is a very simple and cleansing dish with healing Ayurvedic properties.
Packed with protein, kitchari is easy on the digestive system when made with split mung beans (known as moong dal or washed mung dal) Usually prescribed when recovering from illness or when dealing with a digestive or gut issue. It’s soft, creamy, and oh so delicious. While it can be made with other beans or lentils which can be a little harder to digest, split mung beans are a dream. However, it can be a little challenging to find them. I just order them from Amazon (I love that they are organic and come from a reliable source).
Kitchari is cooked with a variety of Indian spices, including turmeric, cumin seeds, ginger, and black pepper.
Kitchari is also one of the basic dishes in Ayurveda, as its simplicity can have a balancing effect on the three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha). Think of it like a “detox” food. It has a warming and cleansing effect on the body.
I hope you enjoy this traditional Indian dish. If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think! Just tag your photos to #realandvibrant on Instagram. There’s truly nothing that inspires me more than seeing you guys trying out the recipes I post.
Kitchari is a traditional Indian meal made with a mix of Basmati rice and moong dal. It's gentle on the digestive system with healing and detoxifying properties. This recipe is simple, delicious, and can be enjoyed any time of the day.
- 1/2 cup moong dal (split mung beans washed) refer to the notes on where to purchase
- 1/2 cup rice (Basmati or plain white rice)
- 4 cups water (for cooking)
- 1 tbsp avocado oil or ghee
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp minced fresh ginger (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Combine the rice and mung beans. Soak in a bowl of water (be sure to add enough water to fully submerge the rice and beans) for about 30 minutes. Rinse well and drain.
Add oil/ghee to a medium pot on low heat. Once the oil/ghee starts to warm up, add the cumin seeds.
When the seeds start to brown and become fragrant, add the ginger (if using fresh ginger) and ground turmeric. Stir for about 30 seconds. Add the salt, black pepper, and the 4 cups of water. Increase the heat to medium-high.
Add salt, ginger (if using ground ginger). When the water comes to a light boil, add the moong dal and rice.
When the water comes to a boil again, turn the heat down to low and stir in half of the cilantro. Let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Carefully taste the mixture to make sure the rice and beans are cooked through. If not, you may need to let it cook a little longer.
Turn off the heat. Adjust seasoning, if needed, and stir again. Garnish with fresh cilantro. You can also drizzle with a little fresh lime juice and enjoy!
Moong dal (split mung beans washed) can be challenging to find. You can get them from Amazon here.