KITCHARI – THE ULTIMATE FOOD
Mary-Jo’s 1 week (or more if you choose) Kitcharie Plan
- buy mung beans (the tiny yellow split mung beans/dal) and white basmati rice (it is more easily digested that brown rice and traditionally used in kitcharee
- mung beans are best soaked overnight but if time does not allow a good rinse before cooking works ok as well
- when cooking the kitcharee there may be a foam that surfaces, skim this off of the top as you are cooking this will assist in better digestion
- be creative with the choice of spices and please add vegetables into the pot as you cook to make a really tasty meal
- I have found that I like to use more spice than is generally recommended in a kitcharee recipie- this is fine to do for the nature of your week long kitcharee cleanse’
- the energy that goes into cooking the food is very important, chanting OM mentally or verbally is wonderful or the mantra: Om Aim Hrim Klim Chamundayi Vichee Namaha
The Key to Health – Agni
Food is converted into healthy tissues and organs when it is transformed by a healthy digestive fire, known as agni is then absorbed by the body’s cells. According to Ayurveda, everything we take into our bodies through the mouth, breath and skin, and into our minds through our senses and thoughts, is converted for use by digestive agni. In this way, the sum of everything we eat, see, hear, and think becomes who we are.
When our digestive fire is strong and healthy, our tissues and organs are healthy, we have good immunity against disease, and our outlook on life is naturally vibrant and joyful. If our digestive fire is not strong, the food we eat putrefies inside us, which can lead to premature aging, obesity, low energy, low immunity, or emotional disturbances such as depression or anxiety.
The Start of all Disease – Ama
When the digestive agni is weak, undigested food particles begin accumulating in the digestive system, resulting in a mucus-like, toxic substance called ama. This ama forms first in the digestive tract, but sooner or later spills over into the blood, muscles, fat, bone and even the nervous system. According to Ayurveda, accumulated ama is the start of all illnesses. It creates blockages in the body’s channels causing stagnant energy of nutrients and leading to disease and emotional disturbances.
How does ama form?
- Eating fried or fatty foods, red meat, wheat, and refined sugar
- Drinking excess water during meals
- Drinking ice cold beverages or ice cream regularly
- Eating dry, heavy or cold meals regularly
- Staying up late at night or traveling excessively
- Having a sedentary or stressful lifestyle
How can you get rid of ama?
- Maintaining a strong digestive fire so that all food you eat is fully digested
- Taking supportive herbal formulas that dissolve ama and blockages caused by ama
- Eliminating ama from the body by fasting or detoxification practices like pancha karma.
Foods that Weaken Digestive Agni
The digestive fire can weaken if you overindulge in spicy, cold or fatty foods, if you eat the wrong kinds of foods for your unique constitution, or if you are under stress. Below is a list of foods that may weaken the digestive fire in all constitutions. These should be avoided or eliminated from your diet if you want to regain vibrant health. If you must eat these foods, try for a maximum of three times per week.
HEAVY TO DIGEST FOODS such as wheat, meat (esp. red meat), refined sugar and deep fried foods. These foods severely decrease the digestive agni and produce mucus and toxic ama.
SOUR AND SPICY FOODS such as tomatoes, all sour fruits (oranges, pineapples, lemons, grapefruits etc.), vinegars and hot spices like chilies. These foods, when eaten excessively, increase pitta heat in the body and eventually reduce digestive power.
FERMENTED FOODS such as yogurt, alcohol, cheese (especially old and hard ones like Bleu cheese, camembert, brie, etc.) and yeast containing foods such as veggie pitas, soy sauce and beer. Foods that are fermented are sour and heating in nature and though they balance vata in small amounts, they increase pitta. This results in more gas, as well as decreased digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
ICE COLD FOODS AND DRINKS kill the digestive fire. They are best avoided totally. If taken as refreshment during hot summer days, wait 2 hours after or before meals.
CANNED, PACKAGED AND MICROWAVED FOODS! They have limited nutritional value, weaken the digestive fire and produce toxins in the body.
Food should taste, smell and look delicious, as this combination causes our digestive fire to blaze and our food to digest well. Like any cooking discipline, there are elements of both art and science involved. The key to learning how to cook Ayurvedically is to start with a good recipe, and then gradually branch out from there.
Kichari – THE PRIMARY BALANCING FOOD
Kichari is a nourishing and delicious dish of basmati rice cooked with split mung beans, ghee and spices. It is one of the staples of the Ayurvedic diet and is often the only food that is served during the detoxification and rejuvenation therapies of pancha karma. Kichari is suitable for all body types and is highly nutritious, a near perfect blend of proteins and nutrients. Since it does not aggravate Vata, Pitta or Kapha, eating it alone for a few days at a time allows the body to rest and recuperate during illness or intensive therapy. Kichari can be served by itself or with vegetables, and the consistency may be like a soup or more like a rice dish or casserole.
1 cup basmati rice
1 cup split mung beans (yellow mung dhal)*
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin powder *
1 tsp coriander powder *
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp Grated ginger
Serve with grated coconut, sea salt, fresh lime, chopped cilantro
* These quantities can be doubled or modified for more flavor or different properties.
Heat the spices in a large deep saucepan with a little bit of water. When the mustard seeds pop, add cumin, coriander, turmeric. Saute; for a minute or so, then add the split mung beans and finally the rice. Stir until all foods are flavored and colored with the spice mixture. Add 5 to 8 cups of water and let the food come to a boil. After 5 minutes, reduce heat to simmer and let cook for about 30-35 minutes or until the beans are completely soft. Then and only then, add a little salt. Serve the dish with freshly chopped cilantro. You can add more water if you like a more soupy consistency. As mentioned above, you can experiment with different vegetables and spices to create different flavors and different properties. You can add your chosen vegetables during the last 15-20 minutes of your cooking time. Always be mindful of the properties of all foods you eat, and try to eat according to your dosha. Winter squash is best for extra fiber, greens are best for balancing the spicy qualities of the herbs.
Green Mung Bean Soup
In Ayurveda, Mung Bean Soup (also called mung dal) has a magical and powerful effect! It helps to balance all 3 doshas. Its spices are part of the medicinal quality of this delicious and nourishing soup. When combined with certain sharp and penetrating herbs, the blocks created by ama (toxic mucus that lodges in the body over time due to poor diet, lack of exercise and wrong lifestyle) are broken and flushed out of the body.
1 cup whole green Mung beans – soaked overnight in 2 cups water + 1 tsp. salt
4 cups fresh water after straining soaked beans – add more to make it more soupy
1 tbs. Sunflower oil or ghee
1/2 tsp. Mustard seeds *
1 Bay leaf
1/2 tsp. Turmeric
1 tsp. mixed Cumin and Coriander Powder *
1 1/2 tsp. Ginger – chopped or grated
1 1/2 tsp. Lemon juice
1 tsp. raw Sugar cane juice–succanat (optional)
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
*you can double the amount of these spices if you want to add more taste
METHOD OF PREPARATION
Soak the whole green mung beans overnight in water. Drain the mung beans, wash them two times and then cook them for about 40-45 minutes (the hulls should be broken.) In a separate large and deep saucepan, heat the oil or ghee and add mustard seeds. When mustard seeds pop, bay leaf, turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger and a pinch of black pepper. Mix well and do not allow to burn. Place the cooked beans with the fresh water and the remaining ingredients into the herbal mixture in the saucepan. Bring to a boil then simmer for a few minutes more. Enjoy!
MUNG BEAN SOUP CURE:
It is beneficial to fast on Mung Bean Soup. You can start with 3-5 day fast, eating only mung bean soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then add cooked vegetables like squashes and leafy greens for two days. Finally, add a 1/2 cup of rice for two days. Then return to your normal diet. You can also do a mung soup fast for half a day if you feel you have eaten something too heavy the day before.
Rice gruel is a light and digestible breakfast or snack food to eat during the day. It is a very nourishing food.
1/2 cup basmati rice
2-4 cups hot water
1 tsp ginger root
1/4 tsp. salt
Rinse the rice and cook for around 35-40 minutes
For different tastes: Use 1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon and cardamom, with a pinch of saffron, sweeten with maple syrup or succanat. Or, alternately: Use 1/4 tsp each of cumin, coriander and fennel, with a squirt of Bragg’s Liquid aminos or squeeze of lemon juice to taste.
NOTE: You may add more water and blend into a warm smoothie for easier digestion.
Ginger water has the quality to cut into and loosen mucus as well as stimulate your digestive fire. Due to this stimulating action on the digestion it is also the perfect drink to be taken either before you eat a meal or half an hour afterwards.
To make: Cut 4-5 slices of fresh ginger root and place in a pan of water. Bring it to a boil and allow it to simmer for at least 5 minutes. Strain into a mug and enjoy! If you wish to sweeten it with honey, add it only after the liquid has cooled to drinking temperature, as honey is not heat stable.