As we limp into spring, I find myself needing a lot of warming, clean foods. It was a long winter of rich cooking and eating, so the idea of eating simply as the season changes is attractive. In Ayurveda, a dish called Kitchari is often prescribed for its ease of digestion and detoxifying qualities and lately I've been eating it a ton.
Kitchari literally means a mix or a mess, so this dish is a mess of rice, usually Basmati, and beans, usually split mung beans. The spices I use are traditional Indian ingredients, but there is no reason why you can't experiment with others. If you're eating this dish specifically to give your digestion a break, steer clear of spicy ingredients like red pepper flakes or cayenne.
Like chili to Americans, there are thousands of recipes for Kitchari in Indian kitchens. This is my version, with amped up ginger and a pinch of asafoetida (hing), which gives the dish a satisfying depth of savory flavor that I find missing from a lot of vegan cooking.
Serves 4 to 6
3/4 cup split yellow mung beans
2/3 cup basmati rice
1 teaspoon coconut oil or ghee
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 quart (4 cups) water
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Bragg's Liquid Aminos or sea salt
Rinse the mung beans and rice together under running water until the water runs clear.
In a 3-quart or larger heavy-bottomed pot with a lid, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the mustard and fenugreek seeds and toast until the mustard seeds pop. Add the asafoetida, ginger, tumeric, and cumin and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the beans and rice and stir until they are coated with the spice mixture.
Add the water and bay leaves to the rice and bean mixture and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until the beans and rice are soft, but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm with chopped cilantro and either Bragg's Liquid Aminos or sea salt, as needed.
(Image credits: Sara Kate Gillingham)