Meatless Monday: My Easy Kitchari Recipe

Are you sometimes stumped for an easy vegetarian meal? Has your digestion been on the fritz? Do you ever crave a “cleanse” that doesn’t involve green juice or starvation of any kind? If you answered yes to any of these then you should probably meet Ayurveda’s answer to all ailments: the warm, tasty goodness that is Kitchari.

Last night after some gentle Sunday slowga it occurred to me that I was craving a bowl of this stuff. It had been a while, and since we’ve been promising to mix up Mondays with some recipes, I decided to go full-hog and take pics.

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So, what’s Kitchari? It’s a one-pot-stop Indian dish that contains everything you need nutritionally, while also going super easy on your digestive system. Week-long Kitchari cleanses—more accurately mono-diets, where you eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—are a common practice in Ayurveda to prepare the body for the strain of the changing seasons. They’re usually done in the spring or the fall, but Kitchari is recommended anytime you feel like your system needs a little break or extra love.

If you google recipes you’ll see there are all kinds of little variations, but I promise that almost anything goes here with spices as long as you add the fresh fixings (and enough salt) at the end.

The ingredients…

2 cups mung beans (the one bean known to be kind to all tummies), 1 cup basmati rice (I used brown this time), 1 tablespoon ghee* (very important!), teaspoon turmeric (anti-inflammatory and amazing), teaspoon fennel powder (I didn’t have any this time), teaspoon asoetifida (a hard-to-find, slightly funky smelling spice that tastes a little like garlic and is known to help digestion). Sometimes I use onions, even though they’re not technically part of the Kitchari recipe—in Ayurveda onions are generally a nono, but man do they add a nice flavor. Last but not least, fresh ginger, lemon or lime, fresh cilantro, and salt and pepper.

*Ghee is clarified butter, and you can find it at Whole Foods and most health food stores. It’s also considered to be a healing ingredient, which is great because it adds a richness and sweetness to everything it touches.

Step by step…

1. Strain your mung beans and in a large pot, melt a tbsp of ghee. Throw in the beans and spices on medium heat and toss them around for a few minutes.

2. Now add your rice and do the same.

3. Cover with 4-6 cups water. You can always add water—or cook water off—later so don’t worry about being exact here. You’ll see in the pic that I also added chopped leaks at this stage—usually I would have done this right at the start but I didn’t realize I had them!

4. Bring everything to a roaring boil and then lower heat to a simmer, keeping the pot covered for 15-20 minutes and then taking the cover off so that some of the water can boil off. It should take about 40 minutes give or take to fully cook, and depending on whether you want this to be a bit soupier or more substantial adjust water accordingly.

5. Season generously with salt and pepper.

6.Finally in your bowl, add another teaspoon or so of ghee, a squeeze of lime (or lemon), fresh cilantro, and freshly chopped or grated ginger. Probably a bit more salt too.

As I mentioned, if you add those to your bowl at the end, as long as you didn’t burn your Kitchari it will taste amazing.

Have you ever tried Kitchari? How do you make yours?

18 Responses to “Meatless Monday: My Easy Kitchari Recipe”
  1. jessica says:

    Yessss!!! Kitchari is the BEST!

  2. Aisha says:

    Hahaha. When I saw the title and the picture, I thought to myself that the dish looked Indian, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Once I saw the recipe though, it hit me. It’s actually called Khichdi/Khichri, not Kichari. I suppose the latter is yet another result of a mispronunciation. Calling Khichdi as “Kichari” is a bit like calling Baklava as Balaclava.

    Anyhoo, your recipe is great. You could also add another spice called ‘dhania powder’. It’s just powdered cilantro but it’s great for flavour. My mum serves Khichdi with mint chutney sometimes in summer and it tastes great. By the way, this dish is excellent for upset tummies or stomach aches, and I sometimes even eat it when a terrible cold stifles my appetite for everything else.

  3. Liz says:

    This is great and I’m going to try it this week! I just wanted to make a note about ghee: you don’t need to buy it! You can make it. Melt regular butter on the stove slowly (don’t let it bubble), and skim off the fat from the surface with a spoon. Once you’ve gotten rid of as much fat as you practically can, pour out the butter into a glass/ceram dish (i have little ramekins with lids that I use). What you’re not using immediately, you can store in the fridge!

    Ghee (clarified butter) is great for ALL cooking with butter because, without all the fat, it doesn’t smoke.

  4. Alexandra says:

    @Aisha Oh no, I’ve seen so many spellings – I just went with this one! :)

  5. therese says:

    I was feeling so out of sorts this weekend. Can’t wait to try, Thanks Alexandra!

  6. Mercedes says:

    I loooooove kitchari and I’ve been making Claudia Welch’s recipe for a few months now – I follow it exactly, and sometimes garnish at the end with cilantro, lime, toasted sesame seeds, or toasted coconut. When I heat up leftovers (I get 4 meals out of her recipe), I thin it out with homemade meat stock (not veg, sorry!) per Nourishing Traditions/West A. Price Foundation philosophy, and it feels so deeply nourishing. Love.

  7. Audreiana says:

    Looks pretty easy to make! Which is the kind of recipe I need for always being on the go. I’m in desperate need of a cleanse. Xo, Audreiana from True Beauty By Nature

  8. Silvy says:

    yum! i’ve always heard mung beans are crazy good for you, but i’ve never seen them at the store. i’ll have to have a closer look around the whole foods bulk section next time.

    when i’m feeling out of sorts, i always do plain quinoa with just salt, ghee and fresh herbs!

  9. Rebecca Bailey says:

    Is there a common vegan replacement for the ghee? Coconut oil maybe? Though that could make a big difference in the flavor. Grapeseed oil?

  10. Alexandra says:

    @Rebecca It would change the taste but I bet Ayurveda would recommend coconut oil. Like ghee it has a high smoke point, a natural sweetness, and the same calming properties. You should try it! Most of the food I ate when I visited southern India used coconut oils, so the flavor profiles are for sure compatible.

  11. danielle says:

    @ Rebecca B-I buy a coconut oil ghee from Green Pastures Organics; it is very good! I love this recipe and have made it before but have used red lentils.

  12. danielle says:

    Oops! Sorry Rebecca, I don’t think its vegan. :(

  13. jessica says:

    @Rebecca, I always make mine with coconut oil instead of ghee (because I always have the former on hand). It’s delicious and works well with the flavours!

  14. Rebecca Bailey says:

    Thanks – Alexandra, danielle, jessica – for the feedback. Will def put this on my list to try w/coconut oil.

  15. Jacqueline says:

    Late to the Kitchari Party here….@Alexandra, this looks delicious and easy in both the kitchen and on the tummy. Do you buy dried beans and then soak them? If so, for how long?

  16. Alexandra says:

    @Jacqueline I don’t actually soak them, and it’s still great, but I’ve been meaning to try soaking over night.

  17. Elena says:

    I needed a recipe to “pin”, thanks for the photos with yours! :) I’ve never had this with the spices; my West Indian in-laws make “kitchri” – but with no spice, no salt, no fat. I still love it. Actually, my favourite thing to eat that my mother in law makes is a huge bowl of her creamy-smooth dhal and rice; very similar to this, but with onions and garlic and whole cumin. Maybe I’ll work up the stamina to eat it for a week round the clock? I like the sounds of doing that, digestively-speaking.

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