Today really feels like spring. It’s 60 degrees outside, sunny, and just a little bit windy. I found myself driving to the market with the windows rolled all the way down, singing to the radio at the top of my lungs. There’s something about a day like today that makes me think of fresh starts and new beginnings. I also especially feel this way because I’m moving back home with my family for the first time in three years, and I feel like I have a second chance to really appreciate what makes my childhood house a home.
When I was younger, I didn’t really appreciate my house in a small town. I thought it was so much more exciting to live in the city; to have places to go to all the time and tons of restaurants and shops around. And don’t get me wrong, all of that is fun, and it’s the ideal situation for a lot of people. But for me, I really have missed being amidst the Great Outdoors. Having swimming holes and hiking spots and farm stands just minutes away. Having and owning earth in which to garden and let all of the greenery flourish. I’d trade that for the city any day.
In the spirit of new beginnings, I thought I’d share this recipe for kitchari – which can also be spelled khichdi or kichadi – a traditional Ayurvedic cleansing food. When anyone mentions a “cleanse”, most people think of juice fasts or detoxing. In Ayurvedic tradition, however, the combination of “rice and beans” (or in this case, rice and lentils) is the ideal cleansing food because it is so easy to digest, while still providing the body with complete proteins. Made with healing Ayurvedic spices like turmeric and cumin, kitchari is flavorful and delicious while still being part of a cleanse. But the most important aspect of this type of cleanse is eating mindfully and with intention – preparing the food with love, and listening to your body to know when you’re full.
Red Lentil Kitchari | An Ayurvedic Cleanse
- 2 Cups Vegetable Stock
- 1 Cup Red Lentils
- 1/2 Sweet Onion diced
- 3 Cloves Garlic minced
- A little Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 Tsp Paprika
- 1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1/8 Tsp Cumin
- 1/8 Tsp Ground Coriander
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- 2 Cups Cooked Brown Rice to serve
- Cilantro for garnish
- Bring a pot to medium heat. Sauté the sweet onion in a little olive oil on medium-low heat until they are translucent. Then, add in the garlic and sauté for a few minutes more, checking often to ensure garlic doesn't brown.
- When done, add the lentils, vegetable stock, and spices to the pot. Stir well. Bring everything to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes. Do not stir, this mashes the lentils! When done, remove from heat.
- Once the lentils are cooked, give everything a gentle stir to make sure the spices are evenly distributed.
- Serve the kitchari over brown rice or any other grains you have on hand, like quinoa or millet. The kitchari can always be eaten on its own with bread!
- Enjoy, and eat with intention.
If you make this recipe and post it on Instagram, be sure to tag me @wellandfull and #wellandfull so I can see! I love seeing your takes on my recipes :)
dixya | food, pleasure, and healthMarch 31, 2016 at 1:59 pm
i make khichdi with plain rice and varieties of lentils very frequently..and it is probably my favorite food. it tastes even better after vacation/travel/holidays because it is very easy for us to digest and it is so nourishing!
im so glad you will be able to enjoy home and all the things you didnt appreciate before,
SarahMarch 31, 2016 at 4:38 pm
That’s awesome! It’s like a break for the digestive system, but it tastes so yummy! :)
Pure EllaMarch 31, 2016 at 4:19 pm
Wow This looks amazing! I am not familiar with the middle eastern dishes BUT this looks like my kind of food!! :)
SarahMarch 31, 2016 at 4:39 pm
Thanks Ella! :D
EchoJanuary 21, 2021 at 7:08 pm
This is not kitchari. Brown rice is harder to digest. Kitchari specifically calls for white basmati rice. Also onion and garlic are never in kitchari, they are not used in cleanses ever. They create excessive heat in the body and disrupt sleep and emotion among other things.
Please do not call the recipe on this site kitchari, it is highly misleading.
SarahJanuary 24, 2021 at 2:27 pm
I appreciate you taking the time to comment. There are many variations of kitchari or khichdi that contain brown rice and/or onions and garlic, including this one from Dolphia Nandi, this one from Anupy Singla, this one from Archana Munde, this one from Khyati Rupani, this one from Hetal Desai, this one from Bhavana Patil, this one from Richa Hingle, and this one from Ashima Goyal Siraj, where it is specifically marketed as a “detox” recipe, and includes brown rice and onions.
On her blog, Richa Hingle writes, “Kitchari/khichdi is a one pot rice and lentil meal with many variations and the ways it is served. Often is it a light cleansing food made for days you want to rest your digestion, or just a one pot dish for a quick meal. Depending on the region, it can be an elaborate preparation, comfort food or a gourmet meal as well. Khichdi means a mess and thats what the dish generally is. A well cooked mess or mixed up rice and lentils (and vegetables if using).”
In addition, on the Food52 website, Dolphia Nandi writes, “For many Indians, khichdi—a one-pot meal of rice cooked with lentils and vegetables—is a comfort food and a diet staple. There are hundreds of recipes for preparing it and hundreds of ways of consuming it.”
When I wrote this recipe back in 2016, I used “The Ayurvedic Cookbook” by Amadea Morningstar and Urmila Desai as my reference. They wrote, “Kichadis take on endless variations depending on the herbs, spices, and vegetables used in them.” Based on this criteria, and based on similar recipes labeled as kitchari from other bloggers, the use of the word kitchari here is appropriate.
Amy | The Whole Food RainbowMarch 31, 2016 at 7:41 pm
Hey Sarah! Such a lovely post, so evocative, and I love what you said about the ayurvidic way, being mindful and listening to your body, and also for cleansing food not just being fruit and veg. Spring is truly in the air with the changes it brings, and as of today Lemon and Coconut is now The Whole Food Rainbow, a name that says it all for me. Not much else has changed except for a sexy revamp, let me know what you think if you get a chance! xx
SarahApril 1, 2016 at 10:04 am
I LOVE the rebranding, Amy! I’m going to go check out your new site now!! :D
Amy | The Whole Food RainbowApril 1, 2016 at 2:44 pm
Thanks so much Sarah. I’m neck deep in tech issues now, but there is light at the end of the tunnel!! xx
SarahApril 1, 2016 at 4:36 pm
You got this, girl!! I believe in you!! :D
KatyaApril 1, 2016 at 10:25 am
this bowl looks absolutely amazing and the purity and simplicity of the dish really spek to me.
I’m not a great fan of the term ‘cleanse’ because it assumes that I’ve been eating filthy foods ;) and I know I haven’t (long time vegan clean-eater here). I do like the idea, though, to make your food as simple as possible while still getting all the nutrients. THis is something I aspire to: try to make things full of meaning, food full of nutrients without wasting time/energy on things that don’t matter or don’t bring much into my life.
All the best to you! :)
SarahApril 1, 2016 at 4:35 pm
Hi Katya! I certainly don’t mean to imply you’ve been eating dirty foods!! ;) But I’m really glad that you like this recipe, and I think you really got the message behind it – it’s all about eating intentionally and purposefully. :D I hope you have a lovely day!!
Lane | Green Spirit AdventuresApril 4, 2016 at 12:48 pm
I love kitchari and I cannot wait to try this version, it looks incredible!
SarahApril 4, 2016 at 2:25 pm
Thanks Lane!! :D
EbonyApril 30, 2016 at 2:19 am
Hi, I was wondering if you ever provide nutritional information for your recipes? Thank you. It looks delicious by the way.
SarahApril 30, 2016 at 8:56 am
I generally don’t, but there’s a great recipe calculator on MyFitnessPal that I would highly recommend! :)
susieJune 20, 2017 at 9:49 pm
I just finished a 30 day Ayurvedic cleanse…using kitcheri made with mung beans…unfortunately, I haven’t developed a taste for the mung beans so will try lentils instead when I need a digestive rest. Thank you.
SarahAugust 22, 2017 at 1:57 pm
Hope you like the recipe, Susie! :)
ElizabethOctober 16, 2018 at 11:32 pm
Yum! Made this for the second time tonight. It was great! Thanks!
SarahOctober 17, 2018 at 10:06 am
I’m so glad to hear you liked the recipe, Elizabeth! Thanks so much for leaving a note :)
RoxanneJanuary 22, 2019 at 6:28 pm
Well, I’ve just discovered that curry powder is actually a blend. i’ve always thought there was a root plant called curry and it grew like tumeric or ginger. I’ve been living in the dark! This recipe was amazing. I really could eat that breakfast, lunch and dinner and I just read it’s something people actually do. I’ll try it with some veggies and coconut milk. I’mma research on the topic. 2019 starts strong!
SarahJanuary 22, 2019 at 7:49 pm
Hi Roxanne, I’m so glad to hear you liked the recipe! Curry is a spice blend, but it is also a leafy plant! Curry leaves are often used in Indian cooking as well :) And I’ll definitely have to try this with coconut milk myself, that sounds like a delicious addition!
HPJuly 21, 2020 at 7:22 pm
Hi! I’m excited to try this! In the recipe it says coriander — do you use the whole one? or is it a ground one? If it’s the whole one, do you have to remove them before eating?
SarahJuly 29, 2020 at 8:46 am
Hi HP, I’m so sorry about the confusion on that! Please use ground coriander :)
cateFebruary 11, 2022 at 3:21 pm
this is one of my favorite comfort recipes. i add spinach and roasted red peppers and a little hot sauce. so good!!!
SarahFebruary 19, 2022 at 10:47 am
Love the sound of those additions! Thanks so much for leaving a review! :)
How To Cook Lentil Beans – LittleKitchenBigWorldSeptember 17, 2022 at 1:46 am
[…] can be made with other beans instead of them, such as white lentils. savory dishes like this Ayurvedic Lentil-Lentil-Crusted Tofu can be made with lentil flour as well. Lentils, which have a rich, meaty […]