What’s So Amazing about Khichadi?

Via on Mar 21, 2013

kitchari with sweet potato and chutney

Above all other Indian meals, there is one which is considered to help facilitate spiritual growth.

It is the Ayurvedic detox food—but it can also be found on many dinner tables on a normal day, as it is loved for other reasons, as well.

Khichadi, pronounced kich-ah-ree and sometimes spelled “kitchari” or “khichdi,” has long been used to nourish babies and the elderly, the sick and the healthy during special times of detox, cleansing and deep spiritual practice.

A simple, porridge-like blend of beans and rice, khichadi is often referred to as the Indian “comfort food.” But perhaps contrary to the western idea of comfort food or even health food, khichadi has many nourishing and cleansing benefits.

Join me as I investigate the subtle magic of khichadi, its profound benefits, and a simple recipe to enjoy.

The term khichadi is used to describe any dish made with a mixture of rice and beans. For the traditional, cleansing khichadi, split yellow mung beans were used along with a long grain white or basmati rice, and a blend of traditional Indian spices. Let’s take a look at the constituents of khichadi on their own before we talk about how to blend them together.

Why White Rice?

The first question you might ask is, why white rice? During a cleanse, the metabolism slows down and the digestive strength weakens, so any food eaten must be very easy to digest.

Basmati_Rice_in_a_Basket
During a cleanse, long-grain white rice may be preferable for ease of digestion.

For khichadi, white rice is used because the husk has been milled off to make the rice easier to digest. While brown rice may be used – and will actually supply more nutrients – the husk makes brown rice much harder to digest. During cleansing, a time of already compromised digestion, this can irritate the intestinal wall and cause digestive gas or abdominal pain.

Traditionally, farmers would bring their rice to the miller and have the rice de-husked based on their needs. If someone was sick, elderly, or there was a baby in the house, all of the husk would come off, making white rice for the ease of digestion. Brown rice was used only if digestive strength was optimal or when funds were short, as it was expensive to have the rice prepared and de-husked.

Typically, long grain white rice was used over short grain rice because it was believed to be more nutritious. Even without the husk, it was considered a more stable food than short grain rice. Now, studies have shown that long grain white rice has a lower glycemic index than short grain rice.

Why Split Yellow Mung Beans?

To be called khichadi, the rice has to be cooked with a legume. Traditionally, that legume was split yellow mung dahl beans. These are the only legumes that are classified as “vata balancing” in Ayurveda. This means that, unlike every other type of beans or lentils, they will not produce any intestinal gas.

Split yellow mung beans also have their husk naturally removed. When they are split, the husk, which is very hard to digest and gas producing, naturally falls off. This process naturally renders them much easier to cook, digest, and assimilate.

A Perfect Protein

The combination of rice and beans has been a staple around the world for 10,000 years, and for good reason. You have probably heard the term “complete protein,” but let’s take a minute to really understand what that means.

There are 20 amino acids that combine with one another to make the proteins the body needs. 10 of them, the body can synthesize on its own. The other 10, called essential amino acids, the body does not make, meaning we must get it from our foods. Animal proteins are “complete” in that they contain all ten essential amino acids, but plant foods need to be combined to make a “complete protein.”

Split_Yellow_Mung_Beans
According to Ayurveda, split yellow mung beans are the one type of beans or lentils that will not produce gas.

Rice, like most grains, is very low in the amino acid lysine. As a result, if you live on grains alone, you will likely become protein deficient. Legumes and lentils, on the other hand, have lots of lysine, but they are generally low in methionine, tryptophan and cystine. Fortunately, grains are high in these three amino acids.

So the marriage of rice and beans, as found in khichadi, has been providing the 10 essential amino acids and making complete proteins for cultures around the world for thousands of years. For cultures that have subsisted on a plant-based diet, this marriage is often what allows their diet to be nutritionally sustainable.

 

Khichadi for Cleansing

During a cleanse, it is essential to have adequate protein to keep the blood sugar stable and the body burning fat.

One of the most common reasons folks have trouble with cleansing is due to unstable blood sugars made worse by the detox process. During a fast, for example, you are asked to drink only water, juice or veggies. For many, this type of austere fasting can be a strain and deplete blood sugar reserves. Then folks get really hungry, irritable, and end up with a low blood sugar headache or crash. While the goal of a fast is to shift the body into fat metabolism and detox the fat cells, this will not happen if the body is under stress and strain as a result of a difficult fast.

Here’s the basic equation:

Stress = Fat storing
No Stress = Fat burning

If you are attempting to detox heavy metals, preservatives, chemicals, pesticides and environmental toxins from your fat cells with a cleanse, make sure that you are not straining, or the amount of fat burned will be minimal.

Khichadi provides nourishment in the form of a complete protein that will keep the blood sugars stable during a cleanse. Otherwise, ironically, the body may react to the cleanse as a fat-storing emergency!

The goal of any effective cleanse should be to convince the body and the cells that life is not an emergency and that it is okay to burn that stored fat and release toxins. During a khichadi cleanse, you are eating this complete protein three meals a day, so there is no starvation response whatsoever. In fact, I always say that during our Colorado Cleanse and Short Home Cleanse, if you are straining or hungry than you are not getting the optimal benefits. The more comfortable you are the more fat you will burn.

Khichadi to Heal the Gut

In India, khichadi is often the first food for babies, not only because it is so easy to digest, it also heals and soothes the intestinal wall.

With 95 percent of the body’s serotonin produced in the gut, it is clear we process our stress through the intestinal wall. Chronic stress will irritate the intestinal wall and compromise digestion, the ability to detoxify through the gut, and cope with stress. During a Khichadi cleanse, the digestive system can heal. While we offer four dietary options in our Khichadi cleanses, eating just khichadi as a “mono diet” allows much of the digestion to be at rest during the cleanse, providing the nutrition needed to heal the gut and nourish the body.

Spiritual Practice and Deep Inner Calm

The state of fat metabolism facilitates a deep inner calm, making it the natural state for spiritual inquiry and practice. For this reason, khichadi was also fed to monks and ascetics to help

Sunbeams_Through_The_Trees
Having adequate protein to maintain blood sugar stability during a cleanse can facilitate feelings of inner peace and calm.

create a sense of stillness in which we gain greater access to old toxic emotional and behavior patterns. This is also why khichadi is the food of choice of Panchakarma, Ayurveda’s deepest detox retreat.

How to Make Khichadi

This recipe makes enough khichadi for three or four meals. You can play with the mixture of spices. Many people prefer this recipe when the spices are doubled, or even tripled.
Ghee is optional in this recipe. Optionally, you can start by browning the spices in a pan with 1-2 tbsp of ghee.

*A note on khichadi for cleansing: During a cleanse, we recommend that the khichadi be made with less or no ghee. Because ghee is a fat, it will slow the shift into fat metabolism. The less ghee you use, the deeper the cleanse. Outside of cleansing, as part of a regular diet, it is important to use ghee.

Ingredients:

1 cup split yellow mung dahl beans*
¼ – ½ cup long grain white or white basmati rice
1 tbsp fresh ginger root
1 tsp each: black mustard seeds, cumin, and turmeric powder
½ tsp each: coriander powder, fennel and fenugreek seeds
3 cloves
3 bay leaves
7-10 cup water
½ tsp salt (rock salt is best) or Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 small handful chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Can add steamed vegetables or lean meat when not cleansing, or for extra blood sugar support during a cleanse

*Split yellow mung dahl beans are available at Asian or Indian grocery stores, or on our online store. Different spellings include “mung” or just “dahl.” Please note that you do not want the whole mung beans—which are green—or yellow split peas.

Method:

Wash split yellow mung beans and rice together until water runs clear.
In a pre-heated large pot, dry roast all the spices (except the bay leaves) on medium heat for a few minutes. This dry-roasting will enhance the flavor.
Add dahl and rice and stir, coating the rice and beans with the spices.
Add water and bay leaves and bring to a boil.
Boil for 10 minutes.
Turn heat to low, cover pot and continue to cook until dahl and rice become soft (about 30-40 minutes).
The cilantro leaves can be added just before serving.
Add salt or Bragg’s to taste.

For weak digestion, gas or bloating: Before starting to prepare the khichadi, first par-boil the split mung dahl (cover with water and bring to boil), drain, and rinse. Repeat two or three times. Or, soak beans overnight and then drain. Cook as directed.

Khichadi: A New Favorite in Your Kitchen

Make khichadi when you are sick, when you are sad, when you are cleansing, for your kids or a loved one when they are under the weather, when you can’t be bothered to cook, when you come back from a long trip, when you need to regain your strength, but maybe not for dinner on a first date.

You’ll be surprised how warming and comforting it is, and pretty soon it’ll be the stuff your cravings are made of.

 

Like elephant health & wellness on Facebook.

 

Ed: Kate Bartolotta

About Dr. John Douillard

John Douillard, DC, has published over 400 health videos and articles that are available on his website. He has written six books, produced numerous health DVDs and CDs, and has formulated his own line of organic health care products. He is the former Director of Player Development for the New Jersey Nets NBA team. He currently directs the LifeSpa Ayurvedic Retreat Center in Boulder, CO, where he lives with his wife and six children.

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32 Responses to “What’s So Amazing about Khichadi?”

  1. Chelsea says:

    A comforting, warming, detoxing meal, that facilitates feelings of inner peace and calm, and may enhance spiritual growth? Sounds like the perfect meal for a date.

  2. radrave says:

    It's poison for me. I once went on a cleansing diet that included 3 bowls of the stuff a day. All it did was bloat me up and put me to sleep. Plenty of us have bodies that can't tolerate all that starch. Chicken broth works much better for me as a cleansing food — also highly recommended by ayurveda, btw.

  3. seo services says:

    oh i love khichadi with the tomato chilli sauce. not as cleaning diet but as a meal.
    take 2 medium size tomatoes , 1 pc from garlic, red chilli and salt as per taste and grind them together.
    have it with this khichadi. u ll love it.seriously

  4. lauraplumb says:

    This is so great! Thank you again, Dr. Douillard, for your most helpful articles.

  5. Kate says:

    Just made this recipe and I love it. Thank you for the post!

  6. Pamela says:

    I'm interested in knowing what is the "green" topping is…

  7. Deb Shaw says:

    *Dhal

  8. I freaking love my green e-cigs and wouldn’t give up their high smoke volume for any other brand!! Woo!

  9. Jacqueline DellaSanta says:

    Love kicharee…

    Vegan, good for the Earth, warms the soul, soothes the heart and reset one’s agni…

    Thank you!

  10. John says:

    Indians are aware about khichdi and every household in India takes this wonderfully healthy food. It's lovely, tasty, light and healthy. Everyone should eat it.

  11. kay says:

    I love Khichadi any time!!!

  12. jyoti says:

    kHICHDI is called sukh pawni means satisfaying food or comfert food..truely said.in gujarat supper is always khichdi so it gives you good sleep and soothing stomach and cleans the inttestin and give good moisture to digest food. ammazing

  13. crpatel says:

    chichi is a welcome dish on an Indian Meal ! Need I say more ?

  14. White rice is as you say does not have as much nutrients as brown rice. It is necessary to eat foods wholesome. Your contention of easy to digest and difficult to digest is not associated with what makes it easy to digest. So it is baseless. The white rice is not a good food compared to brown rice as universally accepted in healthy life rules. In place of split moong, if sprouted whole moong is used it makes it even more healthy. In addition I would suggest adding some vegetables like carrots, cabbage, and cook without salt. Add salt if you wish after cooking with a flavor of cilantro leaves and associated with coconut chutney
    Dr; Arun Sharma, Director, Institute of Mahayoga & Hatural Hygiene, www;imsnsh.com

  15. Shamim says:

    Khichdi is actually split moong daal and white rice. Half a cup of each, plenty of water and salt. Lovely with pickles or
    Yogurt curry!

  16. Hina baxi says:

    I have lived on khichadi for the last umpteen years. Accompaniments as grandma said, ghee, dahi, papad, achaar. Yummmmmy!

  17. Nat says:

    Thanks for this article. I love khichdi and always have it when I am having stomach issues. Usually I have it with spinach cooked in little ghee with garlic, ginger and seasoned to taste or potato curry (with skin on) tempered with black mustard seeds. What I have learned here is to par boil the mung beans to avoid feeling bloat y and also using sprouted mung beans. Am going to try both.

  18. Rick Khona says:

    This is the best meal eaten in the evening, as it is light and easy to digest. In my family, Khichdi is standard evening meal 5 days out of 7. Like one of the reviewer wrote, it is basically split mung daal and rice (may it be white or brown) with salt, ginger, turmeric to taste. If one don't mind adding little Ghee and mixing it thoroughly, changes the texture and taste. Worth trying!

  19. sadrudin Lalji says:

    s.alji, I love making it and love to eat during my supper time. Always made with split Ming dal.I your your recipe and will try
    to make this one. Yellow dal is usually made in chuti khidi. Thanks for all the details for eating khidi.

  20. Kelsey Lea says:

    I am an Ayurvedic chef for yoga treacher trainings, and we typically do a Kitchadi Cleanse for the first week of each month-long intensive training. Using the same basic recipe, different spices and vegetable

    combinations can also be added to cleanse and detoxify specific organs (ex: liver cleansing kitchadi would have beets/greens/burdock root/dandelion root). For more ayurvedic recipes and healthy, balanced meal inspirations see wholebowls.wordpress.com.

    Love and aloha

  21. Karen says:

    I followed this recipe and mine is sooo watery. I put 7 cups of water in it as directed above. It doesn't taste nice. :(

  22. Rashmi says:

    A tradition that exists for over centuries, khichdi is a food of all class of people in India and particularly Gujarat and is preferred as dinner. This food is most nourishing and affordable to poor also. The world has known now, perhaps the westerners tasting this food after their visit to India but Indians have realised its potency long before.

  23. Vithal Nemade says:

    I follow Ayurveda foods in my daily life. This is a wonderful explanation. We been eating this kind of Khichadi in India from my childhood. But knows more about it

  24. Catherine Millary says:

    Khichdi is my favourite food.

  25. kevin says:

    Great article! I also found it a little watery for my liking too. I think I'll try less next time and see how that goes.
    " cilantro leaves and associated with coconut chutney" also sounds like good too. I looooooove cilantro! It should be a nice flavor with it.

  26. Celesta says:

    That is a reallly goood tipp particularly to those fresh to the

    blogosphere. Brief but very accurate information… Thank you for

    sharing this one. A must read post!

  27. I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I’m

    not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about

    my difficulty. You are amazing! Thanks!

  28. Niki says:

    Can someone tell me why you can't use whole green mung beans? I could not get split yellow mung beans.

  29. anil says:

    I like the onkichadi a very thoughtful way of presantation
    anil

  30. anil says:

    kichadi is a gujrati meal and in surashtra we eat at every evening. anil

  31. Alicia says:

    Can you use this along with a juice cleanse?

  32. healthyFood says:

    This is a great explanation of exactly why rice and beans make the perfect protein not to mention a fine explanation of exactly what the body goes through during a fast. Considering the stress our digestive system is constantly under, this dish sounds like the perfect side dish to many meals.

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