How To Cook Kitchari. ~ Kate Lumsden

Via elephant journal
on May 19, 2012
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Bonus Read: One Spice to fix all imbalances.


If any food could wear a cape and fly, it would be Kitchari.

Kitchari kicks *ss.

It’s a complete protein, heals digestive distress, balances the metabolism, cleans your liver, assists in healthy weight loss and is a breeze to make! If you can make oatmeal, you can make Kitchari.

Kitchari is best known as the all-star of Ayurvedic cleansing. What makes it so unique is that while it helps detoxify the body (making it great when those extra pounds sneak onto to your body or when you’re feeling like you need a break from coffee/chai/vegan donuts/tofu dogs), it’s also nourishing and easily digestible.

Your body will feel so good that extra weight will fall off, you’ll sleep better, your digestion & elimination will improve and your skin will shine.

There are millions of variations on Kitchari, but here’s one that I especially love in the spring & summer. If you know your dosha (Ayurvedic body-mind type) there are extra suggestions at the bottom of the recipe. Enjoy!

Kate’s Kitchari

1 cup white basmati rice

1/2 cup mung beans, soaked overnight (either split mung beans or whole beans)

1 T ghee (clarified butter) Make it at home or buy it at the store.

1 t fennel seeds

1 t cumin seeds

1 t ground turmeric

2 coins of fresh ginger (thick slices)

5-6 cups water

1 t coriander seeds

1 T sesame seeds

1 T desiccated coconut

3 leaves of Swiss chard

1 zucchini

1/2 t salt


lime wedges


Rinse rice and beans well and set aside. In a medium to large pot, heat ghee over medium heat. Once ghee has melted, add fennel, cumin and turmeric. Stir, then add rice and beans and combine well. When rice & beans begin sticking to the sides of the pot, add ginger, water and coriander seeds. Cover and bring to boil.

Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat sesame seeds until starting to brown then mix in coconut. Once coconut starts to brown, turn off heat and promptly add to the boiling rice mixture. Stir and set timer for 20 minutes to allow rice & beans to cook.

Now is a good time to chop the chard, grate the zucchini and chop any cilantro you’ll be using to garnish and further enhance digestion. About ten minutes in, check that the rice and beans don’t need more water. If it’s not looking like a wet porridge then add more water.

After the timer goes off, check that the beans & rice are cooked. Depending on your bean and how long you soaked them, it may need another 10 minutes. Don’t worry if the rice grows soft; it only makes it easier to digest & it stays tasty.

Once rice and beans are cooked, add vegetables and mix well. Add more water if necessary, then cover and allow vegetables to cook to finish the dish; this shouldn’t take more than five minutes or so.

To serve, sprinkle with fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro.

For Vata Dosha: Very good. Can add more ghee to top. Could add pinch of hing (asafetida) to melted ghee at start.

For Pitta Dosha: Excellent!

For Kapha Dosha: Good. Reduce coconut to 1 t and use bell pepper rather than zucchini. Can add any other more pungent spices like 1/2 t of fenugreek or a sprinkling of garam masala to taste to bring more heat.


15 Tips To Cook Tastier Vegetarian Food.


Kate Lumsden, a San Francisco-based Ayurvedic Practitioner & Yoga Teacher, spreads her love for these healing practices in her home city and beyond (via phone & skype) through her recipe blog, group cleanses, yoga classes and wellness coaching practice. Catch her on Facebook or Twitter where she posts regularly on how to weave Ayurveda into everyday life in fun, juicy ways.


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Editor: Bryonie Wise / Brianna Bemel


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38 Responses to “How To Cook Kitchari. ~ Kate Lumsden”

  1. […] because it distills all the jargon of current peer-reviewed medical research and turns it into short videos about everything health topic […]

  2. Kim says:

    Yum… I love kitchari! Hadn't thought to add coconut, but I'm definitely going to try.

  3. elly says:

    Hey Kate, I’m in SF too. Can I buy prepared kitchari from you, or somewhere in SF?

  4. Marina says:

    Hello Kate – this looks good but why white & not brown rice?

    Thanks Marina

  5. Amy says:

    I don't see replies to other questions here, so maybe this is pointless…

    What are the orange things in the photo? It looks like carrots, but they're not in the recipe.

    What can be substituted for the ghee for a vegan or dairy-sensitive person? Olive oil?

    Ditto Marina's question: Does the type of rice matter? Can it be regular brown rice? Would the added cooking time be bad for the beans?


  6. Brendan23 says:

    Amy, ghee is best. All the lactose and other negative aspects of dairy have been removed. Vegan substitutes (Earth Balance) is a waste if money and only serves the vegan ego. Not only does it have palm oil, it is not meant to fry. The same goes for olive oil, don’t heat it up. Orange things are Yams?

  7. Aparna says:

    Re: white basmati rice vs brown
    Based on ayurvedic understanding of agni (fire – here referring to digestive fire), white basmati most preferred form of rice as it is lightest to digest. Specifically in terms of a kitchari cleanse, we are looking to eat light digestible food that is nourishing while also allowing our bodies to digest the accumulated aam (toxicity due to excess or improper foods that the body has not digested fully, leading to a variety of maladies from indigestion and gas to excess cholesterol and more). When your agni is stronger, you are more capable of digesting heavier foods. A kitchari cleanse will help to strengthen the agni.

  8. Reader says:

    Thank you!… I'm looking forward to trying your recipe.

  9. Reader says:

    How many servings does your recipe make?… Is re-heating it ok?

  10. Reader says:

    Yum!… Just made my first kitchari!… Thank you for the inspiration!

  11. […] This looks like some serious soul food. […]

  12. Leslie says:

    Traditional Kitchari recipes usually contain Mustard Seeds…Were they omitted for some reason?

  13. maracujamango says:

    This sounds awesome! Do I still have all the benefits if I use coconut oil instead of ghee?

  14. Hi Elly, I make kitchari for folks in SF on occasion. Shoot me an email if you want to pick a day & I'll let you know more about rates etc. warmly, Kate ([email protected])

  15. White rice is easier to digest. Brown rice is harder to digest & can be heating. In the winter, cooking kitchari with brown rice is fine if you want to mix it up.

  16. Hi Amy, The orange things are chopped yam. For a vegan version, just substitute coconut oil for the ghee. Olive oil isn't stable at high temperatures so you want to avoid cooking with it, f.y.i. Most of my dairy sensitive clients have no trouble with ghee as the milk solids (lactose) have been removed, unlike with butter. And brown rice is fine for winter and the extra cooking time will only make the beans more digestible, so cook away. Hope this helps your kitchari-cooking pursuits! warmly, Kate

  17. It makes about 5-6 depending on how much you're eating at a time of course. Re-heating is fine but you'll want to add some water to get the consistency back and in Ayurveda it's recommended to eat food as close to cooking time as possible so that the prana is most accessible (nourishing). Two days after cooking is the absolute latest that I recommend keeping kitchari. This recipe works really well just cutting it in half too so you don't make too much at once. enjoy!

  18. I omitted them because this recipe focuses on pitta dosha which can become aggravated by mustard seeds. Most people do well to include a little mustard seeds but for those who are very sensitive or have inflammed pitta- it's best omitted. They also require a little more care in cooking (waiting for them to pop) and I wanted to keep this as simple as possible. That all said, I always toss some in my kitchari when cooking at home. Great question.

  19. It's not as digestible and ghee kindles agni, the digestive fire whereas coconut is a little heavy & cooling. If you're using it to do a kitchari cleanse you definitely want to use ghee as much as possible but coconut oil once in a while is just fine. I use it often.

  20. Diana Love says:

    I bought green mung beans by mistake, I'm ready to make my kitchari, can I use them instead of yellow?

  21. Hi Diana, yes you can. Just be sure to soak them overnight then rinse them well before using. You'll need to extend cooking time for 10-20 minutes. Enjoy!

  22. Steve says:

    Thanks for the great recipie. I can't wait to try it. I, and maybe other people seem to think that white rice (white basmati included) is bad because I have heard that all white rice is processed, and therefore less nutritious. Is white basmati rice different?

  23. Steve says:

    Also, just want to check, frying with palm oil or olive oil, as I understand, changes the oils into bad oils, right? Something about saturated fats, if I recall. But ghee or butter does not change when frying with it?

  24. chanda says:

    love! One of my favorite dishes –

  25. Jenna says:

    I love khichadi (I'm an Indian). I have always been making it in vegetable oil (groundnut or soya). I add a little ghee from top just before eating it for flavour.
    So yes, if you are a vegan and don't wish to cook it in ghee, then you can use any other vegetable oil.

  26. Hi Steve, I believe the white vs brown rice question was answered in previous comments so you can look back for that. As for other oils: best to use coconut or ghee as most vegetable oils are unstable at high temperatures and can become toxic or indigestible. Ghee, butter & coconut oil (even other animal oils) stay stable at higher temps. Best wishes for your ventures into kitchari!

  27. jen says:

    I found out that I am allergic/sensitive to rice (weird, I know!); is there anything I could substitute with that would still make this healing and beneficial?

    Thank you!

  28. Rachel says:

    Hi Kate, how many people does this recipe serve?

  29. Steve says:

    Hi Kate,

    White vs. brown. I'm sorry, but I only see Q&A about why it is more digestable. I don't see q&A about its nutritional value.

    Thanks for the confirmation about the oils.

  30. @RWillis1066 says:

    Thanks for the tip for the vegans!

  31. Hi Jen, you can make it with chopped root vegetables instead of rice to have a satisfying & healthy meal. I would cook the greens on the side if I were making it with root veg instead of rice. enjoy!

  32. It depends on how hungry they are. It easily serves four I find for a main meal.

  33. Lucy says:

    When adding the rice, is it cooked rice and beans?

  34. Angie Von Brockdorff says:

    Just trying out this recap for the first time. House smells lovely. I forgot to buy chard but have kale. Can I use that?

  35. Nazi says:

    No you can cook it together although I cook beans first, and I like to soak it too before I cook

  36. Shila says:

    Where can I find mung beans to buy online? Thanks!

  37. Neela sheth says:

    I found your recipe because it was referred by another blogger.

    Wondering where kitchari comes from? My husband’s family is from India, the state of Gujarat and they make kitchadi which is pretty much the same dish but it’s spelled differently. Pronounced kitch-a-dhi. Thanks for sharing and the information!