Kichari/ Ayurvedic health food
First bite of solid food I have fed my kids is rice with some broth from Daal ( like coking water from pasta). Rice will have to be very soft almost like butter, I would add ghee to make it more fragrant and loosen this with some Daal broth.The final dish would look like a creamy rice pudding but slightly savory with broth and ghee. Thats probably what I ate when I was a baby and have fed variations of that recipe everyday to my kids until they were about 5 years old. The recipe got a little heartier as they begin to sit and walk. I started adding Daal along with the broth, vegetables and greens for extra nutrition and spices for flavor. I have always fed this kichadi to my kids with my fingers, mashing the vegetable until they were able to chew. Vegetables changed seasonally, spices were introduced to develop new tastes and flavors but the base of the dish was some rice and Daal.
What do you call this dish?Kichadi or Kichari?, either or 100 other names called in different part of india in different languages. For instance its called as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Thove Anna in Karnataka , You get the idea.. For easy refrece I am going to call it kichadi with di in the end. I knew Kicahdi has ARRIVED in the US when a 25 year old yoga friend opened her lunch during one of my teacher trainings.She called its “kitchaarhee”which is this amazing healing ,detoxifying dish from the books of Ayurveda. She then began to explain that it is the best food she has ever eaten prescribed by another yogi friend named Karen. She started to share her recipe and then its dawned on me this is my humble kicahdi with an American twist. I assumed that all the Indian yoga and wellness retreats has popularized Kichadi ,I cannot complain because it is that good, it is easy to digest and packed with flavors.
Recipes .. There are 2 options here
The base of the dish is simple. White rice and daal. You can use any daal if you are making it as a nutritious one pot meal. But Mung dal is your best bet if you are making this dish for detoxifying and healing your gut. Mung dal is very easy to digest , making it the most recommended dal by grandmothers, Ayurvedic doctors and wellness experts. An easy substitute for Mung Daal is splint pink lentils, Mosoor daal as they have the same cooking time and almost the same flavor profile. I am giving you 2 different recipes here, One is for your detoxifying days and another for one pot meal days.
1. Detoxifying Ayurvedic Kichadi
As this is served as baby food or during the time of healing, think post pregnancy , post surgery or recovering from flu, there are no extra spices or vegetables added. The dish is supposed be pacifying and gentle for your gut. I do not serve any salads or bread with this dish either. This will be served in a bowl like chicken noodle soup right in their beds when my are kids sick. My kids are 14 and 10 , I will still feed them in their bed if they ask me. Oh! but they rarely ask now.
1/2 cup white rice , Basmati or Sona Masoori
1/2 cup mung daal
5 to 6 cups of water
1 inch ginger ,chopped
Infused oil/ Tadka
1 tsp teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp of black pepper
2 pinches of hing or Astofida
1Tbsp of Ghee or Oil ( use olive oil, coconut, sunflower or grapeseed )
**I usually wash and rinse my rice and dal twice before I cook them for most recipes.
Place your dal and rice in a large soup or stock pot. Add some water and either using your hands or a whisk, stir thoroughly. You will see cloudy water at the top, drain and repeat the process twice. Now added 4 cups of fresh water to rice and dal , let it soak for about 30 minutes ( maximum of 2 hrs).
** soaking grains cuts the cooking time.
After about 30minutes, Place the pot on a medium high heat. Let the water begin to boil, add chopped ginger, turn the heat down to medium and close a lid to the pot for faster coking process.
Open the lid periodically , scrape the sides and cook them until soft and tender. You will notice that the rice and Daal are falling apart and becoming mushy. Turn the heat low at this point . This whole process should not take more than 15 to 20minutes. Add more more water if the mixture feels too think. It should be soft and a little soupy .So, add more water and simmer it longer if your kichidi looks too clumpy and thick.
Infused oil/ Tadka
Heat ghee or oil in a small skillet. Once the ghee warms, add cumin seeds let them pop and crackle for a few seconds ,then add cracked black pepper powder, turmeric, hing. This will be quick and should not take more than a minute.
Pour this infused oil to the cooked Daal and rice. Add about 2 tsp of salt and mix thoroughly. Check for taste and add more salt if you need.
Your kichadi will have pale yellow color with specks of cumin and black pepper. Scoop them in bowls , add an extra tsp of ghee and serve .
*** If you want to serve this like a meal serve with my raita, Chana masala or Roasted vegetable
2. Kichadi / a one pot Indian meal .. enriched with veggies
This variation of kichadi has no strict recipe. It is suppose to be full of vegetables, greens, spices and feed as many people your table can fit and nourish them with your food. Do not hesitate to experiment with different kinds of Daal, Different varieties of rice or millets, seasonal veggies and greens. I am only giving you the bare structure, make any kinds of shapes you want.
1/2 cup rice ( use Basmati or Sona Maoosri or Arborio )
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup Mung dal
6 cups of water
There is no rules for what veggies you can add. These are just examples. Be aware and mindful about cooking time of the vegetables . Like butternut squash will take longer then carrots or green beans , broccoli and cauliflower takes even less time than Zucchini and other summer squash. Add your greens almost at the end of the recipe as it takes few minutes to wilt and soften. Here is an example of the combination of vegetables and green
1 cup roughly chopped carrots
1 cup diced zucchini
1/2 cup chopped broccoli stems ( not the florets)
1/2 of peas
2 to 3 cups of chopped spinach or kale
1 or 2 serano/ halepono /thai pepper , slit legth wise( skip you cannot handle the heat)
3 bay leaves
1 inch ginger chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of ghee or oil
1tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilly powder
Few cracks of black peppercorn
2 scallions , chopped ( greens and white parts)… Optional
I usually wash and rinse my grains before I cook them for most recipes. Place your grains in a large soup or stock pot. Add some water and either using your hands or a whisk, stir thoroughly. You will see cloudy water and the top, drain and repeat the process twice. Now added 6 cups of fresh water to your grains, let it soak for about 30 minutes ( maximum of 2 hrs).
After about 30minutes, Place the pot on a medium high heat. Let the water begin to boil, add chopped ginger, bay leaves ,any hot peppers if you are using ( jaleponos ,thai or Serrano) turn the heat down to medium and close a lid to the pot for faster cooking process.
Open the lid periodically ( once very 5 minutes) , scrape the sides and cook . As the grains begin to cook and soften, as they hit that point of al dente, add carrots, zucchini ,peas and broccoli stems .Close the lid again, and cook then until veggies soften. This should take about 20 to 25 minutes. At this point you will notice that the grains are falling apart and vegetable soft. Turn the heat low at this point. Stir chopped greens ( kale or spinach )into the pot until the greens begin to wilt. Add salt, start with 2 teaspoon and adjust for your taste.
In a small skillet or sauce pan, add ghee or oil , let it come to a smoking point. Add cumin seeds, once they pop and sizzle , add scallions, turmeric ,chilly powder. Let the scallions saute for a minute. Keep the heat low , so that you don’t burn the spices.
Add this infused oil into the steaming pot of kichadi, crack some black pepper corn and mix thoroughly. Check for salt and serve.
** Add a can of coconut milk to make it creamy and decadent
Kichadi is best served hot. If you have leftover , thoroughly heat it up and serve with extra dollop of ghee.
There is also this very bad quality video to give I made a while for reference