Kitchari | Meredith Baird

Meredith Baird Free and Native Kitchari

Meredith Baird is one of my favorite women in this city—literally.  She’s classy, UNBELIEVABLY versed in wellness, and only after hours of conversation would it just so humbly pop up that she is a notable raw chef, teacher, author of two cookbooks, with her third on the way—Coconut Kitchen: Natures Beautifying Superfoods.  Oh and did I mention that she’s also an Sommelier?

A couple of weeks ago, over some wine and other likeminded LA wellness gurus, some ayurvedic chat came up.  Then when I happened to see this delectable photo of Kitchari present itself on Meredith’s stunning Instagram feed, I had to ask her to share.

M | I'm sure that none of you on the east coast will empathize with the SoCal "winter”, but, nonetheless it has been chillier, windier, wetter and slightly colder than usual. The transition to spring is always a delicate time of year for our bodies because we are essentially coming out of hibernation. This time of year we have the tendency to feel lethargic, slightly depressed, congested, and essentially—in a funk. In Ayurvedic terms “welcome to Kapha season”!

Although my leading dosha tends to be on the Vata side, for the last few weeks I would say my Kapha energies have been coming to life. When Lacy asked me to write this post, she didn't realize that she was actually the one who inspired me to get back in touch with my Ayurvedic knowledge. I was complaining about my lungs (I have asthma), which she pointed out is a Kapha ailment. I generally have it 100% percent in control, but for a few weeks now, I've been struggling. 

Kapha season = Kapha problems. 

Thus, began my mission to balance things out, and there is nothing more effective this time of year than a delicious bowl of kitchari. 

Kitchari is a staple comfort food of India, the term actually means a "mess" of mixture, stew, pottage, etc. Basically, it’s a delicious pot of gooey goodness. 

The classic ingredients are basmati rice and mung beans, to which a variety of spices and other vegetables may be added. The resulting mixture is extremely easy to digest and said to cleanse the body of toxins. It is perfect for these cooler months because it is warming, grounding, and keeps the seasonal energies at bay.

A kitchari cleanse is a style of mono-diet where you give your body and digestion a break from consuming a diverse array of foods. You eat the kitchari essentially for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for as long as you would like—along with doses of ghee and the herb triphala. 5-10 days is ideal. I didn't do the kitchari for breakfast. I substituted a warm bowl of grains with turmeric and raw honey, but I did warm up to a beautiful bowl of this traditional porridge for lunch and dinner for the last three days, and I feel amazing—and am breathing easy! 

Aside from the cleansing benefits, I think the most therapeutic part might have been the process of cooking something so warming and grounding for myself—which fed and sustained me, very economically, for days. Sure, I bake sweet potatoes, steam broccoli, and do moderate amounts of cooking, but it has been a very long time since I tapped into such a traditional and soul soothing recipe. 

 KITCHARI

Cleanse or no cleanse, this recipe is worth a try! 

1/2 cup brown basmati rice 

1 cup mung beans

6 cups water

1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger root

1 Tbsp ghee (for vegans use coconut oil) 

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 pinch asafoetida (Hing)* 

Handful fresh cilantro leaves

1 cup assorted vegetables (optional)- I used kale and rainbow carrots

A few generous pinches of high quality sea salt 

*A funky spice used a lot in Indian vegetarian cooking, asefoetida (or hing) replaces the nuances of alliums. Warning: its fragrant! 

PROCESS | soak mung beans for 8 hours.  Then cook rice and mung beans together with water for at least 20 minutes. You want both the beans and rice to be fully cooked.

While that is cooking, prepare the vegetables of your choice by cutting or tearing them into small pieces. Add the vegetables to the cooked rice and mung beans and continue to cook for 15 minutes. You really can't overcook this dish. 

In a separate saucepan sauté the cumin and mustard seeds in the ghee until they pop. Add sautéed spices, and other spices to your bean, rice and vegetable mixture. Cook for a few more minutes to release flavors. 

You can keep this pot on the stove for several hours on a low simmer to release all of the aromatics. 

Garnish with fresh cilantro. 

Be nourished and enjoy!