There’s a lot to be said about the value of a savory breakfast—something that most of the world has enjoyed for centuries but we in America have decided to stand apart from (add that to the list…) in our craze for sweet. When I’m doing a kitchari monodiet, I use it often as an opportunity to cross over to the savory side in the mornings, but every once in a while I’ll feel inspired to keep the sweet fruit I’m used to on the menu.
In the transition from summer to fall, leaning into the sweet taste is a great idea in general, since this taste balances both doshas we’re working with. Apples, the fruit du jour this time of year, are even more medicinally beneficial, since their slight astringency will keep pitta at bay but does wonders for vata—when well cooked and spiced, as they are here. Cooking everything in the same pot low and slow helps the fruit “get along” better with the rice and dahl, resulting in a dish that’s creamy and satisfying, spicy and sweet, comforting just like your favorite tea. It’s got the flavor of prana, the subtle essence of the vata dosha we are welcoming in fall, built right into it.
This recipe is for a slightly smaller portion of kitchari than usual, since you might want to try it out before committing to it for several meals (I was not an immediate fan of the fruit-based kitchari). If you love it and want more, simply double the recipe—and give yourself another reason (as if you didn’t have plenty already) to go apple picking!
Chai Spice Apple and Pear Kitchari
- ⅓ cup white basmati rice soaked for ½ hour or overnight
- ¼ cup moong dahl soaked for ½ hour or overnight
- ¼ cup raisins
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon hing asafoetida
- 4 whole cloves
- ½ teaspoon mineral salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups chopped mixed apples and pears
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes or chips
- Coconut milk optional
- Ground cinnamon optional
- Strain and rinse your rice and dahl 2 or 3 times until the water runs clear. Combine the rice, dahl, raisins, cinnamon sticks, star anise, fennel, hing, cloves, salt, and pepper with 2 in a large pot with 2 ½ cups of water. Bring to a boil.
- Add the fruit. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Do not stir. Check halfway to see if the kitchari is getting dry, and add ½ cup of water if so.
- If you like your kitchari on the soupier side, add ¼ cup coconut milk (or water) to thin out when serving. Top with coconut and additional cinnamon as desired.