Ayurveda recommends kitchari, a simple dish of rice and dahl, as part of a regular healthy diet as well as part of a seasonal reset. Whether you’re enjoying it for just one meal or for a monodiet (eating the same food all day), kitchari is as medicinal as it is delicious. The grains and legumes are deliberately combined for optimal digestibility, which allows the GI tract to take a break from its daily assault of different textures and tastes that we put in our mouths any time of day (or night) thanks to modern conveniences.
There are many ways to make kitchari, but I discovered this combination as part of a four-day monodiet and found it to be the perfect texture, balance of sweet and savory, and use of seasonal foods in my area. The spices used are more warming than cooling, which can help stimulate sluggish digestion, and the creamy squash works to balance the bitter greens. I found this amount of food was just right for three servings during my monodiet, but experiment with how much rice, dahl, and vegetables you need to stay satiated without snacking during the day; you may need more or less depending on your current state. If you’re eating this as a one-off meal, note that leftover kitchari is not delicious, so make this recipe when you have others to share it with.
Kabocha Squash and Kale Kitchari
- ⅓ cup white basmati rice
- ⅓ cup moong dahl
- 1 small kabocha squash
- 3 cups water
- 1 medium onion diced
- ½ inch piece ginger finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 6 cardamom pods or 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon hing
- Pinch mineral salt
- 20 grinds black pepper
- ½ bunch lacinato kale cut into thin ribbons
- 1 tablespoon coconut chips
- 1 square dry kombu broken into pieces
- ½ cup fresh parsley chopped
- Soak the rice and dahl in water overnight or for at least 6 hours. Strain and rinse until the water runs clear, 3-4 times.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the squash, stab it a few times with a knife, and bake it on a large baking sheet for about 45 minutes, or until the squash is soft when pricked with a knife. Cut into it to release some steam, then let it cool until you can handle it without burning yourself. Cut into wedges, then into 1-inch cubes, preserving the skin and seeds. Set aside half to eat at another time.
- While the squash is cooling, add the rice, dahl, onion, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, and hing to a large pot. Cook on high for 3 minutes, or until the spices are fragrant. Add 2 cups of water, stir, and add salt and pepper. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes.
- If the rice and dahl have become dry, add a ½ cup of water. Add the squash cubes and kale; stir gently to combine. Recover the pot, and cook on low for another 15 minutes, until the kale is very tender. Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes before serving, adding a bit more water if it looks goopy.
- To serve, divide kitchari into bowls, and top with the coconut, kombu pieces, and parsley. Add extra mineral salt as desired.