Khichdi (or Kitchari) – healthy, homestyle, fasting?!
OK, so it’s not really a fast if you’re eating. Let’s call it a “khichdi detox” – an Ayurvedically prescribed diet that is easily prepared, well-tolerated by sensitive stomachs, balances the subtle energies, and promotes self-healing / self-cleaning of the internal organs. It’s great food for upset stomachs, elimination diets (I’m attempting to be gluten-free using it), and as part of a serious yoga regimen.
Also, it tastes delicious when prepared correctly. The spices should be as fresh as possible – for instance, the best garam masala is made by grinding your own peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and cardamom. The best ghee is organic / local and hasn’t been sitting in a plastic tub for months (coconut oil is a solid option for vegans). The rice and lentils should be thoroughly cleaned before cooking.
You can search for recipes online and find a ton of versions. Just so you have some context before delving in, there are two basic methods to preparing this concoction: (1) Boil / pressure-cook the rice and lentils together with a sprinkle of hing (asafoetida, magic ingredient that minimizes bloating), then saute your ginger/garlic/spice mix in ghee and stir the ghee into the rice/lentils, or (2) saute the stuff in the ghee in the pot/pressurecooker, then add rice and lentils into the mix, add water, and cook until done.
Khichdi may be served as is, with a dollop of yogurt or pickle on the side (to break the monotony of taste), or with a simple veggie saag or gravy. If you elect to use option (2) above, you can also prepare your gravy using the tempered oil/ghee, then add the rice and lentils into the same container and cook until done. This combination of veggies, rice, and lentils is known as “khichda”, famous in northern India (some add meat, which probably makes it even more delicious).
Take it to the next level and mix and match with brown rice, red/black/green lentils, mung beans, and even quinoa! It’s still khichdi so long as you stick with the basic grain + legume + spiced ghee/oil formula. Keep it simple for a detox, and make it complex for added flavors – the possibilities are endless.