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Kitchari was the first Ayurvedic dish I cooked for myself.
And since then I have shared it with so many people because it’s simple to make, comforting, and delicious. It’s the perfect gateway dish into Ayurvedic cooking! Plus, it’s easy to modify it for every body type and especially appropriate for nourishing postpartum mothers.
The ultimate detox dish, kitchari is so much gentler on the body than doing a juice cleanse, but still has amazing and deep cleansing benefits.
It’s the perfect dish to eat if you’re feeling sick, sad, lethargic, constipated, bloated…and the list goes on. Kitchari can be eaten as a mono diet: You can eat it for every meal for one day or even a week or more. By doing this, you’re giving your digestive system a break, and providing it with something that’s nourishing, grounding, warm and easy to digest.
When preparing this dish for postpartum mothers:
Birthers can enjoy this dish immediately after birth — but make sure to use the higher amount of water. This creates a strongly spiced soup. After a week or two,
when digestion is stronger, you can use less water and prepare it more as a thick dahl. You may also wish to add vegetables, if a more substantial meal is needed.
Nourishing family fare
Also, let me tell you that kitchari is amazingly easy to prepare. This is a favorite dish of mine to whip up when I need to feed myself and my family a simple, nourishing meal.
This particular recipe is tridoshic which makes appropriate for every dosha type. And you can also modify for your own current doshic state. But if you’re making kitchari for your whole family, you can use this basic recipe provided here.
1 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup split mung dahl
6 – 8 cups water (more water earlier for earlier postpartum)
1 1/2 cups chopped vegetables (asparagus, okra and/or carrot)
3 Tbsp ghee (or sesame oil)
1 tsp yellow or brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 cloves freshly minced garlic (optional)
1 inch grated ginger root or 1 tsp ginger powder
pinch asafoetida powder, hing (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
lime slices for garnish
**For high Vata, add an additional 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
**For high Kapha, add a pinch of ginger powder
- Carefully pick over rice and dahl to remove any stones. If time permits, soak the rice and dahl separately for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Rinse each separately until water runs clear, or in at least 2 changes of water
- Bring 6 – 8 cups water to a boil in a large heavy bottomed pot. Use more water for earlier in postpartum. Then add rice and dahl, and allow to simmer on low 35 – 40 minutes, covered with the lid slightly ajar.
- While that is cooking, prepare any vegetables by cutting them into small, bite-size pieces. When dahl and rice are cooked and tender, add the vegetables and cook for 10 minutes longer. In a separate saucepan, melt ghee, then add mustard seeds. Once they begin to pop, add the minced garlic. When the garlic is beginning to turn golden, stir in the ground spices and grated ginger and stir to combine and release the flavors and then turn off heat, as it can burn quickly. Stir the sautéed spices into the cooked dal, rice, and vegetable mixture.
- Sprinkle with sea salt, chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime to finish!
For high Pitta, you can also garnish with grated coconut. After the first ten days, when lochia is reduced, blood-building iron-rich greens like spinach are a tasty and a beneficial addition. Fold in spinach when dish is finished, while it’s still hot.
Recipe modified & adapted from Ysha Oakes, Tonic Postpartum Recipes with Ayurveda.
Katie Calcaterra is a mother to one baby, who brings her so much joy! Making food for people is really her favorite thing to do, so she feels incredibly lucky to be working as a postpartum doula and chef creating meals for new parents. She is also a graduate of the Center for Sacred Window Studies! When she’s not cooking, she’s growing; flowers, vegetables and herbs and farms and consults on gardens throughout NYC.
All photos courtesy of the author.