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Healthy Living Recipes

Deb Morgan: If I had to pick the single dish I feel I could live on for an extended period, based on nutritional content, cooking ease, and flavor appeal, kichari might just be the winner. Grains, beans, and wonderful spices combine harmoniously in this one-pot meal. This recipe is the one we serve for breakfast at Kripalu; feel free to change it up for variety. Using less water will yield a dish that more closely resembles pilaf rather than porridge. You might try experimenting by adding vegetables, such as carrots, yams, or a combination of cauliflower and peas, creating an even more complete meal. Any way you make it, kichari is a powerhouse of nutrition and flavor.

Kichari

Serves 3–4

¼ cup yellow moong dahl or red lentils
½ cup basmati rice, uncooked
5 cups water or stock
1 tablespoon ghee or oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon black mustard seed
Pinch of black pepper
Cilantro and a squeeze of lemon to garnish

Rinse dahl or lentils and rice, and place in a medium pan with the water. Bring to a boil, add salt, reduce heat to low, and cover. In a small sauté pan, heat the ghee or oil and add spices. Sauté spices until fragrances are released, about 30 to 45 seconds, then add to cooking rice and dahl and stir to combine. Simmer until kichari reaches a porridge-like consistency, about 30 to 40 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lemon, if desired.

Read Annie Kay’s Nutritional Commentary: One-Pot Powerhouse.

In the Ayurvedic kitchen, kichari is considered a balancing, easily digested, and easy-to-prepare dish. Replacing some of the animal protein in our diets with plant proteins like those found in whole grains and lentils can lead to better bone and overall health by enhancing our body’s acid/base balance. The small but nutritionally powerful lentil is also packed with cholesterol-lowering fiber, magnesium and other minerals, and B vitamins like folate, great for promoting cardiovascular health and detoxification. If you make your kichari with brown rice, which includes the bran and hull, you’ll get more fiber and nutrients, including a good source of phytonutrients called phenolics, powerful antioxidants that some researchers suggest may elevate the nutrient density of whole grains to the superstar status held by vegetables.

Spicing up your breakfast has preventive health benefits too, as most spices contain an array of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. The flavor in spices alerts our taste buds to prepare for digestion by initiating the flow of digestive juices, which tends to improve overall digestion. Black pepper and cumin are both considered digestive aids; black pepper is a carmative, which can help prevent excess gas. Mustard seeds are actually in the brassica family, and contain cancer-preventing glucosinolates in addition to flavor. For warming comfort and for health, kichari is worth adding to your morning routine.

Find more delicious and nutritious recipes in Kripalu Recipes.