It’s been my tradition to start my New Year’s resolutions at the Chinese New Year versus the first of the calendar year. Quite frankly, I find it hard enough to get myself through my every day routine after the holidays, much less start on a fresh, over-aggressive path to becoming a better me. So while everyone else has been planning blog posts and articles on “healthy living” and lightening up dishes, my plan was to post a week’s worth of over-the-top comfort food recipes to fight the post holiday blues.
But I couldn’t get excited enough about any of my planned dishes to write about them. Mainly because I’m not really that excited about food right now. I didn’t overindulge over the holidays. In fact, I ate less than I usually do. But in preparing for November and December’s parties, supper club dinners, client meals and various holiday events, I had so many small servings and tastes of rich, heavy foods with countless different flavors and spice levels that my palette is exhausted.
Even when my tummy is grumbling, I can’t think of anything I really want to eat – an annoyance that is pretty detrimental for someone who cooks food and develops new dishes for a living.
So I’m relying on Kitchari, a rice and mung bean dish that resembles a curry porridge made with a variety of warm spices and vegetables. It’s nourishing and delicious and all you eat for as long as you’re fasting.
We tend to eat so many different types of food, making our bodies work extra hard to digest everything, leaving less energy for other things like fighting off illness and healing ourselves.
According to Auyrvedic theory, subsiding on a single healthy, well-balanced food – kitchari – and only that food for even a few days, we can purify our digestive systems and cleanse toxins from our bodies making it easier for it to get all of the other work done. And the word among yogis is kitchari builds vitality and strength as it balances all three doshas. I’m not even sure what my doshas are, but it seems like an added bonus.
What I am sure about is, after months of trying various remedies, this fast kicked some serious chest congestion I was fighting a few years ago that just wouldn’t budge. And after it was all said and done, I remember food tasting so much better.
So I’m giving it another shot – for the next four days. And even though you aren’t hopping aboard my fasting train, I wanted to share the recipe because this dish tastes so good, it could easily be served as a wholesome, winter dinner. We’ll see if I still feel the same way after having it as a wholesome, winter breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next three days!
- 1/3 cup mung beans
- 1 cup white basmati rice, rinsed in colander until water runs clear
- 2 star anise pods
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 1 cup diced butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 2 onions, divided – one halved and thinly sliced, one finely diced
- 2 teaspoons curry
- 2 tablespoons Bragg’s Amino Acids
- 1/2 cup coconut milk (full fat)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- Pumpkin seeds, toasted (optional)
- Fresh Coconut flakes (optional)
- Soak the mung beans in cold water for at least four hours, rinsing every hour or so. When ready to begin cooking, be sure to rinse the beans until they are no longer foamy.
- Place the beans and rice in a stock pot. Add a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, and three cups of water. Bring to a boil.
- Once the water is boiling, add the cinnamon sticks, star anise pods, ginger, bay leaf, and stir. Lower heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove lid, stir, and add another 1/2 cup of water to the pot. Add the sweet potatoes in a layer on top of the rice and layer the butternut squash on top of the sweet potatoes. Return the lid to the pot and let steam for 15 minutes.
- Remove lid and stir all of the ingredients together. Continue cooking until all of the water has been absorbed and the squash and potatoes are tender.
- In the meantime, heat the ghee in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent and softened, approximately five minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the curry and the Bragg’s amino acids. Whisk until combined.
- Add the coconut milk, lemon juice, and maple syrup and heat until it bubbles.
- Pour sauce into the rice and bean mixture and stir until fully coated.
- Spoon into bowls and top with cilantro, coconut flakes, and toasted pumpkin seeds. Enjoy!
Notes: If you are fasting, you can turn the leftovers into a new meal by adding some fresh vegetables to the prepared kitchari. Then bake at 350 degrees, covered, until vegetables are cooked through. If you are making this for dinner, you can add any vegetables you’d like, play around with the addition and subtraction of spices, and substitute the lower fat coconut milk.
Otherwise, use the full fat coconut milk. It actually contains the good fat that ignites your metabolism, an important part of the kitchari fast process.
I use Vietnamese cinnamon in most of the dishes I prepare. It has a much deeper flavor than the cinnamon that you commonly find in your grocery store. If you can’t find it on your local market, you can order it from Kalustyan’s.
Ghee is made by heating unsalted butter in a saute pan until all water has boiled off and the milk solids have settled to the bottom, leaving a scum floating on top. After removing the scum, the cooked and clarified butter is then spooned off or tipped out carefully to avoid disturbing the milk solids. It is said to have medicinal properties and increases your digestive fire. All I know is that is has a high smoke point and can be found in most markets with an Indian food section.
Braggs Amino Acids is a liquid protein concentrate, derived from soybeans, that contains the 16 Essential and Non-essential Amino Acids. It tastes like tamari and soy sauce had a baby and can be found in most health food stores. Find it buy it and use it for more than just this recipe. I like to use it to replace soy sauce when making a vegetarian stir-fry.
What you’ll need: Colander, a large stock pot, and a small saucepan.
What you want to know: I’m not providing the nutritional values here because you should be more focused on eating kitchari when you are hungry until you feel satisfied. Just trust me that it is packed with lots of nutrients and good stuff!