It’s cleansing time. For those who do not want to do an extreme fast or juice fast or whose constitution is too weak, a mono–diet (this is all you eat, 3 meals a day) of Kichari for 3 to 10 days gives your digestive system a bit of a break. You can also steam up greens and serve them with your Kichari. If you want to put a bit of lemon juice on your greens, feel free, but remember the idea is to keep your diet simple. This is a simple yet tasty dish that is complete in nutrition. It has been called the “food of the Gods”. You can also water it down and make it more soupy to give yourself a sense of variety. You can also make Kichari part of your regular menu as well as it tastes really yummy.
Mung beans: 1 cup
Brown rice: 1 cup
Rock or dechlorinated sea salt, or Himalayan salt: ½ to 1 tsp
Coriander seeds (finely ground ~1/2 tbsp): 1 tablespoon
Cumin seeds (finely ground ~1/2 tbsp): 1 tablespoon
Turmeric root powder: 1 tablespoon
Ghee (or sesame oil): 1 tablespoon
Water: 3–4 cups, depending on desired thickness
Cook the mung beans and rice together. Recipe calls for sautéing the salt and spices in ghee (clarified butter) or sesame oil until they achieve a fine odor and flavor and then stir in the mung beans and rice and serve. But I like to just add the spices directly to the boiling pot half way through the cooking process. I just find it easier. Cook for about 45 minutes or until there is no more water. Use more water if you want a soupier consistency.
More on Kichari
The basic kichari, also called mung dahl and rice in East Indian restaurants, is itself very versatile. For the Indians it is considered the most perfect food. The rice and mung beans represent a perfect combination of life–sustaining protein and carbohydrates. The whole salt supplies added trace minerals the body needs to properly use other nutrients. And the 3 spices used each have unique therapeutic properties that aid digestion and prevent food and other stagnations from occurring. The subtle combination of the five flavors, which activates each of the internal organic processes, may be even more important than the nutritional content of food. Coriander and cumin seeds have warm, spicy energy and benefit the lungs and spleen for better assimilation and transformation of food into energy. Turmeric, with its bitter and spicy flavors, is well known in TCM for its liver detoxifying, and blood and Qi (vital energy) circulating properties that help to prevent stagnation and relieve pain.
There are innumerable variations that can further alter and possibly contribute to its therapeutic value. The first and most obvious choice is to have it thick or more like a thin soup or porridge. Next, one can add a variety of vegetables, such as green leafy vegetables, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, and so forth, to make more of a stew. One or 2 tablespoons of yogurt can also be added when it is served and has cooled down a bit. The yogurt adds flavor and texture, as well as important nutrients, such as calcium. Yogurt, the fermented food of India, is a more easily assimilated form of milk and supplements calcium and important beneficial intestinal bacteria. If there is a need for more yang warmth and pungency, one can add a dash of red or black pepper, or ginger. One can be very creative with the basic kichari recipe and still preserve its essential therapeutic value.
Source: Tierra, Michael. (1998). The Way of Chinese Herbs. New York: Pocket Books. pp 90–91.