Below is an excerpt from my book In Your Elements, available on Amazon.
A kitchari (KIT-cha-ree) cleanse is a mono diet to nourish and reset the digestive system. Simply commit to 3–7 days for the cleanse.
If you feel emotionally depressed, physically heavy, have any symptoms of ama, or are just not feeling like yourself, a kitchari cleanse will do you a world of good. You know yourself better than anyone else, so you be the judge of when you need it. This can be done any time.
Kitchari is a traditional Indian dish made of digestive spices, basmati rice, mung dahl and veggies of your choice. It’s a staple in Indian households to accompany many dishes. If a food could wrap you in a cozy blanket, it would be kitchari.
Kitchari is good for all doshas and easy to digest. It is also a great source of protein because the mung dal is a complete food and is excellent for detoxification and de-aging of cells as it nourishes all the tissues of the body. It is the go-to Ayurvedic fix when our mind, body, and/or emotions need to hit the reset button.
Because of its purity, negative emotions lighten and dissipate. We may find that digestive heaviness, bloating, indigestion and constipation will go away. Cloudiness of mind, confusion, uncertainty, or indecisiveness will open to clarity.
The combination of spices work directly on agni and digestion, which helps gather and expel any old, unneeded, unwanted food stuffs. It also helps burn off ama — yay! It will create a peaceful mind as well (all connected, remember? Anything backed up in the guts will back up the mind too). The ingredients in kitchari are sattvic so a few days of eating this pure food will turn your mind easy, peaceful, and clear. If you like the sound of kitchari so far, let’s go into more cleanse detail.
• In the morning, while sipping ginger tea, make a nice batch of kitchari (recipe below) with peaceful music on.
• Have kitchari for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Note: If your tongue is pink, drizzle ghee on top. If your tongue is not pink, wait to add extra ghee until your tongue is pink.
• If you are not hungry, sip ginger tea and/or warm water (can add lemon only if you are vata and don’t have ama) until you feel hungry. Note: you might poop before you feel hungry which is normal.
• Sip herbal teas or water between meals.
• If you are very hungry between meals, have a piece of fruit like banana, peeled apple or pear with tea.
• Do this for 3–7 days.
• Optional: Keep a daily journal how you feel along the way.
It is important to slowly rebuild agni to be good and strong. Don’t say, “Yay! My cleanse is over! I’m going out for steak and wine and chocolate cake!”
No, no, no, don’t do that. If you eat normally right after the cleanse, agni won’t be strong enough, and you will start building up ama right away. Counterproductive!
Instead build the digestive system back up slowly. The day after the cleanse, have liquid soup with veggies. The next day, have soup with veggies and rice or noodles, maybe a slice of bread. Next day you can start eating normally. See that? A little step-by-step process to eating normal again. Note: You must do this with ANY cleanse or you will reverse the benefits and actually make your digestion worse. It’s really important!
----- Monica B's Kitchari Recipe -----
Disclaimer about my recipe: Traditional Indian kitchari is better than mine. Like, Indians just smile at their kitchari and it turns out better. However! I experimented for a long time to come up with a recipe that tastes close. Don’t forget the hing! I was shy about it because it’s super stinky, but it makes all the difference in the dish.
You can also check out my kitchari demo video on YouTube.
1/2 cup mung dahl, split yellow lentils (not the whole green ones)
1 cup basmati rice
3 cups water (for moist/soupy, use 4 cups water)
3 tbsp. of ghee
1 inch piece of fresh ginger (root), peeled, chopped up well
1 tsp. ajwain seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. hing (asafoetida)
Optional pick two veggies: 1 cup chopped fresh carrots, cauliflower, kale, etc.
Wash mung dahl and rice until water runs clear. Heat and boil the water. Throw in the mung dal and rice. Cover. Turn heat down to low.
Crush the ajwan, fennel and cumin seeds. In another pan, heat ghee on medium and add the crushed seeds, ginger, turmeric, hing and cinnamon sticks. It should smell really good! If adding veggies, toss those in with the roasted spices.
When the water is no longer covering the mung dal & rice but there is about
1/2 water in the pot, add the spices and veggies and stir. Cover and continue to cook until all water is absorbed.
This was one of the batches I made. I didn't add veggies for this one and topped with 5-6 crushed cashews. You can see the black salt (it's pink. don't ask) on the top and all the spices mixed in. So good!
Tadaaaa! Serve with ghee and you can add a little Himalayan or black salt. Kitchari has many variations and can be adjusted with spices to be more suitable for your dosha.
To avoid being overwhelmed, just go through step by step. You can do it! The biggest take away is that you are resetting your digestion and mindset to a more optimal place. It will take about 24 hours...and then watch your worries, stress, anxieties, judgements, criticisms...fade away.
Let me know how it goes!