The life science of Ayurveda emphasises a state of mental, physical and spiritual balance, attained by enhancing immunity and preventative care. This enables us to live a complete, peaceful and harmonious life within ourselves, and with others. By making small yet significant changes in our lifestyle and habits, we can attain a state of good health. According to Ayurveda, most physical diseases or mental disorders are caused by two basic factors – a disturbance of ‘Agni’ or our digestive fire, and accumulation of ‘Ama’ or toxic build-up in the body.
One way to remedy these imbalances is to be mindful of our diet. There are three Doshas or Ayurvedic Constitutions – Vata, Pitta and Kapha – and every individual is either one or a combination of these three types. One must eat according to their Dosha or constitution. Certain foods that suit one Dosha do not work for another, or if there is an imbalance in any one Dosha in our body, it can be corrected by changing our diet.
However, there are certain foods such as Khichari, which are suitable for and nourish all the three Doshas. It is considered to be a Sattvic and Tridoshic food. Khichari is a one-pot dish made with basmati rice, yellow lentils (split mung dal), a few basic spices and ginger. Khichari is a very nutritious, comforting and versatile dish, which can also include vegetables, other lentils, or spices according to taste and requirement.
Khichari Cleanse and Detoxification
Ayurveda recommends using Khichari as a cleansing medium during fasts or cleanses to dispel Ama or toxins from the body. It is light and easy to digest. A small three-day khichari cleanse is also extremely effective and helps restore balance to our digestive system.
Mung dal has an astringent (dry) quality, which has a natural pulling action that helps to remove toxic build-up from the intestinal lining. This pulling action is much gentler than a harsh or abrasive scraping action that happens with raw or cold foods, especially raw vegetables. The mild spices and ginger used in Khichari also help stimulate the digestive system and aid detoxification process.
How to make basic AYURVEDIC KHICHARI?
- 3/4 cup basmati rice
- 1/2 cup green or yellow split moong dal
- 1/2 tbsp ghee or sesame oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
- 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
- 1/2inch ginger, finely chopped (pitta)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder (optional)
- 4 cups water
- Place rice and dal together in large mixing bowl. Rinse several times under running water. Drain and reserve.
- Set heavy-bottomed saucepan (or pressure cooker) over medium heat and add ghee or oil. When warmed, add cumin and mustard seeds (if using) and hing. Stir until seeds pop, about 30 seconds. Add chopped ginger, sauté 30 seconds.
- Add reserved rice and dal, turmeric, salt and chili powder. Mix in gently.
- Add water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover saucepan, reduce heat to low and cook undisturbed until tender, about 30 minutes.
- Switch off heat, let khichari rest 5 minutes. Fluff it up gently with a fork and serve.
- Enjoy hot. (Serves 2)
***4 cups water will yield a thicker kitcheree while six will yield the consistency of porridge.
***You can add a few chopped vegetables with the rice and dal as well.
Additional Ingredient Suggestions to Pacify Doshas:
Using these ingredients can help correct any particular Dosha imbalance and related disorders.
Vata Pacifying Khichari – Basmati Rice, split Moong beans, Asafoetida, Bishop’s weed, Cloves, Cumin seed, Mustard seed, Turmeric powder, Coriander, Cinnamon, Rock salt, Ghee (clarified butter oil)
Pitta Pacifying Khichari – Basmati Rice, split Moong beans, Masoor dal, Cumin seed, small Cardamom, Fennel seed, Mustard seed, Turmeric powder, Coriander, Cinnamon, Rock salt, Ghee (clarified butter oil)
Kapha Pacifying Khichari – Basmati Rice, Masoor Dal, Black pepper, Cloves, Asafoetida, Cumin seed, Mustard seed, Turmeric powder, Coriander, Cinnamon, Rock salt, Ghee (clarified butter oil)
Dr P.R. Vishnu, BAMS, MD is director of the Sivananda Institute of Health at the Sivananda Dhanwantari Ashram, Kerala, south India