Khichdi for Saturday lunch
When I was a little girl, Mom made khichdi for lunch every Saturday. Not just her … all of their friends and our relatives did the same. How do I know this? Because no matter what, none of them budged from their Saturday lunch menu even when you visited them.
Khichdi was served with baigan bharta, aloo chokha (mashed potatoes with spices), papad, sweet and sour tomato chutney, cilantro and mint chutney, and yoghurt. Saturday lunches were about liberal amounts of ghee usage on the khichdi.
I was a teenager once who rebelled against Saturday lunches. When I reflect on the why, I am not sure. I was not a kid who got into trouble or broke rules or disrespected food or argued for the sake of arguing. My eyes were on the big picture: write books one day and get a doctorate degree. But the indignant and authoritarian presence of khichdi in our otherwise liberal home maybe provoked my teenage hormones. I loathed the concept of fixed Saturday lunch and as a result, khichdi too.
Mung beans and basmati
I think the universe has a strange sense of humor. Because both my personal and professional life are based on the guidelines of Ayurveda … and khichdi is revered in this ancient medical system from India … I had to bring it back into my life. Khichdi, traditionally a mixture of yellow mung beans and Basmati rice along with spices and vegetables, is the traditional cleansing food of Ayurveda.
I remember during one of my clinical training sessions with Dr. Vasant Lad of the Ayurvedic Institute, in Pune, India … the cafeteria staff would pack dinner for us to bring to the clinic. Being in a room with patients all evening and eating semi-cold khichdi on the balcony meant I had no appetite for dinner.
But one evening, a few of us dropped by Dr. Lad’s apartment where he was eating his dinner—it was warm khichdi. He is an Ayurveda legend, a revered doctor yet the gratitude on his face was so humbling. I realized what Mom had been saying all these years and so had Dr. Lad: Khichdi can be both delicious and medicinal.
Aurvedic khichdi once a week
Fast forward, it’s something I make at least once a week in my home. Our friends and family love it. Not just my yogi and Ayurvedic practitioner community; the steak and scotch people in our family and friend circle love Ayurvedic khichadi too. That’s how wholesome, delicious, and satiating khichdi can be if done right.
Ayurveda will tell you that we need to be mindful of including vegetables that are in season, incorporate the six tastes in our cooking, eat according to our doshas, and honor the season as well as our age. This also means we don’t need a million side dishes to accompany khichdi. Keep it simple, keep it sustainable, and keep it satiable.
Benefits of khichdi
We are in Pitta aka summer season, which means more gatherings, erratic sleep, incompatible food and beverage indulgences, time spent outdoors in the sun, late nights, and every other ingredient that can contribute to poor health, ama, and aggravate pitta dosha. Some of Pitta’s qualities or gunas are sharp, hot, oily, spreading, and light. And some of the ways in which Pitta aggravation shows up are diarrhea, nausea, rashes, hives, jealousy, mental agitation, and intense outlook. Ayurveda will tell you there are three main causes for any disease.
Eating a mono diet of khichdi once a week can be detoxifying and build back agni. The yellow mung helps remove toxins and basmati rice along with moong dal together creates a balanced meal rich in protein. Khichadi is tridoshic which helps all three doshas of vata, pitta, and kapha. It nourishes all the tissues.
My easy recipe for kichadi
½ basmati Rice
½ cup yellow mung
Wash and soak them for 3-4 hours. Then drain out the mixture.
1-2 tsp ghee
Pinch of asafetida
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp cumin powder
½ to 1 inch ginger root finely chopped
½ cup assorted summer vegetables
In a kadhai or Instant Pot, warm up the ghee (Ghee is good for both Vata and Pitta dosha). Add the asafetida followed by cumin seeds and fennel seeds. Both cumin and fennel play an important role in digestion. Toss the vegetables and sauté until light brown in color. Add turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander powder, cilantro powder, and ginger root. Mix it all up. Now add the rice-dal mixture and stir it for a few more minutes.
In the Instant Pot, add 4 cups of water and cook it for 3-4 minutes. If you are cooking it on an open stove, add 5 cups of water and cook on low flame until well-cooked. It takes about 40-45 minutes. Add the chopped cilantro once it’s cooked. Fresh or grated coconut is a great garnish for when it’s too hot outside. You can serve khichdi with mint chutney. Mint is especially useful for lowering pitta inflammation and irritation that end up causing gastritis and enteritis.
Notice I haven’t used any garam masala or onions or garlic in this recipe as they can aggravate Pitta. Let me know how you enjoy this healing, one-pot meal. If you have any other questions regarding Ayurvedic cooking, feel free to get in touch!
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” ~ Ayurvedic proverb
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are nursing, taking medications, or have a medical condition, please consult with your health care practitioner prior to the use of any of these herbs. If you are looking for advice from a trained yogi and ayurvedic practitioner, contact me here.
Image credit: By spurekar – Khichadi, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89967349
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