Kitchari (kitch-ah-ree), a comfort food originating from India, is made with a lentils or “dal” (typically mung beans) combined with basmati rice, spices, various vegetables, lime and cilantro leaves. The word “kitchari” actually means mess, referring to the porridge-type nature of the dish. It is a warm, delicious and satisfying dish, but beyond taste it is packed with protein and nutrition that can sufficiently nourish your body for long periods of time.
India’s ancient Ayurveda is the oldest known medical practice in the world. The kitchari cleanse is an Ayurvedic home remedy or mono-diet for detoxifying the digestive system. A mono-diet is defined as a limited diversity in food consumed for a number of days. Through this simplification of diet, the digestive system is given a well-deserved rest, as the demand to produce multiple enzymes to break down different meats and processed foods are eliminated.
The kitchari is eaten two to three meals a day without consuming anything in between. Some allow for seasonal fruit as a snack, but others promote a more rigid approach of fasting in between meals. I chose the latter, and while restorative, fasting is very challenging and eye-opening to the many habits and dependencies I had in my daily diet.
After a delightful two-hour yoga practice, I rush home to make my first pot of kitchari. My brain is already rationalizing and building a case against this diet. I nervously dive in, and cook my first pot using red lentils. I figured since I grew up eating red lentils it would be an old, familiar meal. Sure enough, my belly was full and all was calm.
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