Kichari: A Gentle, Nourishing Cleanse
Working on the Vishuddhi chakra asks us to consider purifying our lives on all levels, so that we can centre ourselves in a place of truth and speak and act accordingly. One fantastic way to connect with this energy is to nourish yourself with a short detoxification strategy and some happy downtime.
The idea of ‘detoxing’ can feel overwhelming, since we tend to associate a ‘cleanse’ with hard work, bland foods, complicated regimes and total restriction! The Ayurvedic concept of purification is quite different – no need for an expensive juicer or supplements here!
Rather, a traditional Ayurvedic ‘detox’ centres around three days of warm and nourishing Khichari – a delicious lentil and rice stew that is easy to prepare and an absolute joy to eat. Eat as much or as little Khichari as you are inclined over your three days. Add steamed vegetables, fresh seasonal fruit, spring water and herbal teas to the equation and you have a simple, achievable and enjoyable ‘cleanse’ that will leave you feeling refreshed and renewed.
Why is Khichari so special? It’s the ultimate comfort food of India, and is so nutritious and easy to digest and assimilate that it is frequently used as a first food for babies and to nourish the sick and elderly. The components of Khichari combine to create complete proteins, meaning that you will be free from experiencing the blood sugar highs and lows commonly associated with detoxification programs. When we eat Khichari, we are offering our gut a food that heals and soothes digestion. Further, the spices used in Khichari are nourishing and cleansing to all body types and constitutions, making it universally appropriate.
This recipe makes enough Khichari for 3-4 serves. It is best to prepare a fresh batch each morning and feast as you please through the day.
1 cup split yellow mung dahl, soaked overnight in water and rinsed thoroughly
½ cup basmati rice, washed and rinsed thoroughly
2 tablespoons ghee
1 tablespoon fresh, grated ginger
1 teaspoon of each: black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and turmeric powder
½ teaspoon of each: coriander powder, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds
7 cups of pure water
Himilayan salt, fresh coriander leaves and steamed vegetables of your choice to serve
1.Melt the ghee in a large pot and add all your spices (except fresh coriander). Saute and stir gently until the spices are fragrant
2.Add the dahl and rice, stirring gently to fully coat them with ghee and spices
3.Add water, and bring the pot to the boil for 10 minutes
4.Reduce to the lowest heat setting, cover the pot and simmer for 30-40 minutes until your stew is soft. Keep your eye on the pot, as you may need to add more water throughout the cooking process.
5.To serve, add Himilayan salt and coriander leaves to taste, and plate with your favourite steamed vegetables
6.Perhaps most importantly, savour your stew slowly and mindfully – remember, this cleanse is done in the spirit of gentleness and rest!