My go-to Ayurvedic kitchari

You’ll find many variations out there for kitchari – an Indian-spiced savoury porridge that’s considered a balancing, healing meal in Ayurveda. Here’s mine.

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My go-to Ayurvedic kitchari

One of the first ‘prescriptions’ my Ayurvedic doctor gave me was to start eating kitchari. ‘Had I heard of it?’ she asked. I had, but I’d never cooked it nor eaten it; I was much more familiar with the Britishized version, kedgeree, which incidentally is not Ayurvedic at all as it includes (smoked) fish and eggs, an incompatible combination in Ayurveda. (When making my own version these days, I have the eggs but not the smoked fish, which isn’t considered a great choice either. Or some tinned tuna and no eggs.)

So what’s so great about kitchari (which you might see spelled kitcharee, khichadi, kitchadee . . .), an Indian-spiced savoury porridge made from mung dal and rice? It’s considered a balancing, healing meal in Ayurveda – very easy on the digestive system and nourishing for the body. It’s also simple and quick to make, and I eat it at least once a week for lunch or dinner. Importantly, it’s also delicious. This is no bland sludge; it’s comfort food for the soul.

One of the many challenges I faced at the peak of my digestive disorder was having no idea what to eat when things were off kilter. Now, this is one of my go-tos. It’s also great when recovering from illness and regrounding after travel. If your digestion feels on the weaker side, reduce the quantity of spices until things settle.

You’ll find many variations for kitchari out there, and here’s mine. If you know your dosha, you can adjust the spices and additions to suit. I also switch up the spices for variation every now and then, using fenugreek instead of fennel for instance, or cardamom instead of cumin. Or in the winter I might add some warming spices like cinnamon or clove.

Serves two

Kitchari base

  • ½ cup x split mung dal (this is not the same as yellow split peas; I have to buy it from my local Asian supermarket)
  • ½ cup x basmati rice (I like the super-long, aged variety)
  • 1 tsp each x coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds
  • 1 TBSP x ghee (or coconut oil to make it vegan)
  • 1 tsp x ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp x grated ginger
  • 1 x bay leaf
  • ½ tsp x sea salt
  • Handful of fresh coriander or parsley, chopped
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Squeeze of lemon or lime juice, to taste

Optional tarka

  • 1 TBSP x ghee (or coconut oil to make it vegan)
  • Handful x fresh curry leaves
  • 1 tsp x black mustard seeds*

*reduce or omit if feeling pitta

Optional add-ins

Note: If adding in a substantial quantity of vegetables, I recommend reducing the kitchari base – perhaps to 1/3 cup each of mung dal and rice, and adjusting the spices and water quantities accordingly. Choose your add-ins based on your dosha, preference and seasonal availability.

Root vegetables

  • Carrot, cut into rounds
  • Sweet potato, cubed
  • Pumpkin, cubed
  • Beetroot (remembering it will turn purple!)


  • Zucchini
  • Destemmed kale
  • Fresh peas
  • Green beans
  • Spinach
  • Okra


Rinse the dal and rice very well, about three times, then set aside.

Crush the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle.

Heat 1 TBSP of ghee over a medium heat in a medium-sized, heavy-bottom pot, preferably with a lid.

Add the crushed spices, turmeric, ginger and bay leaf and stir until the spices are fragrant, being careful they don’t burn. Lower the heat slightly if necessary.

Add the rinsed dal and rice and stir to coat in the spices.

Add 500-600 ml of water to the pot and stir, making sure no grains are sticking to the bottom.

Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook for 20-30 minutes. Note: If adding root vegetables, add them after about 10 minutes of cooking time. Lighter vegetables and greens can be added in the last 5-10 minutes.

Check the kitchari after 15 minutes and add more water if necessary. You’re looking for a soupy, porridge-like consistency – it shouldn’t be dry.

Once you achieve the right consistency and the dal and rice (and vegetables, if including) are very soft, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the sea salt and fresh coriander or parsley. Set aside with the lid on for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, if making the tarka, heat 1 TBSP of ghee in a skillet over a medium-high heat and add the curry leaves and mustard seeds. Cook while stirring until the mustard seeds start to pop, then remove from the heat.

Scoop the kitchari into bowls and pour over the tarka. Finish with a grind of black pepper and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

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ayurveda lunch dinner vegetarian vegan
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