In Ayurveda, things that we ingest are divided into three categories:

  • Poison
  • Medicine
  • Neutral

Poison is defined as anything that hinders digestion. Medicine is considered to be anything that we ingest that aids the digestive process. Neutral is anything we ingest that gives support and nourishment without either aiding or hindering the digestive process.

Kitcheri is a unique because it falls under both the neutral and medicinal categories. It not only provides nourishment for the body, but, due to its spice combination, also benefits digestion. This makes kitcheri a food of choice for times of stress on the body, such as during a change of seasons, periods of overwork and during illness. It is a particularly good food for a mono-diet during an internal cleansing regime. There are variations to a basic kitcheri recipe. The recipe below is basic, easy to start with, and balancing to all three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha).

Usually available at health food stores or East Indian groceries
2-3 TBS ghee (See ghee recipe)
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 small pinch of asafoetida (“hing”) powder
½ cup split yellow mung dal, rinsed well, soaked overnight and drained. (It is best to use mung dal with the hulls still on if you tend toward constipation).
1 tsp rock salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup white Basmati rice, rinsed well and drained.
4 ½ cups water if using a pressure cooker. About 6 cups if using a regular pot.
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
4-5 thin slices of fresh ginger root

Using either a pressure cooker (much faster) or a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the ghee on medium heat. Ghee burns easily, so be careful. Sauté the mustard seeds and cumin seeds in the ghee until the seeds pop. Then add the drained mung dal, asafoetida powder, turmeric and salt. Stir until the mix starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Then add the rice, water, cumin powder, coriander powder and ginger. Stir well, making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pressure cooker or pot.

If you are using a pressure cooker, fasten the lid on and turn the heat to high, let full pressure build up. Once the pressure has built up, turn the heat low and let cook five minutes. Then take the cooker off the heat and let sit until there is no more pressure and you can safely open the lid.

If you’re using a regular pot, cover and bring it to a boil on high heat. Then turn the heat down and let it simmer until both the rice and dahl are mushy.

You may have to experiment with how much water you use to find a consistency that you like. (The more water, the thinner the consistency). A thinner consistency is preferable if digestion is weak. You will notice that kitcheri will thicken when it cools and you may need more water than you originally thought.

In order to provide the best quality of energy to your body, Kitcheri should be made the day that you wish to eat it and served hot. This recipe serves six.


* Fresh cilantro (great for pitta – ok for vata and kapha)
* Coconut (great for pitta)
* Lime (ok for everybody)

by Dr. Claudia Welch

New: Women’s Health & Hormones online course taught by Dr. Welch, with an innovative approach to understanding women’s hormones and health conditions. Designed for everybody, regardless of medical background, from MDs to professionals of Ayurveda or TCM, to anyone interested in women’s health.