Kicharee – The Comfort Food of India
When we were bedridden and weak, thinking we were going to perish from fever, Grandma’s recipe for chicken soup (or Campbell’s soup in a pinch) is what nursed us back to health.
In India, however, the idea of food as medicine is as old as Methuselah. Tradition holds that there is no waiting until you get sick in order to get well. In the ancient Ayurvedic tradition, the aim is to keep your body and mind in constant balance — to always be healing. Therefore, using food to fine-tune your body and spirit becomes an everyday affair.
With that in mind, practitioners of Ayurvedic healing have developed and passed down recipes that are not only simple — but can also be customized to nurture your unique constitution.
No More Slaving Over the Stove to Eat Well
At the center of all this is a versatile staple called kicharee. Kicharee is the Hindi word for “mess” or “mixture.” Some might call it a simple stew containing fiber, fat (ghee) and healthful spices.
Depending on your doshric makeup (vata, pitta, or kapha), kicharee can be dressed up, dressed down and flavored for maximum benefits. It is the base upon which a tasty and nourishing meal is created.
The beauty of kicharee is that, not only is it simple and quick to make, it can be tweaked according to your health needs and tastes.
At its most basic, kicharee contains rice, mung beans (a legume related to lentils), ghee (oil from butter) and spices. All of the ingredients are inexpensive and available in groceries and health food stores.
The Myth About Cooking Ghee
One thing that holds some people back from making kicharee is the preparation of ghee. People think it is complicated because we associate clarified butter with fancy French chefs. In fact, ghee is simple to prepare and lasts for months. You can make a batch once and have it on hand for a while. Ghee is nothing more than cooked down butter that has lost its liquid.
Patients who have treated a specific health condition by frequent consumption of the proper kicharee have discovered that it helped maintain — and even improved their health.
If you would like to experiment with kicharee and see how it benefits your health and emotional well being, try this simple recipe below…
Kicharee Recipe From Dr. Helen’s Guide to Ayurveda
Kicharee is a medicinal meal and was used traditionally to bring very sick people back to health. You may eat this special dish whenever you are recovering from an illness.
1/4 cup split mung dahl (yellow lentils)
1/2 cup basmati rice
2 tablespoons ghee or sunflower oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
4 to 6 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick kombu (a type of dried seaweed)
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
3 cups diced fresh vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, and summer squash
1. Wash the beans and rice until the water runs clear.
2. Warm the ghee in a medium saucepan; add the cumin, bay leaves, coriander, and oregano.
3. Brown slightly until their aroma is released. Stir in turmeric, rice, and dahl.
4. Add water, salt, kombu, and ginger. Simmer, covered, over medium heat for about 1 hour, or until the beans and rice are soft.
5. Add vegetables and cook 10 to 15 minutes more, or until tender.