The Kitchari Cleanse
by Jill Sockman
Since my September message in news from the blue, I’ve had a lot of interest in the kitchari cleanse. You can certainly find much more information online, but in case that’s all too much, or you would like additional details, here is a little more info. I did about 4.5 days and am still hungry for more.
For a while it will be a staple – maybe not every meal – but on the regular. It’s one of the great things about a cleanse – it resets your palate, energy and cravings, among so many other things!
- A strict kitchari cleanse would be kitchari, very mild/bland or very spicy, depending on the source, at every meal and any snacktime. You may eat as much as often as you like as long as you never feel “full.”
- Absolutes are no dairy, no eggs, no caffeine, no sugar, no meat, no onions or garlic, no nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, Goji berries and other berries – consult Google-ji for others). Coconut oil or ghee can be used, but no other oils. Often kitchari is a one-pot dish, but I like to make the rice separately, partly for snacks and partly because I make delicious rice. 🙂
- I did a modified cleanse. For breakfast I make oatmeal (it’s a blend w/ millet): almond or soy milk seasoned with powdered ginger, cardamom (a lot) and cinnamon then brought to the boil three times. Then add the oat blend. Drizzle with about one teaspoon of grade B maple syrup.
- You can make one big pot of kitchari and eat from it for no more than three days. I like to make a different one each day for the variety.
- As I need a snack on the regular, I bake sweet potatoes every day. When hungry, heat some ghee or coconut oil in a saucepan, add fragrant rice and some chopped baked sweet potato. Top with sea salt and some shaved coconut (unsweet) that you’ve toasted under the broiler FOR NO MORE THAN 30 SECONDS. Insanely delish and my new favorite snack.
If making a separate pot:
- Heat coconut oil
- Add cardamom pods, a cinnamon stick, fennel and/or cumin seeds to taste and stir them around until fragrant. Then add the well-rinsed rice and cook per directions.
- Organic white basmati is the classic. I also love Carolina Plantation aromatic rice. Mostly because it is local, and I always think that is good!
Every day a different combination of:
Cumin seeds, brown and/or yellow mustard seeds, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric and fresh ginger (omit if you are pittified).The secret to any good curry, and kitchari is no exception, is the paste. Heat the saucepan and add ghee or coconut oil. Add any seeds first, until they start to sizzle or pop. Then add the rest of the spices and stir constantly until it is super fragrant. Then add the fresh grated ginger. You can also add chili here if you like.
Optional. If adding vegetables, add here. Veggies should be diced small to cook very well: carrots, celery, zucchini, sweet potato, kale, chard, spinach. (I don’t like what happens to greens overnight, so I tend to add those toward the end of cook time and eat them all in one sitting, adding more fresh greens and cooking those up when I reheat the dish.
Next is the legume. The traditional is split mung, which at the Whole Foods can be found in the bulk section as “golden lentils.”
DO NOT use whole mung beans; they are too difficult to digest. You can also try sprouted mung dahl (packaged and across from the bulk). It is very easy to digest and a nice alternative. The amount of water you need to add depends on the dahl you use. In India I’ve had kitchari served thick like a curry, but in an ashram setting it is more soupy. So the water amount is also up to you.
sea salt, cilantro, fresh lime juice, toasted sesame seeds, toasted coconut
As my friends have many times lamented, I don’t use recipes or measure, so measurements for the base are tough. I like more flavor and depth, so I’ll use 2 tsp – 1T each of the spices except cinnamon/cardamom, which would be more like 1 tsp. It’s something you really can’t add at the end in a meaningful way. Write down what you put in so you can adjust the next time — which I never do, and never have, but it sounds like a good thing to say.
If you cleanse, let me know how it goes. Prepare for the usual cleanse effects, even though it seems like you are eating plenty of deliciousness: headache, GI cleanout, foggy brain, irritability. Especially Day 2. You’ll feel light at the end, I promise.
cardamom pods, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cinnamon stick
ground: turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger
organic basmati or plantation rice
golden lentils or sprouted mung beans (NOT whole mung beans!)
ghee or coconut oil
unsweet shaved coconut
Disclaimer: I’m not an ayurvedic specialist, a nutritionist or a professional chef. Do plenty of research, including talking with your healthcare practitioner, to find out if this is the right thing for you. Most of all, listen to your body, and you’ll start to hear the difference between the cravings of the mind and the cravings of the soul!
Fall is Vata Time – return to nourishment of self
by Jill Sockman
I got my first whiff of Fall about two weeks ago. It wasn’t even cool outside, the air didn’t hold the crisp and dry quality that will come in a couple of short months, but it was Change — no doubt about it. It’s an unmistakeable phenomena that happens to me twice per year: both the coming of Fall at the end of a long, hot summer, and the first notion of Spring when we near the end of the dark, cold winter months. This ephemeral, intangible note in the air was the first message the summer is coming to an end, it’s time to get back to work, and most importantly, it’s time to return to deep nourishment of self.
In Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga, we are taught that each of us is a combination of the elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. Depending on your parents, time and place of birth, karma, and a myriad of other contributing factors, you arrive on this planet with a particular combination of those elements — your dosha — Kapha, Pitta, Vata, in some combination. It’s called your Ayurvedic constitution, and it can be very informative in terms of your habits, what’s helpful and unhelpful to you, and what food, schedule, and type of exercise is your best medicine for optimal well-being.
Regardless of your dosha, Fall time is Vata Time. Which means it’s the time when Vata is most likely to be out of whack for all of us. And when Vata is out of balance, it can feel like everything is out of balance. Personally, I’m a VK (Vata Kapha), and even though it’s warm and humid outside, there’s a part of me that knows Fall is approaching. And like any good “Vata personality,” I’m gearing up by eating irregularly, sleeping poorly, exercising too much, and generally spinning, spinning, spinning — all the while getting very precious little accomplished. (All falling under the “not helpful” category, in case that all sounds too familiar.)
For once, I’m grabbing the bull by the horns before it’s too late, and I actually become untethered from the planet. Do less. Rest more. And implement some pretty simple Rules of Engagement for the Vata Battle ahead:
- No blue screens before bed. And I don’t mean five minutes. Ideally two hours.
- Lights out no later than 10pm and up by 6am
- Significant reduction in raw foods, increasing warm, cooked, easy to digest nourishing meals, on a regular schedule, every day
- Returning to daily sesame oil massage
- Moderation in exercise, and twice-daily meditation with balancing pranayama techniques.
For me, one part of this preparation includes an Ayurvedic cleanse, which calls for three days of eating Kitcheri, a simple Indian meal of yellow dahl and rice. You can eat as much as you want whenever you are hungry (without stuffing yourself) as a means to reset the scales, settle the belly and mind, and nourish and cleanse the whole Self. There are endless ways to make Kitcheri, just consult Google-ji for an easy, wholesome and healthy dinner some night.
I hope you’ve had a playful, restful summer. And I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.