Saturday, October 23, 2010

cleansing food - kichari

Over the next ten days, I'll be eating one thing: kichari. Kichari is an awesome nourishing dish of grain (typically white rice), a legume (split mung - oh where oh where are you split mungs in Lexington - or red lentils), and some veg. It sounds like it could get a little boring, but honestly, it's not too bad since you can switch up the type of vegetable and your spices. I sometimes even get nuts and use brown or white rice.

There are soupier versions, but I like the one I first learned from my teacher. It's great even when you're not cleansing as something easy to make for lunch. And if I feel myself coming down with a cold, I'll make a big batch of this and go on a one or two day mini cleanse.

For one day:

one half cup lentils
one cup rice
soak lentils and rice overnight in water

1 tbs of ghee (I've seen recipes that use as much as 3!)
your choice of spices (mine are usually, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, ginger, paprika or chili powder) - garlic is to be avoided (there's garlic in chili powder - this makes my spice mix a little "incorrect")

one cup of veg (preferably green leafy things, but I also like squash and sweet potatoes)

Drain the soaked lentils and rice. Put them in a pot with 3 cups of water and your veg. Bring to a boil, turn heat all the way down and cover for about 20-30 minutes.

In a separate pan, heat the ghee and add your spices. Heat until you can smell the spices, but don't let them burn (this is a fine line to walk!). As a rule of thumb, I generally combine no more than 3-4 spices. It's easy to get carried away and end up with a spicy inedible mess.

Add the spices to the rice mixture and you're ready for the day.

Kichari is a great place to learn about your spices because the food isn't contributing that much flavor to the dish. You have the opportunity to get to know the properties and individual flavors of each spice. You can use that information later in cooking other dishes.

I'm not a huge in-between-meals eater. During a cleanse, I do keep some soaked almonds on hand for the occasional snack. Soaking makes them easier to digest. As I understand it, the water triggers the nuts to start acting like seeds and break down their fatty bits to begin metabolizing and turning into plants. I soak a handful of nuts over night, drain them, and keep them out on a paper towel.

Miso broth is also good on the cleanse. It's great at this time of the year to take the chill off. I just boil some water or veggie broth and then add a spoonful of miso.

During my first cleanse, when I felt that I had to have something that was like cheese, or the whole thing would come to a grinding halt, I've taken a bit of avocado, sprayed some Braggs on it, and pretended it was cheese. That's not a terrible stand in in a real emergency. Otherwise, it's just kichari.

The largest meal of the day should be at lunch (seems like that's what everyone in the world but us does anyway) and then no dinner or a light dinner. Eating ends before 6pm.

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