In the Ayurvedic philosophy, true health begins in the digestive system. This ancient philosophy is gaining momentum in current research and Western medicine. If there is an imbalance in the digestive system then our bodies become susceptible to disease. Agni, the sanskrit word for fire, is the metabolic energy of digestion - that which is the force behind the digestion, assimilation, and elimination of food. This ‘fire’ must be kept strong to keep our entire body healthy and functioning property.
Kitchari, a rice and legume dish, is the Ayurvedic prescription for cleansing and rekindling the fire in our digestive systems. While many people feel that a raw diet is the optimal food in a cleanse, there is another approach using more easily digestible foods. Allowing your body to receive everything it needs nutritionally while giving the digestive system a break helps reboot and heal the gut. While both approaches have their place in our diets and in our cleanses, some peoples’ bodies react and process raw and cooked diets differently.
Traditionally Kitchari is made from mixing split yellow mung beans along with long grain white or basmati rice. Split yellow mung beans naturally lose their husks in the splitting process making them easier to cook, digest, and assimilate. Because of this, these legumes are known to not produce any intestinal gas.
White rice is used instead of brown for much the same reason. The husks of white rice is milled off for easier digestion and less digestive gas. Although brown rice is more nutritious, the husks counter the wonderful digestive properties of the Kitchari. Traditionally long grain rice was preferred over short because it was believed to be more nutritious, and new studies have shown that long grain rice does have a lower glycemic index than short.
Other than the easily digestible aspects of this dish, some incredible things happen when you combine rice and beans. Out of the 20 amino acids that our bodies need to create proteins, ten we create on our own and the other ten, known as Essential Amino Acids, are obtained from the food we eat. All ten must be present in order to have a ‘complete’ protein. The combination of rice and beans found in Kitchari makes a complete protein, allowing people with only a plant-based diet to be nutritionally sustainable. This also keeps our blood sugars stable allowing the body to relax away from thinking that it is starving and thus storing more fat.
This makes for an optimal healing and cleansing dish due to the ease and efficiency of digestion and assimilation, the creation of a complete protein, and nourishment of a body with stable blood sugars. It allows our bodies to thrive while also giving our digestive walls an opportunity to heal from stress and other issues that impact our gut. For these reasons, this meal is served in India as a first food for babies and a dietary staple for the sick and elderly as well.
Whether you are under the weather, wanting to rekindle your digestion fire, giving your gut a chance to heal from stress or a poor diet, or wanting to go on a full 'mono diet' cleanse, Kitchari is a great choice. We serve Kitchari the first week of every month and would love to share the benefits with you! Come in and give it a try.