Why Kitcherie? (Updated)
by jane arie baldwin
Foods which promote life, vitality, strength, health, happiness and satisfaction, what are succulent, juicy, nourishing and pleasing to the heart are dear to one in goodness.
Foods which are very bitter, very sour, very salty, very hot, very pungent, very dry and burning, causing unhappiness, misery and disease are palatable by one in passion.
That food which is stale, tasteless, putrid, decomposed, foul and impure as well as the leavings of others is dear to one in nescience.
— Bhagavad Gita
The above describes the three gunas of taste. The first one describes food that is sattvic in nature. As in food so in life. Sattva describes qualities that calm, soothe, and warm. Anything can have sattvic qualities – thoughts, foods, actions. When these things are sattvic they are thought to be at the highest levels of health because sattvic qualities calm the nerves, invigorate the body and clear the mind.
Kitcherie is a staple comfort food from India. It’s known for being easy on the digestion and also being very cleansing and has been eaten for over 5000 years. It’s not only easy on the digestion it’s known to purify digestion and cleanse the body of toxins.
Clarity in the bowels translates to clarity in the rest of the system. I make a kitcherie and an accompanying group of vegetables almost every week. Eating it feels like a break for my system in between any of the chocolate, pizza slices, coffee, hamburgers and other foods I fail to avoid.
The main ingredients in a kitcherie are mung beans and rice. I also use moong dal. That’s my favorite bean. It’s a tiny orange bean that turns yellow like yellow split peas when cooked. It’s very easy to digest which translates for me to a bean that does not give me gas!
Have fun with it. Create a combination that tastes best to you. Right now my favorite spice combo is a simple one: Fresh ginger and fresh ground black pepper. I add a cashews fried in ghee and fresh chopped cilantro to the top.
Here are a few sattvic spice combinations:
3 Cardamom pods & 3-4 cloves – crush with mortar and pestle
1 tsp ground cumin & 2 tsp ground coriander with sesame seeds
2 tsp fresh chopped ginger & 1/2 tsp black pepper with fresh cilantro
1 tsp turmeric powder, 2 tsp corriander powder, 1 tsp fennel, crush with mortar and pestle
Secret seasoning in Indian food:
asafoetida – has the flavor of garlic and onion – spices not used in Ayurvedic cooking because of their stimulating affect on the nervous system (not sattvic). Asafoetida adds dimension to the flavor. It also helps remove gas from beans. Don’t use more than a pinch. Find in local Indian markets or online spice stores.
Fresh cilantro or parsley- chopped
Nuts and seeds – sesame, sunflower, cashew, peanut, almond
Use equal parts rice and beans. Wash the rice until it runs clean and then soak in clean water for 30 minutes. Do the same with the beans soaking in a separate bowl. Drain and set aside until ready to cook. Melt the oil (ghee or coconut oil best) over medium-high heat. Stir in rice and lentils along with the spices of your choice. Also add a little salt. Seeds should be put in before powders. Stir the seeds for a minute or more until they begin to pop. Then add your powder. Let the flavors open up by sauteeing for a minute. Add water and reduce heat to low. Cover pan tight with lid. Simmer 20 minutes without lifting lid, until the grains are tender and the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat, let stand for 5 minutes. Then fluff with fork and pinch off many leaves of fresh cilantro to add to mixture.
A note on measurements:
1 cup rice to 1 cup beans to 2 cups water
2 tablespoons ghee or oil
2 teaspoons powdered spices
1 teaspoon ground spices
Asofeatida – small pinch!
Why kitcherie? Because it’s sattvic, it’s soothing for the belly and as the Bhagavad Gita says, pleasing to the heart.