What is Kitchari & Why It is Used for Cleansing?
Kitchari (pronounced kich-uh-ree) has been used traditionally as the main cleansing staple in Ayurveda. It has stood the test of time, over 5000 years to be exact, and continues to top all other meals. The combination of split mung beans, white basmati rice and delicate spice mix, create a wholesome, nourishing and complete meal that can be easily and smoothly digested allowing the body to rest on the inside. So whether you just want to eat this meal one to two times a week to give your system a break, or use this meal to do a short home cleanse and detox or 3-7 days or do a total cleanse of 1 months or more, kitchari one of the best things to eat.
Here are seven reasons why kitchari is a fantastic food for cleansing:
Kitchari is Good for Everyone
Kitchari is balancing for all constitution types. If you don’t know your constitution (body type and how your system functions) you can find an online ayurvedic constitution quiz that will take you through a long list of questions to find out. The quiz will give you a rough idea, but to be exact about your constitution and its balance compared to the other two (there are 3 constitution types but you can have more than one type that makes up you, as you are unique), you would need to seek out a consultation with an ayurvedic practitioner. The quiz on the Banyan Botanicals website is a good place to start.
Beans are not good for regular consumption of vata types, or people experiencing a vata imbalance, but the split mung bean is easy to digest for even weak digesters. Whole mung beans are round/oblong and green, but the mung dal used for cleansing is half the size because they are split and the green husks or hulls are removed leaving them yellow.
When the beans are split they are called ‘dal’ or ‘dahl’, also known as mung dal or moong dahl. You can get other types of dal or split bean such as chana dal (split chickpeas), urad dal (split black gram) or masoor dal (split red lentils). The split mung dal is the best to use for kitchari due to the easy-to-digest nature of it.
Kitchari is a Complete Protein
A complete protein is a food source that contains adequate proportion of each of the nine essential amino acids necessary in the human diet. Quinoa is considered a single-source complete protein, along with the soy-bean. Red meat, poulty, eggs, cheese and yogurt are also considered complete.
The combination of rice and mung dal in kitchari provides all the amino acids needed to form a complete protein. Eaten on their own, each of these foods is missing one or more of the nine essential amino acids that our body is unable to make on it’s own. Together, the rice and mung dal complement each other. The protein content of kitchari therefore supports stable blood sugar levels so that energy and mental clarity are balanced during the cleansing process. Something that is often severely disrupted on other ‘diet’ or fasting cleanses leading to dips and spikes in energy levels. This can further disrupt our constitution, which is often the reason we are cleansing in the first place!
Kitchari is Easy to Digest
Kitchari is a food gentle enough for babies. It has typically been given to people who need to support their health, from the sick and the elderly to babies because it is so gentle. White rice and split dal is traditionally used because they are so easy to digest.
Eating a mono diet of kitchari for several days offers the digestive system a rest.
Kitchari Improves Digestion
In Ayurveda, metabolism is known as Agni or digestive fire. Agni is considered to be the main driver for overall health. Agni is the of intelligence within each cell, each tissue and every single system in the body. it determines what substances should enter our cells and tissues, and which should be removed a waste. Good agni means we are able to digest , assimilate and absorb nutrients from our food. Weak or imbalanced agni means malabsorption and accumulation of toxins or Ama.
The spices used in kitchari – ginger, cumin, coriander, fennel and even the salt – encourage healthy agni. Eating a mono diet of kitchari (2-3 meals per day) for several days without snacking in-between, allows the agni to burn built toxins in the body, whilst nourishing cells and tissues. Time between meals allows for complete digestion.
Kitchari Loosens Toxic Buildup
The astringent (dry) quality of mung dal has a natural pulling action that helps remove toxic build up from the intestinal lining. This particular action is very gentle compared to the more harsh and abrasive scraping action that happens with raw or cold foods, particularly raw vegetables.
Kitchari Removes Natural Toxins
Once the toxins are loosened it is imperative that they are removed from the body. The fibre in the split mung beans allows for these toxins to be excreted effectively by moving them through the digestive tract and out of the body.
Kitchari Does Get You Through the Day
The thought of eating just two or three smalls meals a day might seem daunting, but actually this meal is filling without giving you the bloat. You will feel fuller for longer so you won’t miss that mid-morning snack or post lunch pick-me-up. The trick is to be organised and plan your meal time. So preparation is everything. The one bonus to this is that you don’t have to plan what you are going to cook each day so this takes the stress out of ‘what’. The focus is more on ‘when’.
Including kitchari into your diet and eating this complete meal a couple of times a week is such a great way to keep your metabolism or agni in check. But if you do have systemic symptoms like digestive disturbance, skin irritations, systemic pain or other related conditions, doing a 7 – 30 day cleanse could be a great start to detox your body. It is always advised to follow a cleanse with a practitioner, although because this detox supports the body, home cleanses can easily be carried out alone.
Just to note, as ama loosens in the system during a cleanse, sometimes symptoms can temporarily flare up or get worse before they get better. Please consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Certain health conditions will need consent before embarking on any diet change, from your GP.
See additional articles on ayurvedic detox and the 10 body habits of Ayurveda for more information about how to successfully embark on a 3, 7 or 30 day home detox or cleanse with appropriate instruction on how to go about this with the least amount of stress on the body to bring more balance and stability.
Click here for a recipe of How to Make Kitchari.
What is Kitchari & Why It is Used for Cleansing?