A big pot of belly-warming kitchari is often the first meal I make upon returning from a trip or during times of illness or stress. Kitchari is an Ayurvedic porridge-like concoction — often referred to as Indian or Ayurvedic chicken soup for its health-enhancing, nourishing, and cleansing effects — that includes basmati rice and dal (hulled and split lentils), along with healing herbs, spices, and seasonal vegetables.
The variations are endless — there are as many potential recipes for kitchari as there are cooks!
By incorporating spices and vegetables with both warming and cooling effects, this kitchari combination becomes an ideal meal to help bring the system back into balance. For this batch, because we had just returned from a week of traveling and eating in restaurants day after day, I included cumin, coriander and fennel – a classic spice combination to soothe and balance digestion – along with immunity-boosting ginger, anti-inflammatory turmeric, and mineral-rich zucchini and cilantro. Coconut milk adds velvety texture and rich flavor, and garnishing each bowl with crunchy toasted cashews provides a perfect textural contrast to the creamy porridge.
Cumin, Coriander + Fennel-Spiced Mung Bean Kitchari with Zucchini + Toasted Cashews
The grocery stores in my area do not reliably carry mung dal, so I order mine from Banyan Botanicals.
3 tablespoons ghee, coconut oil or butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 fennel bulb, stalks and core removed, chopped (about 1 cup)
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 cup split mung beans (mung dal), rinsed and drained
1/2 cup white basmati rice, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup coconut milk
4-1/2 cups water
1 medium zucchini, chopped (about 2 cups)
juice of 1 lime, plus lime wedges for serving
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1/2 cup toasted cashews
Heat ghee or fat of choice in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add cumin and fennel seeds and cook until the seeds begin to pop, 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion, fennel, and ginger, and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add turmeric and coriander and cook, stirring often, until the spices are fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes more.
Stir in mung beans and rice, stirring to coat with spices. Add coconut milk and water and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, partially covered. Keep an eye on the kitchari and add more water in 1/2 cup amounts if it looks dry. Stir in zucchini and simmer until tender, 5 to 10 minutes more. Remove pot from heat and add lime juice. Season with salt to taste.
Serve garnished with cilantro and cashews and accompanied by the extra lime wedges.