Updated: Apr 8
I had the pleasure of spending a large portion of my early childhood with two East Indian families. The mother of one of the families looked after me while my mother was at work. She had seven children, and because I was an only child at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed having so many playmates. She was also an avid cook, and introduced me to a wide array of delicious Indian foods that I crave to this day.
Many years later, when I discovered and healed my body through the practice of Ayurveda (an East Indian healing system), I learned that many of these delicious foods had the power to heal. I'd like to think of kichadis as nutritious Indian comfort food. It is a nourishing stew that is heavily used in different types of Ayurvedic cleansing programs (such as pancha karma) and typically consists of brown rice, herbs, veggies and split mung dal, which we call lentils.
There are many types of kichadis that are prepared for specific healing goals such as warming or cooling the body, improving digestion, healing the kidneys or liver, etc. I'm sharing one of my recipes for a kichadi that nourishes the liver and gallbladder. Our liver is extremely sensitive to emotions and is most affected by imbalanced emotions. From a broader perspective, our liver rules our ability to plan our lives and our gallbladder rules our capacity to make decisions. I tend to prepare this dish as my "fasting food" at the change of each season to help cleanse and rejuvenate my body, mind and emotions.
I rarely fast without food. The body needs nourishment and kichadi will energize and sustain us during a nourishing cleanse of our liver and gallbladder. It can be eaten several times throughout the day, is very easy to digest and will be a very healthy, mild diuretic/laxative. When we eat the same healing foods for several days in a row, we energize our bodies to begin the cleansing process. To be effective, we need to eat kichadi for at least 3 days (perferably 5 days in a row). I typically make a large crock pot of kichadi, and when I've eaten it all, I make another large pot and continue until I feel like the cleansing process is complete. I generally eat kichadi for at least 5 days, but I've gone as long as several months on different types kichadi and salads (a useful strategy during flu season, a pandemic, times of extreme stress, etc.). Use organic ingredients where possible.
1 bunch of broccoli and/or 1 bunch of dino (lacinato) kale, collards or dandelion greens, rinsed and chopped (if using dandelion greens, they will be bitter; use sparingly or use dandelion root)
1 carrot or parsnip, sliced
1 cup of amaranth (soaked for 6 hours, rinsed and drained)
1/3 cup yellow lentils (also called yellow mung dal)
6 inch slice of burdock root, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
½ tsp. black mustard seeds
2 turmeric roots, thinly sliced or 1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 TSP ginger root, shredded or 1 tsp. ginger powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 stick kombu (rinsed)
1 TSP coriander powder
8 cups of distilled water
Stove Top Method
Place cumin, coriander and mustard seeds in a large saucepan over low heat. Dry roast, stirring frequently until the mustard seeds pop. Cumin roasts very quickly, so I recommend want to dry roasting it separately. Add the turmeric and beans and sauté for 30 seconds. Add 6 cups of water, amaranth, kombu, burdock, ginger and dandelion root and bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for an hour until amaranth is cooked (amaranth will get thick and sticky so stir often). Add the remaining water, carrot, broccoli, greens, sea salt and coriander powder. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes or until broccoli to reached the desired texture.
Crock Pot Method
Turn crockpot on high and add 6 cups of water and all spices. Use coriander and mustard powder instead of seeds (or roast them as listed above and add to crockpot). Add all ingredients except the broccoli, carrots and greens. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or until amaranth and yellow dal are cooked. Stir each hour to keep amaranth from sticking. Turn the crock pot to low, add fresh vegetables, additional water if needed and simmer for an hour or until greens have wilted and cooked to the desired texture.
Kichadi will be delicious and effective even without all of the ingredients above (feel free to add other veggies that appeal to you), so don't let a missing ingredient prevent the creation of this healing stew.