Kitchari is a very simple Ayurvedic digestive cleanse that you can make with just a few ingredients from your kitchen. However, it is good to know the origins of this cleanse. That will give you some background to why and how you might want to add this to your routine. And as we will discuss further below, there are many benefits to doing a kitchari cleanse.
In recent years, we have started seeing the modern world be more open to Ayurveda and the health benefits of the practice. And while modern science is trailing on the research of Ayurveda and its benefits, that does not mean there is no merit in the system. In fact, the system of the sister sciences – Yoga and Ayurveda have long been part of our history. Dating back between 5000-10000 BCE, this system would not be alive today if it did not have any merit.
Having said that, Ayurveda is focused mostly on the digestion of an individual. And if you ask any true Ayurvedic practitioner, they will tell you the goal of Ayurveda is to bring a personal back to perfect health. This is the physical and mental goal that eventually leads a person to perfect health so that they can focus on bigger goals like spiritual awareness. But more on that later. Let’s get into the good stuff – literally.
Why does our Body Need a Cleanse?
The easiest and safest way to treat any disease, mental or physical is to treat the root cause. In Ayurveda, we believe this root cause is your digestive system. In Ayurveda, everything begins in the gut. And while there are deeper lessons to learn about the gut, the one takeaway from this article should be “what are we putting in our stomach?”. In our modern world we have so many food options. But a lot of those options are not good for us. Yet we eat it because 1) we like it, 2) its Holiday season so of course we’re going to eat it, 3) its quick and easy, 4) its cheap. You could also have a multitude of other reasons.
When we treat our bodies like this, we are putting a lot of pressure on our digestive tract to figure out how to process the variety of food (or junk food). This causes an overload on our digestion, metabolism, and even our mental health. You may start feeling sluggish or just yuk after you had a not-so-healthy meal. That reaction is your body screaming for help. The nausea, bloating, indigestion, constipation are all immediate signs that something isn’t right with the food you just ingested.
And modern science will claim that your liver and kidneys are your natural cleansing systems. And while that is true, our society has moved so far beyond a normal eating cycle that we all overload our systems. In return, we expect our liver, kidneys and other digestive processes to take care of it just coz that’s their job. Well, if those organs are overwhelmed, they can’t really help. And we really cant expect them to.
This is where the Kitchari cleanse comes in.
What is an Ayurveda Kitchari Cleanse?
Kitchari or Kichidi as our gujju friends like to call it, is a simple lentil and veggie dish. It is a soupy dish that is easily digestible. The aim of the soupiness is to give your tummy a break from processing different types of food. Kitchari also has the perfect blend of rice, lentils (mung bean) and spices. This combination is meant to not only disarm toxins from being latched to your digestive tract, but also to move them out through your elimination.
The reason people opt for a Kitchari cleanse is because of the ease of making and eating this dish. It has benefits that we will discuss below too. Unlike other detox cleanses, you are not being starved of food. The flip side of this cleanse is that you can eat as much of it as you want within the time limits suggested below.
Benefits of Starting a Kitchari Cleanse
Ayurveda states that during the digestive process, our digestive fire – agni or our metabolic system should be at it optimal level. If it burns too low, we don’t digest well enough. Most of the undigested food becomes toxic and is not eliminated properly. On the contrary, if our agni is burning too hot, the food burns to ash and becomes toxic too. For this reason, we need to keep a stable and balanced agni (like your bbq grill) to digest food well.
This is where kitchari comes in. The qualities that are within the rice, the mung bean and the spices discussed below, work in ultimate unity. They bring about the qualities that cause our digestive to rev up by just the right amount. Kitchari also does not produce much ama. And lastly, it pulls ama from your digestive walls and pushes it out through your elimination process.
Quite simply, Kitchari is the gold standard of digestive foods.
Here are the benefits of a kitchari cleanse:
- Produces less to no ama/toxins
- Gives our tummy, liver, and other digestive processes a break
- Allows the body to metabolize stored fat (so you could potentially lose weight)
- Provides mental clarity (since your body isn’t taking up its energy trying to digest difficult foods
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels (during the cleanse)
- Detoxifies the body
How to do a Kitchari cleanse?
A kitchari cleanse is usually done for 3 or 10 days. You can also start by just trying it for one day. That has its benefits too. However, if you opt for the 3 or 10 days, make sure you get mentally prepared days or weeks before the cleanse. The kitchari cleanse is not harsh, but its mundane. Your taste buds and your brain will get tired of it real quick if you are used to a variety of foods. Keep that in mind.
Having said that, here is what you need to know to start a cleanse:
- You can do the cleanse for 1, 3 or 10 days.
- This is a purely kitchari only cleanse. You will have 3 to 4 meals of kitchari ONLY throughout the entire cleanse. Yes, this means breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Opt to add in a coriander chutney as detailed below, if you want to.
- You can and should drink a lot of water through out the process. There is no specific number like 8-10 glasses, but drink enough. When your body asks for water, drink some. You can choose to add a CCF tea through this process too. You can drink as much of that as you want. Here’s a easy recipe to make CCF tea with the same ingredients as the kitchari cleanse. Ha! Two birds with one stone. 🙂
- Do not eat anything else through this kitchari cleanse.
- Before the day, ask your higher power to use this cleanse to clean out your body and your mind and to help you heal.
- Eat your kitchari around a beautiful setting (maybe on your balcony, by a bouquet of roses, or your cozy place in you home).
- Say a little prayer of gratitude before you eat.
- Expect your body to react to the cleanse in any way it chooses. Respect your body.
- If you are not able to continue the cleanse, slowly add back your regular foods one at a time. You do not want to shock your system.
- Make sure your entire consumption of the kitchari starts a couple hours after you wake up (for breakfast) and lasts until 3 hours before bedtime. So, ideally if you sleep at 10pm you’d have your last kitchari meal at around 7pm.
The Kitchari Cleanse Recipe
Now, I’m not going to give you a recipe of my own because I use a fellow Ayurvedic Counselor’s recipe. You can find that recipe here. However, here are the ingredients to add to your shopping list.
For the actual soup:
- Basmati rice (do not use jasmine, sticky, par-boiled or any other rice varieties)
- Mung dal
- Himalayan salt
- Fennel seeds
- Assorted veggies (carrots, zucchini, green beans, squash)
For the coriander chutney:
- Fresh cilantro
- Curry leaves
- Fresh green chilli
- Lemon juice
Once you’ve got all these ingredients, head on over to the link above to get the full recipe and method to make the easiest kitchari cleanse ever!
Like any cleanse, you want to ease into a kitchari cleanse too. Not all cleanses are good for everyone and neither is the kitchari cleanse. There are variations of this kitchari cleanse that is customized to specific constitutions or what we call doshas. So if you know your dosha, you will know what spice above to avoid or use sparingly. However, if you are not aware of your dosha, try the cleanse but listen to your body. If you tend to have negative reasons (physical or mental) during the cleanse, slowly back out of it. If you feel more positive, energetic, and happy, continue with the cleanse.
Most Ayurvedic practitioners will customize the kitchari cleanse recipe according to your specific needs. We do this to make sure we are creating an optimal combination of food that your body welcomes with open arms.
Drop me a note below if you’d like to connect with an Ayurvedic Counselor or Doctor.
Also let me know if you are going to start this cleanse.
Featured photo courtesy of unsplash.com