Gentle Morning Kitchari


One of my favourite dishes in New York City is a gentle rice and lentil dish at ABCV called kitchari. Kitchari, a traditional Ayurvedic dish, means mixture, usually of two grains - yellow mung dal and basmati rice - and soothingly spiced with cleansing and detoxifying spices such as turmeric and fresh ginger. This bowl of grainy goodness is really my ideal breakfast. 

When I opened my friend Gena Hamshaw's new book Power Plates, my eyes immediately fell to her Gentle Morning Kitchari recipe. I had never made this breakie favourite at home before, but this was all about to change. Gena's recipe is equal parts delicious and nutritious. And best of all, it takes about 20 minutes to make. I used basmati rice and red split lentils which are faster cooking.

Power Plates, like Gena's blog, The Full Helping, has proved a big inspiration for me lately. I'm not vegan but Gena's creative, full-flavoured plant-based recipes have inspired me to eat dairy-free more often. The book reflects Gena's unpretentious approach to vegan food, a brilliant resource for those looking for hearty plant-based recipes without fuss or labels. 

Gena has generously allowed me to share her kitchari recipe here. Hope you enjoy this lovely bowl, for gentle mornings (or evenings!).


Gentle Morning Kitchari

Words and recipe by Gena Hamshaw.

This recipe is extracted from Power Plates: 100 Nutritionally Balanced, One-Dish Vegan Meals, published by Ten Speed Press. 

If I could eat one thing for breakfast every day, it might be kitchari, a gently spiced rice and lentil dish that holds a cherished place in Indian cooking. Also known as khichdi, the dish varies from region to region, but it’s nearly always a combination of basmati rice and dal (dried split peas or lentils, which can be found at Indian grocers or well-stocked health foods stores). White basmati or long-grain rice will yield the best results, but if you don’t have either on hand, quinoa is a good substitute.

Makes 4-6 Servings

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 white or yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon finely grated or minced fresh ginger, or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
3⁄4 cup (140 g) white basmati or jasmine rice, rinsed
1 cup (200 g) dried moong dal, toor dal, urad dal, or red lentils
1 tsp ground turmeric
1⁄4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
1⁄4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 cups (950 ml) low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups (475 ml) water

Optional toppings: Lemon wedges, chopped fresh cilantro, melted coconut oil for drizzling

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the mustard and cumin seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until the seeds begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Add the onion, carrots, and ginger and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is tender and translucent. 

Stir in the rice, dal, turmeric, cloves, salt, pepper, broth, and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, stir well, and then simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes, until the texture resembles porridge (for a soupier texture, decrease the cooking time, and for a thicker texture, cook it a bit longer). Taste and adjust the seasonings if desired. Serve with your toppings of choice.