Rice and beans, Ayurvedic style.
Meet your new favorite vegetarian dinner. This Ayurvedic chickpea kitchari recipe combines wholesome legumes with vegetables, brown rice, and spices for an easy, flavorful, stewy one-pot meal. Kitchari tastes incredibly satisfying — with numerous health benefits as well.
Ayurvedic food has been around for thousands of years, but has been gaining more and more traction today as an intuitive, healthful, and flavorful way of eating. Learn more below.
What Is Ayurvedic Food?
Ayurveda is an ancient holistic science of health and healing, developed in India between 3,000 and 5,000 years ago. Meaning “knowledge of life,” Ayurveda grounds its principles in the belief that health derives from a body, mind, and spirit in balance.
Each person’s internal combination of the five natural elements — earth, water, fire, air, space — make up our dosha, or personal constitution. Each person has a dominant dosha: vata, pitta, or kapha. (What’s your dosha? You can take a quick dosha quiz here.) Your dominant dosha or doshas inform everything from your emotions to digestion.
Ayurvedic food is not one-size-fits-all. Instead, recipes should be tailored according to your particular dosha. Vata doshas, for example, need spicy, warm food to balance their cool constitutions. Pitta doshas, however, benefit from cooling foods to counter their strong fire energy.
By balancing your dosha with supporting and complementary foods, your body achieves balance and better health.
Further Reading on Ayurvedic Eating
Want to learn more?
- This article from Goop (yes, Goop) is fairly comprehensive and easy to read
- The Ayurvedic Institute publishes a useful list of foods to eat and avoid for your dosha
- Yoga Journal has this great intro to Ayurvedic eating for your dosha
Recipe Notes: Ayurvedic Chickpea Kitchari
This is a simple one-pot stew that is ready start to finish in less than one hour. Traditional kitchari combines mung dal and rice. This recipe, however, substitutes chickpeas for some extra bulk and texture. (I got this chickpea inspiration from top Washington, D.C. Indian restaurant Rasika. If you’re in town, it’s worth checking out.)
You can be flexible with what vegetables you add. Don’t have spinach? Leave it out, or throw in some kale or other greens. No carrots? Substitute with small-diced sweet potato. A handful of peas would be another good addition. Do avoid nightshades (such as bell pepper, tomato, and eggplant), however.
The final texture should be stewy and almost creamy. This recipe uses brown rice, with a 1:3 ratio of rice to water. You could use white basmati rice, but the ratio will be about 1:2.25 rice to water.
Love this kitchari? You may also like:
Ayurvedic Chickpea Kitchari
- 1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice
- 3 tablespoons ghee or neutral vegetable oil
- 4 1/2 cups cold water
- 2 15-ounce cans unsalted chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups small-diced carrots (about 5 medium carrots)
- 1 1/2 cups small-diced celery (about 5 medium stalks)
- 1 large onion, diced small
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (or 5 pods)
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3 1/2 to 4 teaspoons kosher salt (or to taste)
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and halved
- 2 large handful washed baby spinach leaves (optional)
- 1/2 fresh lemon, juiced, to finish
- cilantro, to garnish
- In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, fenugreek, cumin powder, coriander, cinnamon, and turmeric. Bloom the spices in the oil for about one minute, until bubbling and fragrant.
- Stir in the rice and chickpeas. Add the water, carrots, celery, onion, ginger, and 3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 50 minutes (less for white rice).
- Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Add a generous squirt of lemon juice, taste for seasoning, and add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, if desired.
- Serve warm, garnished with fresh cilantro leaves.