This stew provides a comforting and delicious way to break fasts of up to 3 days. After longer fasts, it is perfect for reintroducing grains and legumes. Consisting of primarily mung beans and rice, both of these ingredients ideally suit the refeeding process. Rice speaks for itself, while mung beans are one of the most easily digested types of legume, requiring no prior soaking.
Although traditionally kitchari consists of mung beans and rice mixed at a 1:1 ratio, I favour a greater proportion of mung beans in this recipe. This is because, after a fast, rice (and especially white rice) often has a tendency to slow down digestion. However, the fibre content of the mung beans as well as the cauliflower prevents this from happening, and in fact both aid the smooth progress of food through the GI tract. As a cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower is also always nutritionally welcome during the refeeding process.
Traditionally, kitchari is relatively solid. Preparing this recipe as a stew ensures that it becomes as digestible as possible, with each of the ingredients guaranteed to be fully hydrated. Although the initial consistency actually resembles a soup more than a stew, the rice continues to absorb fluid after the saucepan is removed from the heat. If it thickens beyond a certain point, later servings may actually require adding a little more water.
This recipe includes a few optional spices. As with all spices during the refeeding period, my advice is to use them sparingly, especially at first.
200 g / 8 oz mung beans
150 g / 6 oz basmati rice
1 medium cauliflower
200 ml / 8 fl oz coconut milk
Optional additional ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
Curry powder (up to 2 Tbsp)
Smoked paprika (up to 1 Tbsp)
Vegetable stock cube
1300 calories per saucepan; with added olive oil: 1550 calories
Makes 8 servings at 160 calories per bowl of soup (350ml / 12 fl.oz.); with added olive oil: 190 calories per bowl
There are two ways to begin this recipe.
(1a) I like to start by chopping the onions and frying them in a large saucepan over a low heat for 5-10 minutes, until they begin to turn a deeper yellow. This means using about 2 tablespoons of olive oil (approximately 240 calories). If you plan to use the curry powder and smoked paprika, throw the spices into the saucepan when the onions are done, and fry for a minute or two.
(1b) If you’d prefer to avoid all oil and frying, then skip step (1a) and instead throw the onions into the saucepan along with the mung beans in step (3). Likewise, if you plan to use the curry powder and smoked paprika, add them to the saucepan at this point too.
(2) Add about 2 litres / quarts of water to the saucepan (containing the fried onions), throw in 200g mung beans and turn up the heat. If you’re using a stock cube, add this too. Once the water starts to boil, turn down to simmer for 45 minutes. In the meantime, chop the cauliflower into bite-size portions.
(3) After 45 minutes of simmering, add the cauliflower, bring back to the boil, and let simmer for a further 10 minutes.
(4) Check that the mung beans are completely soft. If so, add 150 g / 6 oz basmati rice. Bring back to the boil and let simmer for a further 10-12 minutes, until the rice is soft. There should be enough water in the saucepan in order to prevent the rice and/or mung beans sticking to the bottom of the pan, but it’s worth stirring occasionally just to make sure. In the meantime, cut or slice the fresh coriander.
(5) When the rice is ready, take off the heat, add the coconut milk and most of the fresh coriander. Mix this into the soup and let cool to serving temperature. Use the remaining coriander as a garnish once served.