Comforting kitchari stew with cauliflower


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.

Basic ingredients:

200 g / 8 oz mung beans
150 g / 6 oz basmati rice
1 medium cauliflower
200 ml / 8 fl oz coconut milk
Fresh coriander

Optional additional ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
Curry powder (up to 2 Tbsp)
Smoked paprika (up to 1 Tbsp)
Vegetable stock cube

Total calories:

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

Cooking instructions:

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.

4 responses to “Comforting kitchari stew with cauliflower”

  1. Justine Lalonde Avatar
    Justine Lalonde

    Hi Tallis!
    First time making and tasting Kitchari as I had a bowl for lunch and dinner with some other fresh veggies and fruit. So far, totally fine for a day 2 refeeding after 7d fast.
    Just a to note that I needed to add almost another 2L of water. It all cooked fine but the spices got diluted so tomorrow I’m going to test a batch by heating it and simmering 5-10 minutes with additional spices.

    Thank you again for the recipes! They are very helpful as spares some decision-making and the quantities are certainly sufficient for multiple meals, the Kitchari even more, as I have a extra jar. A idea how long it lasts in fridge, more than 1 week?

    1. Tallis Barker, D.Phil. Avatar
      Tallis Barker, D.Phil.

      Hi Justine,

      You’re welcome!

      Yes, sometimes you might have to add quite a lot of extra water as it’s simmering in order to keep the consistency right. It’s better to start with less water and keep adding than starting with a lot of water in the saucepan – which, if you get it wrong, can lead to a watery soup rather than a normal kitchari texture!

      In terms of how long it might last in the fridge: mung beans and/or lentils tend to have quite a limited shelf life. I find it lasts about three days, but you certainly wouldn’t want to take any risks, so definitely check each time you return for another portion. While refeeding, your body is going to be more sensitive to any kind of food past its use-by date, and this can easily lead to stomach upsets! So be careful. It’s not worth the risk!

      All the best,

  2. Coconut milk so soon after a fast? I love it in Thai food or sauces, but I notice it is very problematic for me because I have lymphocytic colitis. I’m curious about this rich ingredient. Kitchenee with veg broth or just water is very gentle. And I believe you can kick up the turmeic and even ginger and cayenne in kitchenee, even after a fast. (Thoughts on this?) All anti- inflammatory. Thanks, Tallis. Hope you are well! 🙂

    1. Tallis Barker Ph.D. Avatar
      Tallis Barker Ph.D.

      Hi Sukhdev,

      Of course, people with food sensitivities need to be careful about the specific foods which they react to. Some people react to grains (eg rice), others to legumes (eg mung beans). For you, it seems coconut milk is a problem…

      The point is that coconut milk corresponds more or less to the stage at which rice and mung beans are appropriate in a refeeding protocol. You wouldn’t want to break a 40-day fast with it :-), but then again you wouldn’t want to break a 40-day fast with grains or legumes either!

      As I mentioned in the article, this recipe works well for breaking fasts of up to about 3 days, or it can be used later on in the refeeding process after longer fasts.

      As you say, turmeric, ginger and cayenne can also work as optional spices. But you wouldn’t want to break a 40-day fast with them either ;-).

      All the best,

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