What’s Kitchari and Why is It One of the Most Detoxifying Foods?


Sara NovakSara NovakDCL

I wrote yesterday that I was working from San Francisco this week so I could take part in a fall Ayurvedic Cleanse with Scott Blossom. I’ve made kitchari before, but using the slow cooker and a recipe that’s quite different from this one.

Kitchari is a traditional Ayurvedic dish that’s known for its ability to detox the body and balance all three doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. For yogis that want to cleanse the body and soul in a gentle manner, kitchari provides ample nutrients while pushing the junk out of your body. It’s made with mung beans, basmati rice (or barley in this case), seasonal vegetables, ghee, and spices. The mung beans are known for their ability to remove toxins, specifically pesticides and insecticides, from the body. Mung beans are also a source of protein and the barley provides ample carbohydrates and fiber.

Add whatever seasonal vegetables that you have on hand to complete the dish. Consider butternut squash, burdock root, carrots, sweet potatoes, and the list goes on. The key is to use what’s available locally because Ayurveda is linked to the natural transition of the seasons. Go light on the salt in this recipe, allowing the natural flavors of vegetable boullion and kombu to provide extra flavoring. Don’t remove the skin from any of the vegetables.

The fall is a great time to cleanse because it’s right before the time of the year that we all over do it. Come Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, the idea of taking a break is just impossible. Overdoing it leads to sickness and of course, the extra poundage which we then have to lose come the New Year. By making a batch a kitchari for lunch and dinner just for a week, along with a simple breakfast of oatmeal you can give your internal organs a break before the big horray of the holidays.

Ayurvedic Kitchari

1 cup organic barley

4 cups water

3 tbsp ghee

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp turmeric

1 stick kombu

2 cubes vegetable bouillion

1 tsp cinnamon

4 cloves

1 zucchini, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 burdock root, chopped

Garnish with Braggs amino acids, cilantro, and avocodo


1. Rinse barley and mung beans and soak for three hours or over night.

2. In a large pot add ghee and cumin seeds. Saute for two minutes.

3. Add turmeric, ginger, kombu, vegetable boullion, sea salt, cinnamon, cloves, mung beans, and barley. Make sure everything is coated with the ghee mixture.

4. Add water and cook on low for 40 minutes. Add in chopped vegetables and simmer until cooked through.

5. Garnish with Braggs, cilantro, and chopped avocado.

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Originally Published: Jan 3, 2012

Kitchari FAQ

What is kitchari?

Kitchari is a traditional Ayurvedic dish known for its ability to detox the body and balance all three doshas, the three energies that define a person. Many yogis use it to gently cleanse the body and soul.

What is a kitchari cleanse?

The kitchari cleanse consists of consuming a mono-diet (meaning it’s the only thing eaten) of the Ayurvedic dish, kitchari. This allows the digestive system to take a much-needed break and detoxifies the body.

Can you freeze kitchari?

Yes, you can! Kitchari can be stored in a freezer-safe container for up to two months. It can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.

How do you say kitchari?

Kitchari is pronounced exactly as it’s spelled, kitch-ari.

What is kitchari made of?

Kitchari is always made with mung beans, basmati rice or barley, seasonal vegetables, ghee (clarified butter), and a mix of spices. Salt should only be added conservatively and vegetables should be local, in season, and not have their skins removed.

How long should you do a kitchari cleanse?

The cleanse typically lasts for three to seven days, depending on what the participant’s schedule allows for and the level of cleansing they feel they need.


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