Kichari is like the comfort food of Ayurveda. Its what you eat when you are feeling under the weather, or overdone, or just need to simplify things. We eat kichari once a week in my household, and this butternut squash kichari with toasted coconut is like giving a hug to my belly and the kids enjoy it too (WIN!).
This recipe is from my latest book in collaboration with Kate O’Donnell, Everyday Ayurveda Cooking for a Calm, Clear Mind. The new cookbook has many more variations on kichari — you can eat it everyday if you like in fact sometimes I do just that ;)
1 small butternut squash
¾ cup split mung beans, soaked overnight or at least a few hours
¾ cup basmati rice
4 cups water
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp turmeric
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
1 tsp salt
¼ cup coconut, large flakes, for garnish
To roast the squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, rub a few drops of coconut oil onto the cut faces, and place face-up on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven.
In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups of the water and the coconut milk to a boil on high heat. Set the other cup of water aside to add during cooking as needed.
Rinse the mung beans and rice well. Add the rice, beans, spice mix, turmeric, and ginger to the boiling water. Keep on high heat until the liquid boils again. Turn the heat down to low.
Scoop the squash out of the skin with a large spoon and add, in chunks, to the pot. The chunks will break down as it cooks. Simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes or more, adding the reserved 1 cup water as needed. It’s finished when the rice and mung beans are soft; the liquid is loose and soupy; and the butternut squash chunks are have fallen apart. Turn off the heat, and stir in the salt. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
In a frying pan, toast the coconut flakes on medium heat, stirring until they begin to brown. Remove from the heat immediately. Spoon the kichari into individual bowls, and garnish each bowl with 1 Tbsp coconut flakes.
Why Is Kichari so Important?
Kichari (“Kich-AH-ree”), also spelled kichadi, is a porridge made of beans and rice. The traditional, cleansing version is made with split mung beans and white basmati rice. This combination, when cooked well with plenty of water, ghee, and digestive spices, both nourishes and cleanses the body without supporting any kind of imbalance. This easy-to-digest dish is beneficial for all body types and all seasons. Kichari works well when the digestion is “off” in any way or the mind and emotions are unsteady.