Seasonal Recipe: Spring Kitchari & Crispy Okra Fries
One thing I love about kitchari is that it favors no season. It’s simply year-round nourishing goodness. Whether the mung and rice combo is intended to cleanse, nourish, or feed childhood memories, the adaptability of this dish seems to be endless.
As a child, one of my favorite types of kitchari was masala kitchari. Unlike our weekly mung and rice porridge-style kitchari, this one was spiced and had a texture similar to a pilaf rather than a creamy polenta.
What stood out about masala kitchari was not the spicy taste, but the homemade french fries on top. As a child, thick fries were a rare and beloved treat. Whenever kitchari was on the menu, it forever led to the question “the one with fries on top?!”
Today’s spiced spring kitchari recipe is inspired by this dish and includes Banyan’s Kitchari Spice Mix, which includes fenugreek, a warming, balancing spice for kapha dosha, which tends to accumulate in excess during the late fall and winter seasons. In addition, I’ve added aromatic whole spices to lift away the winter blues.
Aromatics like cardamom, black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon are warming and help open up the breathing passages. And not to mention, they make the house smell so good, encouraging deep, relaxing breaths to evoke bliss and cultivate circulation.
Spring season is about shedding and letting go of the prior season’s heaviness. Incorporating vegetables into kitchari adds more of the air element and necessary fiber, supporting digestion and adding more of the recommended tastes for kapha season. I also enjoy adding veggies because the kitchari becomes a colorful one-pot meal.
This recipe also has the benefit of including all six tastes. In the spirit of fries but without the kapha-provoking heaviness of potatoes and oil, this version is topped with oven roasted okra fries. Here’s to more green in your diet this spring. Happy eating…happy digesting!
Spiced Spring Kitchari
Time: 30–45 minutes
- ½ cup mung dal
- ½ cup basmati rice
- 2 teaspoons ghee or coconut oil
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cardamom pods
- 3 whole black peppercorns
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon Kitchari Spice Mix
- 1 heaping teaspoon freshly grated ginger or ginger paste
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro including stems
- ⅓ cup diced carrots
- ⅓ cup peas
- ⅓ cup halved snow peas
- ½ teaspoon natural mineral salt
- 1 ¾ cup water
Rinse rice and mung dal 2–3 times in cold water and soak for 2–3 hours or overnight.
In a 4-quart pot over medium heat, warm the ghee or coconut oil. When the oil has melted and is warm, add the whole spices: cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, and peppercorns. Sauté for about 30 seconds to release the aroma.
Add the Kitchari Spice Mix, and stir for about 45 seconds or so to gently activate the spices, but not burn them. Mustard seeds will begin to pop, keep a lid handy to cover if needed.
Add in the diced carrots, peas, chopped cilantro, grated ginger, and salt. Stir to meld the flavors together, about 1 minute. Add the drained rice, mung, and water. Stir gently and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and cover.
Cook for about 15 minutes, then gently stir in the snow peas and continue to simmer on low for another 7–10 minutes or until the rice and mung are cooked and the water is absorbed.
Turn off the stove and let sit covered for about 3 minutes to absorb any bits of water. Letting it sit in the steam also continues the cooking process and creates a fluffier rice. Top with okra fries (recipe below) and chopped cilantro if desired.
Notes: Depending on the soak time, more or less water may be needed. I soaked mine for 3 hours and found 1 ¾ cup water to be the perfect amount. If soaking longer, less water may be needed to prevent the rice from getting soggy.
Crispy Okra Fries
Cut off the top stem of the okra, slice in half lengthwise, and slice in half again, especially if the okra is wide.
Coat with about 1–2 teaspoons of melted coconut oil or ghee and spread onto a baking sheet so the pieces are separated from each other.
While the kitchari is cooking, place the baking sheet on either the second shelf of a top broiler, or in the broiler. Check and shake every couple of minutes to prevent burning. Roast until the green color is muted and the pieces are slightly browned. About 6–8 minutes.
Remove, and while sheet is hot sprinkle the okra with ¼–½ teaspoon of Kitchari Spice Mix. Gently shake the sheet to coat evenly and lightly roast the spices. Serve on top of the kitchari.