French Lentil and Green Bean Kitchari is an Easy One-Pot Meal
Kitchari is a healing one-pot meal from the Ayurvedic tradition that is easy to digest, is suitable for all body types, and provides all the nutrients you need. You can eat kitchari for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or all three!).
French lentil and green bean kitchari is a fresher, lighter version of kitchari that is perfect for early spring or anytime you want to lighten up your meals. You may want to add some fresh thyme and fresh spinach to make it extra fresh and green.
Traditionally, kitchari is made with mung beans (or moong dal) and basmati rice, seasoned with ginger, turmeric, ghee, and various other spices (chosen to balance your condition), and cooked all together in one pot.
Kitchari literally means “mixture” and refers to the combination of rice and beans cooked together in the dish. It is thought that when beans (or lentils) and rice are cooked together with spices and oil they are more digestible than when cooked separately and put together afterwards.
“Kitchari Cleanse” is Ayurvedic Healing Practice
There is a practice in Ayurveda of going on a “kitchari cleanse” over the course of 3-4 days in order to gently nourish and heal (or “reset”) your body’s systems, also bringing balance to the three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha).
It has the effects of soothing digestion, cleansing the liver, gallbladder, and kidneys, releasing fat soluble toxins, and stabilizing blood sugar.
This is why kitchari is such a perfect food for anyone who is sick, recovering from surgery, pregnant or nursing, or trying to boost their immune system
Including the 6 Tastes in Ayurvedic Kitchari
In Ayurvedic cooking, attention is paid to including the six tastes in every meal – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent.
In my French lentil and green bean kitchari, I keep the herbs and spices simple, using fresh ginger, fresh or dried turmeric, mustard seeds, and fresh cilantro.
The ginger, turmeric, mustard seeds, and cilantro offer pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes to balance out the sweet and salty flavors of the French lentils, green beans, and rice seasoned with salt. Add a squeeze of lemon at the end to give a little sour accent and your 6 tastes are represented!
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 1 cup French lentils, soaked at least 1 hour (or overnight), then drained*
- 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder or 2 teaspoons fresh turmeric, peeled and grated
- 3 cups spring or filtered water
- 1½ teaspoon sea salt
- a few grinds of black pepper
- 2 cups green beans, tough ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1 teaspoon tamari (optional)
- fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, chopped, for garnish
- 1 lemon, cut in wedges, for garnish
- Heat medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan or enamel-coated cast iron on medium heat for 1-2 minutes, then add olive oil and mustard seed. Turn heat to low, cover with splatter screen or lid, and let mustard seeds simmer and pop for about 1 minute.
- Add lentils, rice, ginger, turmeric, water, salt, and pepper. Turn heat to medium or medium-high, cover, and bring to a boil. Watch carefully so it does not boil over.
- Add green beans (do not stir), cover, and turn to low.
- Let simmer 15 minutes, then turn off heat and let sit covered for another 5 minutes. This will ensure that all of the liquid is absorbed.
- Remove lid, fluff with a fork, and taste for seasonings. Add a dash of tamari or a drizzle of olive oil if needed.
- Serve in bowls garnished with cilantro and lemon. If reheating some for leftovers, always add something fresh like some chopped kale, baby spinach, or fresh cilantro.
How do you spell “kitchari?”
You’ll encounter all kinds of different spellings for kitchari. I think the reason for all the variations is because they are all phonetic spellings of the original Sanskrit word. Here are the ones I have seen:
Try different versions of kitchari using different grains, beans or lentils, vegetables, and herbs and spices. You can also vary the amount of water to make a drier kitchari or a soupier kitchari. Some of my favorites are:
- Quinoa and Mung Bean Kitchadi with Vegetables, Turmeric, and Ginger (soft texture)
- Tri-Doshic Kitchari with Rice, Split Mung Bean (Moong Dal), and Spices from Wild Sun Wellness (soupy texture)
- Classic Kitchari from the Ayurvedic Institute
- Butternut Kitchari (a sweet version) from Kate O’Donnell