Each week from July 10 - August 14, we will be sharing a new post from a 6-part series about Ayurvedic practices and TBI. Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest holistic health systems. Our contributor, Bethany Cantin, is an ayurvedic practitioner and yoga therapist, who has integrated ayurvedic practices into her life and has found these to be essential throughout her healing journey following a TBI.
Kitchari is a common ayurvedic dish and is known for it’s detoxifying and nourishing benefits. The combination of spices, ginger and ghee used in making Kitchari all have strong healing properties. They help pull toxins out of the body, reduce inflammation (a crucial factor in healing from a TBI), kindle our digestive fires, and soothe aches and pains. The ghee (clarified butter) provides excellent fats for the brain and carries the medicinal properties of the herbs to the brain. Ghee also has a purifying effect on the mind, improving clarity, memory and overall brain function.
It is wise to eat food that is easy for the body to digest, so it can use its extra energy to heal, while not expending energy breaking down challenging or unhealthy food choices. When a meal is simple, like kitchari, it lets the body go to work in releasing toxins from the liver, kidneys and digestive track, and bring healing nutrients to the brain.
Kitchari Recipe ( makes 5 plus cups)
1/2 cup whole mung beans (they need to soak overnight)
1 cups basmati rice
1 – 1 ½ cup chopped vegetables (kale, zucchini, spinach…nutrient rich veggies)
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. ground coriander
¼ to ½ tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin or whole cumin seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. black mustard seed
½ - 1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. of Ghee (clarified butter, you can buy at Whole Foods or make your own)
4-5 cups water (you might need a little more, depending on the heat, you want the dish to be soupy)
Kitchari Cooking Instructions
Soak the whole mung beans for a few hours or ideally overnight. This makes them easier to digest. Rinse the rice a few times.
In a big pot pan melt ghee (clarified butter) over medium flame and add only the fresh ginger and seasoning seeds first (cumin, black mustard and fennel). Let them cook a minute or so, until very light brown, adding the rest of the spices for a minute in the ghee, then adding the turmeric last, for just a few seconds.
Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add mung beans and basmati rice. Bring heat to a medium to low setting and simmer for 30-40.
Add veggies 15 to 20 minutes before the end of cooking time, depending on how much cooking they require. The consistency of Kitchari should be like a thick soup (just add additional water if you need to…Kitchari should be soupy and not dry at all)
Garnish with cilantro if you wish. Eat enough to feel satisfied 1 to 2 cups.
You may want to incorporate this dish into your daily or weekly meal plan or you may want to try a “mini cleanse” of eating just kitchari for 2 or 3 days. This alone will lift some of the brain fog and bring clarity to mind.
Since one’s energy can vary when healing from a TBI, and cooking is a challenging and “sometimes” thing, it is helpful to have a healthy meal around that you can just heat up. So make a big batch of kitchari each week and enjoy this nourishing and grounding food as part of your healing regimen!