QUINOA AND SWEET POTATO KITCHARI
The word “kitchari” means “mix,” so while I do love my favourite basmati rice and mung dal recipe which I go to again and again, it’s also lovely to ~mix~ things up a bit — this time with some quinoa. Meanwhile, I don’t know about you, but as I’m typing this I’m wearing a jumper, which might not be that surprising as we head towards the cooler weather, but I’m also wearing a scarf, indoors. Yep, my Vata is definitely picking up on the Vata vibes of autumn, but more on that in a mo...
I used quinoa here as it’s a great tridoshic pseudo-grain (becuase it’s not actually a grain but a seed, even though grains are also seeds, but on a technical level grains are the seeds of grasses and quinoa is not a grass). Autumn is an ideal time to enjoy this protein-rich (great for Vata), slightly bitter (great for Pitta), light and gluten-free (good for Kapha) little quinoa “thing” which we shall henceforth call “quinoa.”
I’ve written about quinoa a million times across the internet and in books, so I’ll spare you here. I’ve taken a bit of a break from it in recent years, as in I ate less of it than I used to. Like all things you fall in love with, you can easily fall out of love if you overdo it, but when I cooked it up for this meal I fell in love again. Quinoa is lovely and fluffy when cooked in just the right amount of water, but I have to say I love a wet bowl of stodgy quinoa too — especially at this time of year.
So back to the Vata season again — yes that’s right we’re in Vata season, which can affect us all, whatever your mind-body type (Prakriti). To balance it out, you can add a bit more fat to your food, amp up the warming spices like fennel and ginger (but not the overstimulating warming spices like chillies) and toss in the seasonal root veg. I’ve favoured sweet potato here, simply because you can’t get more sweet than that, and the sweet taste is very grounding and therefore Vata-balancing.
If you like kitchari then you’ll love the 3-day Ayurvedic reset, which is worth diving (or more gliding) into ASAP in time for the change in seasons — subscribe to the newsletter to get the plan.
If you haven’t tried your kitchari with a fresh green chutney (think pesto or chimichurri consistency and preperation), then you are missing out! It takes your meal to the next level and if you have guests they will fall in love with you. You’re welcome.
1 cup (200g) yellow mung dal*
½ cup (100g) white/pearl quinoa, soaked overnight
1 sweet potato, peeled if the skin is tough and chopped into chunks
2 tbsp ghee (or coconut oil) ***
4 cups (1 litre) water, or more
1 teaspoon of:
2 teaspoons of:
Black mustard seeds
Ground ginger or finely chopped fresh ginger
Curry leaves - add to the spice mix when sautéing
1 portion fresh green chutney (East by West page 229)
Soak the quinoa overnight in double the amount of water.
When you’re ready to cook, rinse the quinoa and mung dal.
Measure out all of the spices into a cup — this makes it less likely that you'll burn your spices while searching for the others!
Heat the ghee or oil in a large pot. Add all of the spices and sauté together on medium heat for a minute until fragrant. Be careful not to overdo this stage – it's better to err on the side of caution on your first attempt than risk frazzling the spices and making them bitter or burnt.
Stir in the quinoa and mung dal. Add 4 cups of water, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, lid on.
Cook for 10 minutes, then add the sweet potato. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes (longer if using whole green mung beans), or until the dal is completely soft (easily squashed between finger and thumb), the kitchari has a porridge-like consistency and the ghee has risen to the top, adding more water if necessary. Adjust the seasoning and garnish with fresh chopped herbs or the fresh green chutney if you like.