A day filled with an abundance of sunshine and warmth, yesterday saw twenty of us gather for a retreat day deep in the Somerset countryside. By weaving together the ancient arts of Yoga (with Emma Gliddon of Do Yoga) and Sacred chant (my path), we co-created a beautiful healing space where these sister sciences cleared, balanced and strengthened us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I prepared a “Kichari” for lunch and for many this was their first experience of eating Ayurvedically.
Yogi Amrit Desai, founder of the Kripalu Center in the United States describes Ayurveda thus:- “The science of Ayurveda, like the science of yoga, was inspired and developed by the great masters and seers of ancient India. The origins of Ayurveda and yoga have common roots and play a complimentary role in spiritual evolution and the maintenance of physical well-being and vitality. Ayurveda is said to be the oldest science of life, a system of diet, healing and health maintenance that is deeply spiritual in origin. Ayurveda is not confined to the healing of disease in a superficial treatment of symptoms. Instead it evaluates the complete body-mind of the individual.”
My interest in Ayurveda was sparked when I was living in the north west of America in Washington State; here they have the Bastyr University which has a comprehensive Naturopathic department which incorporates this ancient tradition. Little did I know how much I was going to need it a few years down the line! It made sense to me to use “food as your medicine”, and the description of the mind/body types (doshas) also rang true (I’ll post more about this in the coming weeks).
In 2007 I became very ill with ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), for a time bed bound, then severely restricted to the house with a walk of 15 minutes utterly exhausting me, I had a young son who ‘lost’ his mum to this little understood condition. That is another story – but AYURVEDA and KICHARI – a traditional detox food, became my new lifestyle – and turned my health around.
The philosophy is simple. The body detoxes when it is given the opportunity to do so. Kichari is considered a complete food in Ayurveda and is at the core of nutritional healing. You can eat it for a day (yes, breakfast, lunch and supper!) or even a week. Light and easy to digest, the spices used all have cleansing/healing properties. There are numerous variations which correlate either to the season (cooling or warming), or for targeting specific organs (spleen/pancreas, lungs, digestive, liver/gall bladder). What a fantastic, easy to prepare, healing ‘stew’!
Perfect for any time of the year – but particularly when the seasons change, you are feeling low in energy, feel a cold coming on or need to give your digestion a rest.
Here’s the recipe I used (enough for 1 day):-
Kichari – Serves 3 (or a one day recipe)
1 cup split yellow mung beans
1 cup white basmati rice (easier to digest than brown rice when gently detoxing)
1 Tbspn grated ginger root
1 Tbspn ghee or coconut oil
1 tspn each of black mustard seeds, cumin, fennel and fenugreek seeds
1 tspn each of coriander powder and turmeric powder
1 pinch of Asafetida (hing) – now found in supermarkets – hooray!
3 bay leaves
6-8 cups of water
Rock salt or sea salt to taste
Optional Veggies: grated carrot, courgette/zucchini, sweet potato, celery
Lemon to squeeze on added zing once cooked
Soak rice and beans overnight or for a few hours. Wash and rinse until water runs clear.
Heat pot on a medium heat, melting chosen oil.
Add spices (except bay leaves) and roast for a few minutes – careful not to burn.
Add rice and dhal, stir well, add bay leaves and water, bring to boil for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat and gently simmer, cover pot, and cook until all is soft (30 minutes ish).
Add your chosen vegetables if required (it’s fine to eat without veggies, but certainly adds to the variety when you do) cook for the last 15 minutes.
Stir in delicate greens just before serving –eg spinach, alfalfa sprouts
Add salt and black pepper to taste once cooked.
Garnish with lemon and fresh coriander.