Why you need to try a kitchari cleanse this spring

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Why you need to try a kitchari cleanse this spring

September 18, 2019 | News | No Comments


17th Sep 2019

Spring may have sprung but the nights are still chilly and there are some cool days ahead. While the urge to spring cleanse and get your summer body underway may be strong, it pays to take things slow and steady rather than swing wildly from one season to the next.

Rather than switching abruptly from stodgy heavy winter foods to a full liquid diet (aka juice cleanse), there is a gentler way to transition into the new season and feel lighter.

“Freshness in the air and lightness in the nature brings on also awakening in our body,” says Sydney naturopath and author of Intuitive Eating, Jana Brunclikova. 

“This is the perfect time to prepare your body for cleanse or lighten your digestive system after few months of rich, nourishing comfort food. As nature changes from heavy to light, the same happens in your bodily functions.”

Often our bodies can feel slow and heavy in early spring which is known as the Kapha season in the ancient Ayurvedic eastern medicine system. Some common Kapha symptoms include bloating, sugar cravings, constipation, low energy, bad breath, irritability, mood swings and belly fat. 

“All of this can result in a feeling of not just physical, but emotional heaviness – an unsatisfied feeling of being stuck somewhere. Sometimes there is also an inability to react to the coming of Spring with the get-up-and-go excitement of this renewal period,” Brunclikova says.

She says just as we might clean our houses in spring, we need to clean out the excess Kapha (in the form of mucus, phlegm and dampness) from our bodies.

And that’s where kitchari comes in. Made from mung beans, split or red lentils, rice and spices, this healing Ayurvedic one-pot dish is cleansing, nourishing and easy to digest. Best of all, this restorative Indian water-based curry is warm and you can do it for just one-day or a whole week, depending on your schedule and how you feel.

“Kitchari has long been used to nourish babies, the elderly and sick and during times of detoxification, cleansing and deep spiritual practice,” says Brunclikova, who makes kitchari for Sydney’s Orchard Street juice bars.

Amidst all of the modern no-carb, low-carb and grain-free diet trends happening today, kitchari might seem like an unusual cleansing food. 

However, Brunclikova says the combination of rice and mung dal provides all the amino acids we need to form a complete protein. “The protein content of kitchari supports stable blood sugar levels so that energy and mental clarity are balanced during the cleansing process,” she says. Plus it contains all essential macronutrients: carbohydrate (beans and rice), complete protein (mung dahl), and fat (ghee). 

“Ghee contains butyric acid, a metabolic by-product produced in the gut that helps to maintain a healthy intestinal wall,” she says. “Ghee is packed with omega-3 fatty acids; fat-soluble vitamins plus short, medium and long-chain fatty acids. It helps lubricate and soften the inside of the digestive tract, helping with absorption and regularity.”

Meanwhile, she says the astringent mung dhal helps to remove toxic build-up from the intestinal lining. “But it is much gentler than the harsh or abrasive scraping action that happens with raw or cold foods, especially raw vegetables,” she says.

The kitchari spices – ginger, cumin, coriander and turmeric and a little salt – encourage production of healthy digestive enzymes. And they are ‘tri-doshic” meaning they help balance all three Ayurvedic doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha). So you can adjust the spice ratios to suit your dosha and then dial them up or down to suit you.

How long does a kitchari cleanse take? 
“The beauty of this dish is that you can eat it for a single meal to give your digestion a break or do a full cleanse of three to five days where you really begin to release stored toxins and accumulation,” Brunclikova says. 

How do you do a kitchari cleanse?

Plan ahead and decide how many days you want to do it for, making sure it doesn’t clash with other events in your calendar. A few days before your cleanse, begin to eliminate or reduce common foods that cause imbalances such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar, meat, processed foods, unrefined carbohydrates and dairy.

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Make kitchari daily (if possible) and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. See if you can get a friend on board to take turns making batches. Drink warm, herbal teas and water throughout the day and get plenty of rest and take time for self care (oil massage, warm baths, yoga, meditation). 

Other ways to kickstart spring cleansing includes keeping an eye out for the first bitter roots of spring at your farmer’s market – think dandelion root, burdock root, goldenseal, turmeric root and ginger to name a few. These all help scrub the intestinal mucosa and help your liver detox. 

“These roots can be brewed into a tea, added to soups and stews, or taken as a supplement to boost your spring root intake,” Brunclikova says. “This is also the time to start dry skin brushing and vigorous massage to kickstart your lymphatic system and get ready for detoxification and healthy glowing skin.”

In the mornings drink a cup of warm water with lemon followed by another glass of warm water to flush the system. And finally, don’t forget to chew your cleanse. “Digestion and first enzymes production starts in the month,” Brunclikova says. “By proper chewing you also kick start your proper digestion/elimination.”

Ayurvedic healing kitchari

Serves four
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Published in Intuitive Eating


½ cup yellow mung beans or split peas (soaked for 24 hours)
½ cup basmati rice (rinsed and uncooked)
2 tbsps of coconut oil or ghee
1 ½ tbsps of cumin seeds
1 ½ tbsps of fennel seeds
½ tbsps of fenugreek seeds
1 ½ tbsps of coriander powder
1 tbsps of ginger (freshly minced)
½ tbsps of garam masala
1 – 2 bay leaves
Pinch asafoetida (optional)
4 cups of vegetable stock or water
1 inch stick of kombu
2 bunches spinach
½ cups of sun-dried tomatoes (chopped)
1 lime
Fresh coriander
Coconut yogurt
Sea salt (to taste)


1. Heat coconut oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the cumin, fennel and fenugreek seeds and cook for a few minutes to release their aromatics, or until the seeds have popped. Add the rest of the spices and stir to combine.
2. Pour in a cup of vegetable stock followed by the mung beans, rice, and kombu. Add the rest of the stock on top. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes.
3. Check the pot and stir periodically to avoid the rice sticking to the bottom. For a soupier consistency add more water, or simmer a bit longer for a thicker stew.
4. Add chopped spinach and sun-dried tomatoes to the pot just before it’s finished cooking.

Serve with fresh coriander folded through, coconut yogurt and a drizzle of lime. Add salt to taste.

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