If you’ve never had kitchiri, make this recipe ASAP. You have no idea what you’re missing!
In my house, one-pot meals are absolutely necessary. They’re often the savior of weeknight dinners, the difference between ordering last-minute take-out and cooking a healthy meal at home. This is due to the fact that despite my good meal-planning intentions, I often don’t feel like cooking after a busy day. If the recipe is simple enough to execute — like this Easy One-Pot Indian Kitchiri — the chances become much, much better that I’ll actually pull it off.
This recipe only requires a handful of ingredients and about 30 minutes from start to finish. You’ll do everything in a single pot, from toasting the spices to bring out their flavor to simmering the rice and beans. In addition to being simple to make, this Easy One-Pot Indian Kitchiri is also made with all plant-based ingredients. You won’t miss the meat, though. It contains enough fiber and protein to be filling, even for the meat-eaters in the house.
What is Kitchiri?
Kitchiri (also spelled kitcharee, khichadi, kitchadee, khichdi, and many other variations) is an Indian dish made with rice and dal (a type of split pea or lentil). I was first introduced to the dish when I co-wrote My Mother’s Ayurvedic Kitchen with Ayurvedic practitioner, Amita Nathwani. She explained that, according to Ayurveda, kitchiri is one of the most nourishing foods you can eat because it’s easy to digest. Her grandmother served kitchiri for dinner every night of the year, and it’s served for panchakarma, a cleansing program used in Ayurveda to remove imbalances from the body.
The rice and beans come together to form a complete protein. That means they contain all the amino acids our bodies need (just like meat). It’s an excellent vegetarian meal, and can easily become vegan and plant-based if made with coconut oil instead of ghee (as in this recipe). Our modified recipe also uses red lentils instead of moong dal, as they’re generally easier to find in U.S. grocery stores.
Can you Make Kitchiri in the Instant Pot?
If you want to make this one-pot meal even easier, feel free to use the Instant Pot! Use the Saute function to toast the spices, onion, carrots, and ginger before adding the rice, lentils, and water. Instead of using all the water in the stovetop version, you’ll want to reduce the water to three cups.
Then turn the Instant Pot on to Manual (high pressure) and cook for eight minutes. When the timer goes off, let the pressure naturally release for two to three minutes before manually releasing the pressure.
How to Serve Easy One-Pot Kitchiri
Kitchiri is filling and nourishing on its own, so don’t be afraid to eat it plain as it is. To create a healthy, balanced meal, we definitely suggest serving it with vegetables. You can either whip up your favorite vegetable side dishes, or stir veggies like broccoli, spinach, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and more into the pot for the last three to five minutes.
Some people serve kitchiri with a dollop of yogurt (or chaas, a spiced buttermilk made by blending yogurt and water together). We left the yogurt out of this recipe to make it vegan-friendly, but feel free to add it in! You can also use coconut cream or our dairy-free sour cream recipe for a plant-based addition.
When it comes to garnish, we love using herbaceous cilantro. You can also introduce a little tang to the dish by adding a splash of lime juice. To give this recipe a touch of sweetness, add a spoonful of caramelized onions to the top of each bowl. You can also add in a little spice by serving the dish with spicy Indian mixed pickles.
This is a great meal for busy weeknights. It’s also an excellent way to show meat-eaters how filling vegetarian dishes can be. Once you give it a try, we’re sure this recipe will join the regular rotation at your house!
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds (optional)
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 carrots diced
- 1 tablespoon ginger minced
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup basmati rice rinsed
- 1 cup red lentils rinsed
- 6 cups water
- 4 cilantro sprigs chopped, for garnish
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds (if using) and cook for 1 minute, until the seeds begin to pop.
Add the onions, carrots, and ginger to the pot and cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the turmeric, salt, pepper, rice, and red lentils. Stir to coat the rice with the spices.
Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.
Check the pot to see if the rice and lentils are tender. If they are not but there is no more liquid, add an extra 1/2 cup water and cook for an additional 5 minutes. If the rice is tender but the mixture contains a lot of liquid, simmer uncovered for an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
Serve the kitchiri with the chopped cilantro.
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 11
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