Kitchari is generally made with short grained rice and mung dal, cooked until they both collapse into a semi solid dish which is nourishing and tasty. Kitchari has been adopted globally as a healthy, quick dish, easy to digest and compatible with a lot of dietary requirements and fads.
Inside and outside of India, though, recipes vary dramatically from the original. Long grained Basmati is used rather than the more sticky short grain rices like Soma Masouri. This changes the nature of the dish to more like a pilaf. Kitchari can also have soupy or porridge-like consistencies. And they can be made with ingredients.
The genesis of this dish of cracked wheat and mung dal comes from the Kitchari approach, but seemingly breaking almost every rule for a common rice based Kitchari. This dish is more like a savoury gruel, a dal perhaps, or porridge. But as Kitchari literally means “mixture” or “mess”, we will let it pass. Of course, it can be made thicker as well, a staple in Gujarati households.
Cook this dish with beautiful, yellow split mung dal – overnight in the slow cooker is ideal, for a warming and nourishing breakfast.
Similar dishes include Moth Bean Kitchari.
This recipe can be cooked on the Slow Cook setting of a Rice Cooker, using a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, or on the stove top. Each slow cooker cooks differently. Using the slow cooking setting on my rice cooker it takes about 9 – 10 hours. You are looking for a consistency where the wheat and dal have collapsed, creating a soupy porridge with a little texture.
Slow cookers often cook a little faster, so it might be ready after 8 hours. However, they are quite flexible with timing, so cooking for 9 – 10 hours should not be a problem.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, simmer for a couple of hours on the stove top or use a pressure cooker.
Cracked Wheat Kitchari
This recipe is for a slow cooker or slow cooking function of a rice cooker. Adjust timings accordingly if using other cooking methods.
Rinse 1/2 cup split mung dal and 1/2 cup cracked wheat in a couple of changes of water to remove any dust.
Heat a tablespoon of ghee in a small pan or in the insert of your slow cooker if it allows you to do this.
Add 1 tspn cumin seed, 1/2 tspn ajwain seeds (if you have them), 1/2 tspn fenugreek seeds and 1/4 tspn fennel seeds. When the seeds are beginning to brown, add a pinch of asafoetida, a dried red chilli (broken in 2) and 6 or 8 curry leaves.
If you are doing this in a pan, add to the rice cooker. Add the cracked wheat and mung dal, with 4 or 5 cups of water. (Use more water if cooking on the stove top.) Stir in 1/2 tspn coriander powder, 1 tspn grated ginger and 1/2 tspn turmeric powder.
If available, add a fresh cardamom leaf, and an Indian Bay leaf (teja pata).
Cook for 9 hours on the Slow Cooking setting (or at least 1.5 hours on stove, and up to 2.5 hours, adding water as necessary).
Add sea salt to taste and a little black pepper.
Voila! Breakfast ready for you, hot and delicious, when you get up in the morning. Enjoy!. You can also add two chopped tomatoes and a handful of chopped parsley or green coriander leaves.
recipe notes and alternatives
Chopped vegetables and sauteed onions can be added to the kitchari and cooked with it.
Use a different spice mix, e.g. tadka of cumin, cloves and cinnamon, asafoetida, curry leaves with pepper, ginger paste, green chilli paste, turmeric, chilli powder and garam masala (optional).
Serve with papad and yoghurt.