Kitchari is the food Indian mothers give to children who are feeling poorly. It is the perfect dish to have on hand for days when feeling tired, slightly queasy, or low on energy. It... is relatively simple to make, easy to digest, and adaptable to whatever is handy. Make a big batch of kitchari to freeze in portions when needed. Eat it as is, or spruced up with other vegetables, such as sautéed kale or spinach.
Sauté the mustard seeds in the oil or ghee until they pop. Then, add the cumin, turmeric, coriander, fennel seeds and asafetida, if using. Cook for 1 minute.
Add the split peas and salt. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add water, bring to boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or until the dal is about ⅓ cooked.
Prepare any preferred vegetables (see Chef Tip). Add rice and these vegetables.
Stir to mix, adding extra water if required. Bring back to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is fully cooked and the water is completely absorbed.
Asafoetida is a traditional Indian spice frequently used in vegetarian dishes to replace onions and garlic. It can be found at Indian grocery stores and many health food stores. The spice is actually a gum taken from the root of an herb native to Persia and India. And is considered a digestive aid, often used in bean dishes, pickles and condiments. If asafetida is not available, add 1 or 2 whole peeled, smashed clove of garlic to the split peas when adding the water in step 2.
If preferred, substitute canola oil for ghee. Vegan ghee is available in health food stores.