And sometimes, it’s just cheese.
For me, it’s both of those things. And spinach pappu. And this dish.
Kitchari is the ultimate Indian comfort food. It’s a savory stew made from lentils, rice, and whatever vegetables you have lying around.
And it is delicious.
It also has the benefit of being a one-pot (or Instant Pot) dish, making it supremely easy to whip up when you’re having a bad day or need a little extra comfort. Or both.
I make this often, at least once a week. Cooking the dish is incredibly restorative – feeling the heft of my knife as I chop the onion and garlic, the sizzle and aroma as the spices hit the hot oil, the meditative quality of stirring the spiced vegetables.
But nothing beats eating it. A bowl of kitchari makes everything better.
- 1/2 cup lentils (I like red lentils or yellow split lentils)
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 cups vegetables (I used butternut squash, carrots, potatoes, and beets)
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1 jalapeño
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh dill, chopped (approximately 1 tablespoon)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Rinse and soak the lentils and rice for 30 minutes.
- In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over low heat. Add the turmeric and garam masala and toast for a few seconds.
- Add the onion and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, jalapeño, and cilantro and cook for another minute or two. The mixture should be fragrant and the vegetables well coated.
- Add the rice and lentils and stir constantly. The lentils should be dry.
- Add salt, pepper, vegetables, and 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Add more water if the kitchari is dried out.
- Stir in lemon juice and dill. Serve and enjoy!
Kitchari is even easier to make in the Instant Pot. Use the sauté option for steps 2-4, and the manual pressure cooker option for steps 6-7 for 25 minutes.
Serve this up in a satisfyingly large bowl, set the table with these napkins, and pair it with a glass of wine in my favorite glass (which also works great as a water glass, a vase, a votive holder, and utensil holder).