For some people, it’s macaroni and cheese. For others, it’s grilled cheese and tomato soup.

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
  1. Rinse and soak the lentils and rice for 30 minutes.
  2. In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over low heat. Add the turmeric and garam masala and toast for a few seconds.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the rice and lentils and stir constantly. The lentils should be dry.
  5. Add salt, pepper, vegetables, and 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
  6. 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.
  7. 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).