Do you ever find yourself consumed by something, be it a food or a recipe, a creative endeavour, a new hobby, a lifestyle change or destination? And this thought snowballs as you try to find out everything about it; what defines it, what destroys it, what you have and what you need, the logistics of making it possible. As this thought metamorphoses into a reality, it becomes so deeply etched in your mind and daily life that it beats like a drum in tune with your heartbeat.
You know that it is the way forward, more than merely a passing phase, yet cannot for the life of you remember what it was that triggered the first interest, what sparked the direction of your thoughts. However, it doesn’t even matter. Life has a peculiar habit of drawing you in the direction you need to be.
Upon the death of my father, I had a similar all-consuming desire to practice Bikram Yoga. I had never heard of such a practice. Nobody I knew engaged in this discipline of yoga and there were only two studios in the entire city, one being a short 5 minute bus ride away albeit in a direction I had never been.
I cannot stand hot weather. I loathe feeling warm, and I grew up in tropical Queensland, Australia.
Yet, for 6 months I practiced Bikram 5-6 days a week. I sweated out my anger at losing my dad. I meditated for the duration of the 90 minute class to grasp control of my grief. And, I challenged and pushed myself more than I ever did through school or university.
I never sat down, laid down, drank water or vomited once in the class. There were times I didn’t want to go, times I thought my practice was getting worse, times I thought I wouldn’t make it through the class. But then there were also times I felt I was finally in control of something in my life, times I thought this was my calling and I would pay the ridiculous tens of thousands of dollars to become a Bikram Yoga teacher.
And then, I’m not really sure what happened. Like everything, in which I seem to go all or nothing in to, oneday, I just stopped.
But, this post is not about my obsessive foray into Bikram Yoga. That was just more of a long winded comparison. A warm-up. A pre-game. A precursor. An appetiser.
So, sometime in the last fortnight, upon exiting my cave of depression, something was guiding me in the direction of all things ayurvedic, yogic and holistic. I took time to remember my intrinsic beliefs, to take things back to basics, strip myself of all prescriptions, partying and poisonous food and behaviours in order to have a cleaner, lighter, more focused mind, body and soul.
“The path of meditation requires a moderate, regulated life,
avoiding too much or too little food, work,
and sleep, or use of the senses.
The attention must abide in the soul all the time.
For such a person, yoga destroys all sorrows.”
— Bhagavad Gita
It is no surprise that in my kind of unconscious search (I started reading books again – chosen off my bookshelf, not before read – Light in Yoga, Clean and The Power of Now – which I still cannot get in to) I found myself late one night pulled in the direction of Kitchari.
I had never heard of this. Never eaten this. Cannot rememember how I even found it. But, almost daily, I have been researching this cleansing, detoxifying yet nourishing one-pot-wonder that is a staple in India and as part of an Ayurvedic cleanse to purify the body by flushing out toxins.
Kitchari led me to research Ayurveda more, which I had always had some sort of interest in, however previously, upon face value, the practice had lost me completely at “no onions or garlic”
I love nothing more than roasting some garlic cloves to consume straight up. I eat raw red onion until my stomach hurts.
Which is probably in essence why Ayurveda practices restriction or lowered intake of such sharp foods.
It’s funny though how we can immediately dispell a whole practice, centuries of research and proven results via longevity of life in good health merely because we disagree with one principle.
So, basically, the goal is to follow a Kitchari cleanse for 7 days – wherein Kitchari is the only meal consumed – then, assess the situation upon seeing the results. See, I mentioned in my last post I had been conducting all manners of experiemnts on myself. This is no exception. In order for this cleanse to be most effective, I will also be starting my day with a 15 minute meditation followed by Vinyasa yoga. Nights will also include another Vinyasa session and meditation before bed.
If after this (and I am prepared to do this cleanse for 30 days) I don’t feel changes in my mood, thoughts or energy levels, I just may give up on holistic nutrition and therapies and resolve myself to heroin.
So anyway, what exactly is kitchari?
Directly translated, Kitchari means mixture, and usually pertains to a mix of two grains. Traditionally these are basmati rice and mung beans, however I did see many recipes using brown rice, yellow split peas, red lentils and even the Mr Famous grain, quinoa.
Whilst the variations are endless, with the additions and omissions of different spices, vegetables and even substitutions of different rice and lentils, I have refined my own recipe based on literally, about 50 different recipes, research into my dosha (Ayurvedic body and personality type – which I believe to be a pitta/kosha mix) and my own personal taste to come up with the following recipe:
1 cup basmati rice (I got from Foreign Food Mart in Seoul – however will be buying organic off iherb for half the price)
1/2 cup mung beans (Again same as basmati rice – in future will be getting off iherb)
6 cups of water
2 tbsp coconut oil (I don’t want to use ghee, ie no dairy for me)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 cup vegetables (I’m using cauliflower, broccoli, peas whilst in season – Ayurveda strongly recommends using seasonal produce, in line with my ethos too :))
Soak beans and rice overnight.
In a stainless steel or enamel pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add in spices and stir. Add in rice and beans and vigourously mix to thoroughly coat as this will prevent the rice and beans from turning to mush.
Add in the water and simmer covered for 30 mins.
10 minutes before cooking time is finished, add in any hard vegetables like carrots, sweet potato or in my case, cauliflower. 5 minutes out, add in softer ones like broccoli or peas.
Kitchari should resemble a thick dahl more than a soup. To finish, garnish with coriander and salt and pepper if desired.
Will be posting daily through this cleanse!