The chicken soup of India is called kitchari, a staple food of India’s traditional approach to medicine and health known as Ayurvedic. The name of the dish comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “mixture,” and in this recipe the combination of rice and dal (split yellow lentils) make the dish rich in amino acids, essential for strength and energy. It is a simple meal that can be revitalizing during chemotherapy, giving the body an easy-to-digest form of protein and carbohydrates.
Added health benefits come from the spices in kitchari. Cumin and coriander lend the dish warmth, and turmeric has been identified as a spice with particular healing potential. According to the Mayo Clinic, turmeric contains curcumin, thought to have antioxidant properties and the possible ability to decrease swelling and inflammation. On its own, turmeric is being explored as a substance to be used in cancer treatment.
In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, kitchari is believed to purify digestion and help eliminate toxins, and is often prescribed during fasts or cleanses. Ayurvedic physicians often prescribe a kitchari diet before, during, and after panchakarma, a rigorous detox regimen. This simple mixture is also often the first solid food given to infants.
Kitchari is the perfect dish for days when you might feel tired, slightly queasy, or low on energy. It is relatively simple to make, easy to digest, and adaptable to whatever you have on hand. Make a big batch and enjoy the leftovers as is or spruce them up with other vegetables, such as sautéed kale or spinach.