Behold the delightful pip of glee that is the humble mung bean. According to the yogic science of Ayurveda, kitchari (a soupy stew of mung beans, rice and assorted veg) is the most balancing, nutritious food, regardless of allergies or constitution. It resets your digestive system, it cleanses you from the inside out and… dun dun dunnnnn… it gives your skin a radiance that’s known as ‘the kitchari glow’. The catch? You have to eat kitchari and nothing but kitchari for every meal, and you can only drink water (and, if you’re less strict, yogi tea) for 40 days. And so that is exactly what I did (recipe is at the end of the post). Here’s how I got on…
I cooked up a massive cauldron of kitchari with butternut the day before we started. I’m doing this with my partner Nish, and the support really helps. My first few days are rough. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE kitchari. I did this fast a few years ago, only I didn’t cut out fruit and nuts – and I enjoyed every last minute (see here for the blog and cringe pictures). But now perhaps I’m a little more hooked on sugar and these first few days I feel fluey, exhausted and I miss my daily fix of 85% Green & Blacks chocolate. Hell, I miss snacking in general – almonds, tangerines, bananas and other treats that used to get me through the day. I’m also amazed at how CHEAP it is to live on three bowls of kitchari a day! Each bowl is worth less than £1! By day three, I get a furry tongue and am still feeling pretty exhausted. By the end of the week I’m less moody and I think that’s a result of no sugar or wheat. I didn’t eat much before, but I can really feel the difference. By the end of the week, I’ve lost the extra weight I’d gained on our trip to Canada.
This week has been a struggle. Especially the first few days, where I felt as if I was sitting at the bottom of a veeeerrrryyyy tall mountain of mung to climb. Despite the overwhelm at how long this feels, I’m happily cancelling social engagements as I feel quite introverted and wanting to curl up quietly at home. I also want to stay quite close to the kitchen where the kitchari lives – having such a restrictive diet really clamps down on your freedom! I can’t just nip out to M&S for a pot of pineapple if I need food. Rather than feeling exhausted this week, I have TOO much energy. I’m like a little bee ticking off all the things on my to-do list that have been wallowing there for months!
Back to feeling utterly exhausted, but the ‘doing’ energy is still there and I’m doing bonkers things like sanding the banisters and painting the front door (this might well be the effects of the 11-minutes daily Sat Kriya practice I’m doing alongside the kitchari fast). I decide at the end of the week to take a multivitamin with extra B12 and iron. This total exhaustion feels crippling and I’m worried my body is crying out for nutrients it’s not getting.
Mood has been doing its crazy thing! Nish and I are having lots of ridiculous little squabbles. We soon realise how silly we’re being, but I reckon kitchari is bringing up some old frustrations and angers for us both. Rage is triggered by the tiniest thing. It’s certainly a kriya to stay present with all of this volatility flying around. Good news is that the supplements have helped my energy levels and I’m equalising now.
My biggest challenge was my best friend’s hen party this weekend! Luckily she’s a pretty boho chick and wanted a ‘henstival’ rather than an all-night rage. So we had a weekend in the country with all the festival trimmings (I was doing the henna tattoos – check them out!). We laid on the MOST delicious spreads – and I took a few boxes of mung to see me through. It was amazing as I didn’t so much as even drool over the others’ food. I’ve become so used to my kitchari – and everyone who tried it admired how delish it is.
Our 40 days of kitchari is timed to end at the start of our next kundalini yoga teacher training module: Authentic Relationships. We arrive, all excited for the taste of fruit (hahaha, this is what I ended up craving the most, and ALMONDS!!), only to be greeted with a bowl of kitchari for dinner. Thanks for that!
In summary, I highly recommend this fast – I found it so interesting to explore my relationship to food, to observe the different emotions that the fast brought up as it detoxified on increasingly deeper levels ANNNDDDD to get the kitchari glow, of course! To me, I looked just the same as always, but everyone was saying how AMAZING my skin looked!
So, here’s how to make a massive batch of kitchari:
Clean 500g mung beans and boil rapidly for 10 minutes, scooping off the scum as it forms. Then add 500g basmati rice and whichever veg you fancy (my favourite is butternut, but beetroot is also lovely, and courgette, spinach, you name it, all delish!). Also add spices and flavourings. In the Kundalini Yoga recipe onions ginger and garlic are a must, although not all Ayurvedites condone the trinity roots. Turmeric is also great with this recipe, as is garam masala. Get experimental and PLAY! Some turn out soupier, others more mushy, and others a bit drier. It’s all DELISH and so wholesome and nutritious. Enjoy!