Autumn is dry, rough, windy, erratic, cool and subtle. It is a good idea to make some seasonal adjustments as we move into autumn. Most of us do this to some extent without thinking about it too much. We start to leave behind the salads and cooling fruits like watermelon for doughy breads and warm, grounding soups – foods that naturally subdue the dry, light, and erratic qualities of autumn.
Thanks to one of my friends, I was introduced to a great Indian recipe called Kitchari that helps to keep one's digestive system strong during the cold fall and winter seasons. It is recommended to do Kitachari in the beginning of Fall or Spring to boost the digestive system. However, it is suggested to eat it if you have the very first signs of cold to help you to boost your immune system. I am not an expert but only a "friend" in the field of Ayurveda where Kitchari comes from but I have found it very helpful in times when my tummy feels bit unsettled or when I feel under the weather. Well, and after Halloween night, your tummy migh feel bit unsetled...
Kitchari is a potent blood purifier and also supports proper kidney function. It is recommended to eat Kitachari for breakfast, lunch and dinner for at least two days, maximum 4 days. The recipe uses mung beans to strip pesticides out of the system, which is especially helpful for the reproductive organs, liver, and the thyroid. Try to remember this if you get tired of eating the Kitchari twice a day. It is mainly the mind and emotions that rebel against such a routine. That is also why you can help yourself by creating yummy, fresh side dishes. Steamed vegetables are always a good choice, or you can have avocado with a little salt and lemon.
(The recipe below is a courtesy of Debbie Helfeld).
½ cup white basmati rice
½ cup organic yellow split mung dal (Indian beans).You can buy them at a local Asian Supermarket in the International secstion or at Indina store called Desi Bazaar –see the address below)
3-4 cups water, depending on the desired consistency
1 stick of kombu (seaweed) – (I got it at the International section at Whole Foods Store)
1 t grated fresh ginger (I bought a jar of already grated ginger at Whole foods— much easier-International Section)
2 T ghee (buy it at the International section of Whole Foods)
1 small onion or 1 to 2 shallots, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 T ghee (buy in in the International section of Whole Foods)
1/2 to 3/4 t sea salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or more or less, to taste
1 1/2 to 2 t spice mix (called vata churna)-- see below
Churna (SPICE) Mix:
Grind the seeds (use an electric coffer grinder that is dedicated to spices) and mix them well with the powdered spices. Store in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid at room temperature out of the sunglight. You can make more or less of the mix, but use the same proportions.
Desi Bazaar Indian store:
Address: 9179 Red Branch Rd #H, Columbia, MD 21045 Phone:(410) 997-8400 Hours: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Wash rice and mung dal and soak for three hours or overnight. Put drained dal with water in a saucepan. Stri and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam on the top and then add the rice. Add the kombu, part of the salt and grated ginger. Turn the heat to low, partially cover and simmer until the rice and dal are soft, about 20 minutes. When done, cover completely and turn off the heat.
Meanwhile, heat the ghee over medium heat in a small frying pan and add the onion. Continue cooking, stirring frequently until the onion is light browned. Then add the churna spice mix and the rest of the salt. Lower the heat and stir continuously for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the spice mix to the dal and rice, mix well, and cook on low for another few minutes, stirring frequently. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.
Note: You can make just the dal and rice, and leave it covered on the stove. Then about 5 minutes before you are ready to eat prepare the rest of the dish.
To read more about Kitchari, visit: http://lifespa.com/whats-so-amazing-about-khichadi/
General Tips for Everyone in Autumn
Some general tips that will serve us all well include:
eating foods that are easy to digest, but also grounding and nourishing, such as root vegetables, soups, and stews.
Eat regular meals at regular times.
Drink fresh ginger tea with a little honey between meals so that your agni (digestive fire) remains strong and your appetite is stimulated prior to eating.
Drink room-temperature, warm, or hot beverages, and avoid iced drinks.
Do your best to limit your intake of raw vegetables, salads, and cold or frozen foods.
Reduce the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes and avoid overly fiery spices, strong black teas, and coffee.
"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."