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Simple Kitchari

If you are looking for healthy comfort food, kitchari is your answer. This creamy, light, and soothing one-pot meal is the Ayurveda superstar—easy to make, inexpensive, delicious, and teeming with health benefits. Whether you’re trying to lighten up your body or need to prepare a complete meal in 40 minutes, kitchari is there for you, any day of the year. It also pairs well with a salad or sautéed leafy greens.

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee in a heavy 4-quart saucepan over low heat. Add the turmeric and toast for 10 seconds, then add the curry leaves, ginger, and chili and continue to toast until they crisp up, about 30 seconds. Add the lentils and rice and stir frequently until the moisture of the lentils and grains dries up, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetables, salt, and ground fennel and 4 cups of water. (Add quick-cooking vegetables such as zucchini and asparagus 20 minutes into cooking.) Bring to a full boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until the lentils begin to dissolve, the rice is soft, and the vegetables are cooked. If the kitchari dries out too much and begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, add more hot water. You’re looking for a creamy, moist consistency.

2. Turn off the heat and fold in the leafy greens and the remaining 1 tablespoon ghee. Garnish each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, a couple of turns of the pepper mill, and the cilantro. Serve hot with a slice of lime on the side (to be squeezed and the juice mixed into the kitchari before eating).

Recipe extracted from Joy of Balance by Divya Alter, published by Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. Photography © Rachel Vanni. Food stylist © Caitlin Haught-Brown.