Don’t stir the kitchari. And oh, bring flowers to work!

I’m closing out the third day of my fourth seasonal Ayurvedic cleanse — hard to believe it’s round four! — and scribbled in my notes from yesterday’s cooking class with Kate O’Donnell of Ayurveda Boston is:


I adore kitchari to the point of craving it fairly frequently, especially in its hardcore, cleanse-style form without ghee or tastier accoutrements. But since my first cleanse in the fall of 2012, I have always had the sense that I improperly prepare this mix of basmati rice, split mung dahl and spices.

After tasting Kate’s concoction yesterday, I feel validated in my suspicions. :-)

So for the rest of this cleanse, I will let the kitchari cook on the stovetop longer, I will add water as I go along if needed, and, for heaven’s sake, I will not stir the batch as I go. I’m looking forward to whipping up kitchari that is soupier than risotto — and I can’t wait to add a strip of kombu to the mix.

Kate, by the way, is working on an Ayurvedic cookbook, and I am counting the months until it’s released. I’ll share that info here when it happens.

This weekend’s sessions with Kate, hosted in Ann Arbor by Ashtanga Yoga: Ann Arbor, included introductory sessions on the fundamental concepts of Ayurveda and also a cooking class. I can’t tell you how geeked I was to get to meet Kate in person after a year and a half of only seeing her through laptop and iPad screens for online cleanse meetings and individual consultations. I’m not sure where I would be today — digestively or otherwise — if Angela Jamison hadn’t set up that first online cleanse program with Kate in 2012. In the stew of A2, as Ann Arbor is called, the twin sciences of ashtanga and Ayurveda have transformed my lifestyle and therefore my life.

If I only had one word to describe this weekend, it would be community. How cool is our ashtanga shala community? We have the likes of Anne Kellogg, who took the photo of Kate above, and Eric Fileti, who made delectable batches of local organic ghee to share. And in my head, I’m scanning the room and seeing everyone else who brought their smiles and experiences and questions. I mean, by the end of the weekend, we were laughing about our debate over preferences for castor oil sources (I am taking my purgation this Friday, and will be using the drug store variety).

I needed this weekend. My job has tested me on just about every level for the past couple months — physically, with the hours and the stress, and emotionally with some dynamics going on. I was especially geeked for the opportunity to meet individually with Kate — our first consultation not done via Google+ — in which Kate could look at my tongue and feel my pulse. It was a true treat to be able to sit across from each other and talk.

A lot of the talk was centered on my elevated vata dosha (not a surprise to me, believe me — I have felt this keenly since returning from India and being thrust back into my professional life).

One ridiculously simple and extremely lovely suggestion Kate had was to bring flowers to work. I can hear my mom telling me the exact same thing, and really, many of the gems of Ayurveda remind me of what my mom has told me all my life (get outside! take a walk!).

Like with so much of Ayurveda — as Kate reminded us during the weekend workshops — this is stuff we already know. But we’re human, and we need to be reminded. I bought these flowers from a lovely shop near my workplace today, and I am happy to say that this, too, is part of my Ayurvedic practice.


(Photo credit: Top photo by Anne Kellogg)

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6 thoughts on “Don’t stir the kitchari. And oh, bring flowers to work!

  1. Hi Rose! This post is so fun. I did my first spring cleanse with Kate last month. What struck me the most about the effect of the monodiet was how well I slept after the first few days. Straight through the night—soft & clear sleep. Once it was over, I slipped pretty far off the scales the very next day when my kids pushed (hmm..well, not that hard) me to have a miniature chocolate eclair. I ate just half of it, but I could still feel the sugar clanging through my body. It actually felt like a metallic cascade of —something. I sometimes eat kitchari in “real life” now, too, though I make a slightly more high protein version of it with brown rice & green lentils. So smart about the flowers!
    ps.Thanks for the birthday wish the other day

    • I’ve been loving this image of sugar clanging through the body, and I’ve had several conversations since you posted this about the insidious effects of sugar. I don’t see our culture laying off the stuff any time soon, though. As Michael Moss discusses in Salt Sugar Fat, there is so much profit tied into the power of sugar.

      I recently learned about the existence of coconut palm sugar, and wonder how that is to work with…

      Finally, I keep meaning to ask if you would share your brown rice and green lentils recipe!

      • I’ve tried coconut palm sugar and found it unpleasantly heavy—a malty taste and kind of grainy. I can imagine using pinches of it in savory dishes, but it’s not for me. I don’t know if it’s true, but I read somewhere that the only sweetener that isn’t bad for you is molasses. Need to find a good molasses sweet to make…!

        My brown rice & green lentils is just the same basic idea as kitcheri—I use half brown rice and half green lentils (the large flat pale-ish kind: I get them from Whole Foods & they cook just right in the amount of time it takes the brown rice to cook). I usually make this for lunch for myself since I work at home, & a quarter cup combined lentils/rice is plenty for one serving (add about 5-6 parts water). After it’s cooked (45 mins?), I add a tablespoon of ghee. I like it with a bit of salt and lots of black pepper. Very plain jane, but that’s kind of the point, right?

        I need to read that book you mentioned. Profit & power makes sense, but I also think sugar is ridiculously addictive. I feel no draw to alcohol or drugs, but I’ve amazed myself sometimes by eating sugar even as I’m actively thinking, “this is not good for me. this is a bad idea. this will make me feel sick.” Kate once said that this kind of thing has a name in ayurvedic thought, something like “crimes against wisdom.” I love that & think it makes so much sense.

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