Healing Kitchari

Photo and recipe by  Tending the Table

Photo and recipe by Tending the Table


The oldest medical system in the world, Ayurveda, suggests that optimal health occurs when we tune into our bodies and environment and reflect these factors into our diet.

Originating in India, this healing system advises that we adjust our diet seasonally. In these dark and rainy winter days, it’s important to keep our bodies warm and nourished. We can use our food as medicine, and this Healing Kitchari by Tending the Table is an effective way to bring our bodies back into balance.

Kitchari is an Ayurvedic staple; traditionally, people would eat this meal as part of an Ayurvedic cleanse due to its healing herbs and properties. This recipe has a unique twist with the addition of butternut squash, however you can also substitute the squash with pumpkin or sweet potato.


  • 1 butternut squash

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ghee

  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/2 cup white basmati rice

  • 1/4 cup red lentils

  • 4 cups vegetable broth

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Freshly cracked black pepper

  • Minced cilantro


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and place cut side down in a large baking dish. Add about an inch of water. Bake for 40 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife. Allow to cool before removing the seeds and scooping out the flesh. Transfer the flesh to a food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside 1/2 cup of the squash puree, reserving the rest for another use.

Meanwhile, melt the ghee in a medium pot. Add the ginger, cumin, and coriander and fry until fragrant. Rinse the rice and lentils then add to the pot with the ghee and spices. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes, until the rice and lentils are cooked and the kitchari is creamy. Stir in the pureed squash, turmeric, and salt. Taste and season with more salt as needed. Serve warm, topped with black pepper and minced cilantro.