Winter Kitchari & A Two Day Cleanse

Winter Kitchari Ashley Neese

Now that the holidays are behind us and we’re settled into this new year we can shift our attention back to self nourishment. I know how challenging it can be to stay focused with holiday travel, family gatherings, and parties. Now is a wonderful time to plant seeds of intention for the year for how we want to feed ourselves.

There are many ways we can nourish ourselves. Creativity, expression, service, movement, spiritual practices, relationships, and what we eat can all be forms of nourishment. When one area is off balance we tend to be off balance in other areas as well. Our lives ebb and flow and it’s not about being ‘perfect’ in all areas all of the time. In fact it’s not about perfection at all. Like with any practice, we pay attention, we slow down, and when we notice we’re off track we gently bring ourselves back. With dedication and focus, over time all forms of nourishment become woven into the fabric of our everyday life and it doesn’t take as much effort to maintain.

Winter Kitchari Ashley Neese

Our foundation for self care and nourishment is what we feed our physical bodies. Since what we eat literally makes up the cells in our bodies it stands to reason that eating well makes up our entire experience of life. We’ve all heard the stories of heavy smokers that quit smoking and after 7-10 years their lungs are like new. This is because the cells in our lungs renew themselves on a constant basis. Our skin, nails, red blood cells, liver, bones, and heart all renew over different periods of time. Some processes take longer than others but isn’t this mind blowing? Our bodies are literally changing before our eyes and you can see why giving them healing foods is so important.

Many folks like to kick off the new year with an extreme cleanse (and when I say extreme I am referring to an all juice or master cleanse) but I prefer to wait a few weeks into January and then eat a nourishing pot or two of kitchari. Given that it is winter, it’s best to stick with as many warm foods as possible and don’t skimp on the fat in the recipe, it’s valuable for countless functions in the body.

Winter Kitchari Ashley Neese

kitchari, winter, seasonal, wellness, holistic nutrition, ayurveda, cleanse, detox

Kitchari, is the main cleansing meal in Ayurvedic medicine. It is a combination of split mung beans and basmati rice. Traditional kitchari is made from white basmati rice because it is easier to digest. This healing one pot meal gives our often taxed digestion a break, balances metabolism, cleanses the liver, refreshes our blood, and supports our body to detox what it needs to.

Digestion is of number one importance in Ayurvedic medicine and with good reason. So many health issues can be traced to our gut health. The idea behind a good kitchari is that it is easy to digest, nourishing without being heavy, and light enough to allow our bodies to detox very gently. There are many different spice combinations that one can use based on their particular Ayurvedic dosha (your basic constitution). The recipe I used is adapted from Vasant Lad’s Ayurvedic Cooking for Self Healing and is suitable for all constitutions. If you’re interested in Ayurvedic cooking this is an excellent book to get you started. Loads of information and delicious recipes.

For the last two years I have used a simple kitchari as a staple recipe in my online Sugar Cleanse. In that recipe I added vegetables to make it more of a substantial meal. This recipe I’m posting now has no vegetables but you can add them if you like. Make sure they are cooked well so they are easy to digest. Good veggies to choose are carrots and green beans.

Winter Kitchari  Ashley Neese

This kitchari is what I ate during my recent prenatal yoga training. It was the perfect meal as it kept me alert and able to practice without feeling weighed down. Some days I ate an egg or two and had green smoothies with chlorophyll as a snack. Typically kitcahri diets, or mono diets, are kept up for 7-10 days, longer if there is a specific health issues. I suggest starting off with two days and see how you like it and how it makes you feel. The recipe makes enough for 1 day depending on how hungry you are.

Eat the kitchari over the course of a weekend or any couple of days that you have a little extra down time. The beauty of kitchari is that you can eat as much as you want. I recommend eating many small meals throughout the day verses three big meals. Smaller meals helps to stabilize blood sugar and will make this a much smoother process. Eat kitchari for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as a snack. Supplement with hot tea and green juice. Try to drink your green juices as close to room temperature as possible.

It is very important to drink plenty of water and get tons of rest on any cleanse, even if it’s only for two days. If you feel great after the two days then add on an extra day or two. Listen to your body and pay attention to the signals.

I add juices to my cleanse for the minerals and vitamins. This is not traditionally done in Ayurvedic medicine. I’ve worked with many Naturopaths and Acupuncturists over the years and I am sharing a sample cleanse that I do in the winter. I cleanse for a week but I don’t recommend doing that if this is your first time. Take it slow, there is no race to the finish line here! Use the time to turn inward and give your body a break.

Cleansing Kitchari 2 Day Cleanse

Days 1 + 2

  • 8 oz of Lemon Water (first thing in the morning)
  • 8oz of Green Juice (1-2 per day)
  • Kitchari (as much as you want all day)
  • Herbal Tea (1-2 cups per day)
  • Water (1/2 your body weight in ounces per day)

Self care treatments and practices you can do while cleansing

Ginger Detox Bath

Avocado Honey Mask

Restorative Yoga Pose

Mindful Eating

Winter Kitchari Ashley Neese

Winter Kitchari

Serves 4-5

Ingredients //

  • 1 c. split mung dal
  • 1 c. brown basmati rice
  • 1 & 1/2 piece fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 c. purified water
  • 3 Tbsp. ghee
  • 2 inch piece of cinnamon bark
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 5 whole cardamom pods
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. Celtic sea salt
  • 6 c. water


Method //

  1. Rinse mung dal and rice well. Add mung dal and rice to a small bowl and cover with water. Let soak over night, 10-12 hours. The next day rinse in 2 changes of water. Set aside.
  2. Put the ginger, coconut, cilantro, and water in a small blender and blend until you have a smooth liquid.
  3. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat and add the ghee, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns and bay leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon for a minute or two until very fragrant. Be careful not to burn the spices.
  4. Add the blended mixture to the pot along with the turmeric and salt. Stir until it is light brown.
  5. Stir in the mung dal and rice well to coat completely.
  6. Pour in the water, cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Allow it to boil for five minutes them reduce to a simmer on the lowest possible setting, lid ajar for 25-30 minutes or until mung dal and rice is very soft.
  7. When kitchari is done turn off heat and let sit.
  8. Serve warm with a few pieces of fresh cilantro for garnish.


If you’re doing this cleanse and plan to eat it all day, portion out some kitchari to take to work in a thermos and eat it warm or at room temperature. Kitchari can easily be reheated in a small pot on the stove, just add some water and cook on low to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.

Enjoy this simple, nourishing cleanse! If you like it and want to be part of an amazing cleanse community please join our upcoming cleanse on the Spring Equinox in March. It’s a truly transformative experience.

Please check in and ask questions in the comment section. I look forward to hearing from you and supporting you this year!



PS //

For those of you that live in or near Los Angeles, I’ve teamed up with Communal to host our second Mindful Nourisment gathering on Jan. 31st from 5:30-9pm. We’re going to cook together, practice mindful eating, and share our experiences. It’s going to be amazing. Visit their website for all the details and to sign up. I would love to have you!


  • Emily

    Great post, thank you! I’m curious about the bay leaves, cloves and peppercorns. Do you need to strain them out at any point or do you just leave them in?

    • ashley

      Hey Emily wonderful question! The original recipe by Dr. Lad doesn’t specify what to do. I pick out the bay leaves when the kitchari is done. The cardamom pods, cloves, and peppercorns will become quite soft from the cooking. If they are soft enough I just eat them as is and if they are too crunchy I scrape them off to the side. In stock making I like to put these types of ingredients in a pouch that I can take right out when the stock is done. Kitchari is different though as it is really important to cook the spices in the ghee and allow them to release their properties into the dal and rice. Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you enjoy this recipe. Your house will smell amazing! xoa

  • Corina

    I was wanting to ask you for a book recommendation on Ayurveda cooking for a few weeks… and here it is! ;-) Thank you! Also, this recipe sounds so good, I wish you were in the food delivery service, ’cause I could eat it right away (even though there are leftovers of a Chinese rice pan with mungo beans in my kitchen, hah!). This one sounds so much healthier. I also have a question of the amount of water to drink during the cleanse. Since I am not familiar with ounces, is it 1/12 or 1/16 of half my body weight?

    • ashley

      Hi Cornia!
      Always love hearing from you. Yes, this is a fantastic book, a great place to start. It is half of your body weight in ounces. Here we measure weight in pounds, if you do a quick search for a conversion chart online I bet you can find one. Sorry I am not more help, math is totally not my strong suit!! Enjoy the recipe and have a wonderful evening. xoa

  • Jodi

    In love with this post, Ashley. I ‘ve never been one for big cleanses or diet resolutions in the new year, but it’s always around this time of year when I feel my body could use a little break. It’s that mid-winter rut I guess. This winter kitchari sounds perfect for me, I’ve been eating big bowls of brothy soups with lots of fragrant spices lately, something about all those flavors feels so nourishing. Thanking you for the lovely post + wishing you well xx

    • ashley

      Hello dear Jodi!
      Hope you are having a wonderful weekend. You said it so well and I relate to the body needing a little break. Your soups sound divine and I am huge fan of fragrant spices this time of year too. It just feels right you know? Lots of love to you! xoa

  • Nelson

    Just now finishing this two day experience and feeling very good. What steps should I take tomorrow in terms of eating and exercise while coming off of this cleanse? Also, I added some ground cinnamon atop the finished product to make it a little toastier and more breakfast-y. That doesn’t change anything, does it? Thank you for this amazing recipe and step by step guide!

    • ashley

      Hello Nelson!
      Thanks for sharing. I am thrilled to hear the cleanse has been such a good experience. Cinnamon is wonderful to add in the morning, it’s one of my favorite spices for regulating blood sugar. Continue to take it a little easier tomorrow as you transition. If possible have kitchari for 1 meal and eat your largest meal at lunch. A nice soup for dinner will be great and juices and smoothies as you are hungry. Pay attention to how you feel and exercise accordingly. It’s normal to have an energy spurt post cleanse, just don’t over do it with the exercise. Add it back in gradually the next two days and be sure to have a good post workout meal/smoothie to stay balanced. Reach out if you have further questions and have a wonderful week!

  • maya

    this came out super yummy. used ready-made ground spices (i’m not the grind-your-own type of gal. yet) and couldn’t find mung dal anywhere, so i used mung beans instead (came out a grayish-green instead of yellow). wouldn’t win any awards in the looks department, but it tasted great. thanks!

    • ashley

      So happy to hear it Maya! Ready made spices are fine to use as are much beans. I know what you mean about mung beans turning grayish but they sure taste good! They are a very alkalizing bean and easy to digest. Glad you enjoyed this recipe and wising you a beautiful Sunday. xoa

  • Daniela

    Hi Ashley!

    I loved your Kitchari recipe when I made it last year during one of your cleanses and I’m going to make it again today after reading this lovely post! For some reason I keep finding either whole mung beans (the green, non-hulled ones) or dry sprouted mung beans, as opposed to the split yellow ones.. Any thoughts on using these dried sprouted ones? I love fresh sprouts, but I’ve never really used dried sprouts. Also, do you ever use a rice cooker for kitchari? I’d love to hear your thoughts! As always, thanks so much for all the great information you post. Happy sunday!

    • ashley

      Hey Daniela! So great to hear from you! You can use the dried, split mung beans for sure. They will be great. Sometimes the split ones can be hard to find. Dried sprouted beans are great because they don’t need soaking and are easy on digestion. You can totally use a rice cooker for kitchari, makes things easier! Have a great week and thanks for checking in. xoa

  • Lola

    Hi Ashely,

    I did your cleanse a couple weeks ago with my boyfriend, and I was just wondering what your thoughts were on eating this as a meal separate from a cleanse. I love the way it tasted and how nourishing it felt for my body and my mind, that I wanted to make a big batch to bring as a lunch throughout the week. I got a little emotional on the cleanse and I was just wondering if you thought that were to happen if I just had the kitchari once a day. Also if you might recommend a similar recipe instead if you think this might be a bad idea? Thanks!


    • ashley

      Hey Lola!
      Great to hear from you. I am so happy you enjoyed the cleanse. It can be a little emotional, that is totally normal. I love to eat kitchari when I am not on a cleanse. For one meal a day it’s wonderful, especially in cooler months. It is great to eat as a meal anytime you feel you need extra nourishment and it’s also great if you feel like you are run down or getting sick. It’s very healing. Enjoy incorporating this into your lunch routine.
      Wishing you a wonderful week.

  • Pure Detox

    Starting your day with a healthy meal is important. It can improve one’s health as well as keeps your organs healthy.Make it a habit to eat healthy every day.

  • Ali

    I’ve read a few things about NOT refrigerating foods, including kitchari and to make it daily if possible. But I live in a tropical climate and anything not refrigerated will spoil very fast. Any thoughts on this ?

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