mung bean stew
Crock Pot,  Dairy Free,  Detox,  Dinner,  Gluten Free,  Instant Pot,  Liver Cleanse,  Soup,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

Ayurveda Kichari | Mung Bean Soup (GF/DF/V)

Ayurveda Kichari is a balancing staple food of Ayurveda. It is served regularly at clinics all over the world because it both cleanses and nourishes the body without supporting imbalances of any kind. Typically it is a one pot meal with mung beans and rice and a rotating selection of vegetables and spices depending on the season.

Ayurveda 101

Ayurveda is loosely translated as “the science of life.” It is considered the oldest formal health system in the world. It started over 5,000 years ago in India and still thrives as a holistic health practice all over the world today. If you know a little about Ayurveda, you know it is all about naturally supporting the balance of energies within the body through food, herbs, bodywork and lifestyle practices.

The world operates in a rhythm. Just think about the rhythm of the sun, the oceans, the moon and the seasons. Ayurveda believes that we also operate in a rhythm and when we stray too far from that rhythm we become out of balance and disease states can occur. Ayurveda views the body as being formed of the 5 elements: air, space, fire, water and earth. It also believes in 3 energies called doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. We want to make sure that all of these energies are balanced. When one or more is out of balance, our life is also out of balance. In our modern society, we all tend to be a bit off balance. Am I right? We all have what is called a “dosha type” which just means the energy that we tend to have too much of. We can take a look at these a little closer:

Vata

Vata is the energy of movement. Healthy vata insures that the body has consistent elimination, free breathing, good circulation and keen senses. But if we have too many vata qualities, we might see gas and constipation, constricted breathing, anxiety, or cold hands and feet.

Pitta

Pitta is the energy of transformation. Healthy pitta is responsible for good appetite and metabolism, steady hormones, sharp eyesight, comprehension and good skin tone. But high (imbalanced) pitta could cause acid reflux, dysmenorrhea, red dry eyes, acne or other skin problems or a tendency to overwork themselves.

Kapha

Kapha is the energy of cohesion. It provides a strong body, well lubricated joints and mucous membranes, and a hearty immune system. But if out of balance you might see weight gain, water retention, sinus or lung problems, lethargy or depression.

Ayurveda Philosophy & Book Recommendations

Ayurveda recommends certain eating and lifestyle practices to straighten out these imbalances. One thing they always recommend is eating with the seasons. For example, in the spring, the body needs light foods. In the winter, the body needs rich fatty nourishing foods. They also recommend seasonal cleansing, which includes everyday kichari like the recipe you see here (more on why it’s cleansing below). And there are specific recommendations to help fix any dosha imbalances. Ayurveda goes further to fostering agni (digestion), prana (life energy) and ojas (immunity).

There is a lot more to Ayurveda than this, but I am just giving you a glimpse into this really cool ancient health system. A few years ago, I took a yoga retreat vacation in the mountains of Costa Rica where I learned a lot about Ayurveda and their philosophy. Intrigued, I came home and read a bunch of books on the subject. If you are interested in learning more, here are some of the books I liked best:

  • Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom by Acharya Shunya
  • The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook by Kate O’Donnell
  • The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies by Vasant Lad

Why Is Kichari Considered Cleansing

The main ingredient in kitchari is mung beans. Mung beans (or yellow lentils) are a legume that has been used for centuries in traditional and ancient medicine to cleanse the liver. Why? They have special enzymes which enhance the detoxification process involving the biosynthesis of phenolic compounds. Mung beans also produce several liver protective compounds including flavinoids and chlorogenic acid.

The Health Benefits of Mung Beans

Mung beans are a great source of plant based protein. They are high in various amino acids such as phenylalanine, leucine, isoleucine, valine, lysine, and arginine. They are also high in folate, maganese, magnesium, B vitamins, phosphorus, iron, copper, potassium, zinc and selenium. They have been used for thousands of years to help cure chronic diseases. Mung beans are eaten stewed, stir fried and sprouted. It’s important to note that sprouting the seeds increases their antioxidant value and reduces the anti nutrient phytic acid (which prevents our body from absorbing all the nutrients in the food.)

Specifically, mung beans have shown to be:

  • The easiest legume to digest.
  • Enhances detoxification of the liver by
  • Protects the liver from damage (it has even been shown to reduce fatty deposits in the liver)
  • Can reduce hepatic stenosis, fibrosis and inflammation in those with Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • High in resistant starch which is good for your microbiome and digestive health.
  • High in antioxidants which fight free radicals in the body and can help reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Preventative for heat stroke (mung bean soup is often consumed on hot summer days in Asia for this reason.)
  • Anti-hypertensive and has specific enzymes that can lower blood pressure.
  • Anti-diabetic. Mung beans are high in fiber and protein which slows down the release of blood sugar into the blood stream and has specific antioxidants which can lower blood sugar and help insulin work more effectively.
  • Anti-hyperlipidemic. Daily consumption can lower your “bad” cholesterol LDL.
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anticancer, anti-tumor and anti-mutagenic
  • May help with satiety. A review of 9 studies found people who eat legumes are 31% more full after a meal.

Ready to try them? I turned mine into a delicious bowl of comfort food, loaded with indian spices. I added coconut milk for some creaminess and topped it all with a bit of fresh veggies and herbs. Enjoy!

mung bean stew

Ayurvedic Kichari (Rice Free)

This simple mung bean soup can be made in an instant pot, slow cooker or a good old fashioned soup pot.
Course Main Course, Soup
Servings 8 people

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups yellow mung beans (dal) soaked overnight
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tbs fresh tumeric, minced
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbs dried cumin
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 2 tbs garam masala
  • 5 cups broth of your choice I used bone broth, but vegetable broth works well too if you are plant based
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, washed and chopped
  • 5 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk

Instructions
 

Instapot Recipe

  • Turn the instapot to "saute" and cook coconut oil, shallots, ginger, tumeric and garlic until soft.
  • Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  • Pressure cook for 5 minutes, longer (10 minutes) if you didn't soak your mung beans. Let vent naturally before opening the lid.
  • Scoop out the fat of the coconut milk and stir into the soup. Adjust seasonings as needed. Add a bit of water if it's too thick for your liking.

If Using Crockpot

  • Turn on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.

If Using Soup Pot

  • Yellow mung beans should cook in about 30 minutes.

Notes

Note: If you use green mung beans, they will take about twice as long to cook.
rice free mung bean stew

References

Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2015. Plants Consumption and Liver Health.

Food Science and Human Wellness. 2018. A critical review on phytochemical profile and health promoting effects of mung bean (Vigna radiata).

Journal of Food Sciences. 2007. Chemical composition and antioxidant activity of seeds of different cultivars of mungbean.

Plant Foods For Human Nutrition. 2012. Total polyphenols, antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of different extracts in mungbean seeds and sprouts.

PLOS1. 2007. Antioxidant properties of the mung bean flavonoids on alleviating heat stress.

Food Chemistry. 2012. Identification of the flavonoids in mungbean (Phaseolus radiatus L.) soup and their antioxidant activities.

Evidence Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. 2015. In Vivo Antioxidant and Hypolipidemic Effects of Fermented Mung Bean on Hypercholesterolemic Mice.

Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease. 2011. Non-soy legume consumption lowers cholesterol levels: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Food and Nutrition Research. 2018. Mung bean proteins and peptides: nutritional, functional and bioactive properties.

Trends in Food and Science Technology. 2002. Resistant starch and “the butyrate revolution”

Science of Food and Agriculture. 2013. Biofortification of mungbean (Vigna radiata) as a whole food to enhance human health.

Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 2008. Antidiabetic activity of Mung bean extracts in diabetic KK-Ay mice.

Evidence Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. 2014. The active role of leguminous plant components in type 2 diabetes.

Obesity. 2014. Dietary pulses, satiety and food intake: a systematic review and meta-analysis of acute feeding trials.

Cholesterol Lowering and Liver Protective Effects of Mung Beans

Journal of Nutrition. 2017. Dietary Mung Bean Protein Reduces Hepatic Steatosis, Fibrosis, and Inflammation in Male Mice with Diet-Induced, Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.

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