I’ve always loved Indian cuisine.
However, let me first say few kind words about Indian people. I was in India twice, both times in Northern Goa, and I can’t express how much I was delighted and was enjoying the fact that every person I met on my way, no matter rich or poor, despite his or her profession, whether she was a cook, a street seller, a taxi driver or a teacher, everyone was very kind, very caring and open-hearted. Every time I looked at anyone I received a kind sincere smile (yes, like toothless Ketut Liyer’s in ‘Eat Pray Love’ book by Elizabeth Gilbert and the movie starring Julia Roberts). And when you are imbued by some nation, you want to learn more about its culture, traditions and cuisine.
Due to India’s geographical location, its culinary is mainly represented by grains, spices and vegetables which are harvested all year round and are affordable. Indian dishes are vibrant, rich and tasteful, Indians love to mix flavors and use a lot of different spices, up to 20 in one dish, isn’t it amazing? They love spices more than any other Asian people and there’s a lot we can learn from Indian chefs.
Food in Goa was very cheap but it was delicious and it was both very simple and very complicated at the same time. I got to know new vegetables, like bamia (okra) which is incredibly health beneficial and goes perfectly well with tomatoes. I also fell in love with paneer (unsalted white fresh cheese) which is one of Indian’s main ingredients and is part of hundreds of adorable dishes.
Indian meals often consist of a thick soup-sauce or a sauce which are served with rice or various indian breads like naan, chapati and roti. Kitchari which was my inspiration for today’s meal is a healthy Ayurvedic dish which consists of rice, split mung beans or lentils, vegetables and spices, and everything is fried with ghee butter.
I decided to make my own vegan version of Kitchari and adjusted it accordingly. Instead of classic basmati rice I chose brown rice which is more healthy, I also used red and yellow lentils mix and substituted ghee butter with canola oil. I also added some homemade oat milk to make the stew less thick. And of course I used plenty of spices: onion, garlic, ginger, jeera, coriander, curry, turmeric, mustard seeds, chili, salt and pepper. Eleven flavors, guys! And all of these feel really comfortable with each other.
Let’s go and make it!
The dish is delicious, bright and rich. Since red lentils have the property of becoming puree-like, kitchari looks a little rough and smeared, but don’t let it bother you, it’s the taste that matters! And honestly, it’s hard to stop eating it!