Fall is upon us and it is a time for cooking soups and stews. Kitchari is my favorite anytime foods and adding butternut squash, as in this recipe, makes it perfect for cool fall days and night. Kitchari can be eaten hot for breakfast, lunch, or dinner so I suggest making the full recipe. The mung dal adds protein, so no need to cook a meat on the side. (Side note: Golden mung dal or yellow split mung beans can be found at most Indian grocers or online at Banyan Botanicals. I haven't found a good substitute if you cannot find the dal.) Just before eating add shredded coconut, a squeeze of lemon or lime, and some cilantro.
2 Tablespoons oil (I like ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 T fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 t. turmeric
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces (Low on time? Buy already peeled and chopped butternut squash or use frozen butternut squash. Add frozen same as fresh.)
1 cup golden mung dal, rinsed
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
6 cups water (add more if you would like the kitchari to be softer or more soupy)
1 cup coconut milk
2 t. ground coriander
2T. lemon juice
2 t. salt
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (Feel free to be fancy and use just the leaves, or to chop and discard the end of the stems and then chop leaves and attached stems and add. Still delicious, but much quicker.)
1. In a large saucepan or pot heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 10 minutes, (until onions are soft and golden). Add the fennel seeds, cumin, and turmeric and saute for 2 more minutes (until you smell the spices).
2. Add butternut squash, golden mung dal, rice, and water. Cover. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer over low heat for 45-60 minutes until the dal and rice are very soft and dissolving. Stir occasionally.
3. Stir in the coconut milk, coriander, lemon juice, and salt. Heat through.
4. Serve hot with fresh cilantro, shredded coconut, a squeeze of lemon or lime, and salt.
A note about cooking mung dal: You may notice some foaming when you cook the mung dal (and by that I mean you may notice some, or your pot may be overflowing with foam!). This is not a chemical. You do not need to throw out the dal or try to wash it again. It is the natural protective coating around the dal cooking and releasing. It is not harmful, but you may skim it from the top and toss it in the sink if you wish.