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Kitchari & the Six Tastes

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Kitchari is THE cleansing food in Ayurveda. Simple yet nourishing, kitchari is gentle on the digestive system, giving the organs a break while still providing the body with nutrients and energy. Every Ayurvedic practitioner has at least one recipe for kitchari, so what I am sharing today is nothing new. However, by explaining the six tastes and how to use them to balance the doshas, I hope to provide some easy-to-understand guidelines on how to adapt this versatile recipe to suit your doshic needs.

Kitchari is basically a split mung bean and basmati rice porridge. Both when cooked absorb lots of water and break down easily in the body. The combination also contains the amino acids needed to make a complete protein. Spices are added to enhance digestibility. Ghee is added for added nourishment. Vegetables are also often added according to which dosha needs balancing.

The question is, what vegetables should we use? By referring to the qualities of the six tastes, we can determine which choices are best for vata, pitta, or kapha. The six tastes are:

  1. Sweet - heavy, cool, grounding, moist. The sweet taste is the most tonifying - it helps build tissues and maintain/build body mass. Potatoes and carrots would be considered sweet. Licorice is a sweeter spice.

  2. Salty - Moist, warm, sharp. The salty taste helps increase appetite and to retain moisture. Kelp and celery are two typically salty vegetables.