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Pushpa Soundararajan

Registered Dietitian

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Cream of Wheat Kitchadi (South Indian dish with an Ayurvedic flavor)



This is a simple, yet satisfying dish commonly made for breakfast in South India. This is called Upma when it is more solid and Kitchadi when it is made more liquidy in the South. In North India, kitchadi is made with a combination of rice and moong dal (moong beans) and is commonly used in Ayurvedic cooking. That is commonly referred to as Pongal in the South and is laced with a lot of ghee.

Restaurants in the South make it into a somewhat pudding consistency, with a lot of veggies and chillies. It is very easy to make and can be modified to the taste of the cook. In this recipe I have added cumin and black pepper to increase the digestibility and give it an Ayurvedic flavor, although the traditional recipe does not call for these spices.


In the West, Cream of wheat is commonly made for breakfast as a sweet version with milk and sugar which makes it heavy and not necessarily healthy if you have chronic illnesses. This version is savory with added spices that help with digestion. Black pepper and cumin increase the Agni (digestive fire), turmeric gives it its rich color while contributing anti-inflammatory properties and Hing (Asafoetida) helps with gas and bloating. Curry leaves enhance the flavor and help with digestion as well.


Ingredients: 2 cups of course suji or cream of wheat (Rawa) 2 tbsp olive oil 2 tsp ghee (clarified butter) 1 cup red onion finely chopped 1 1/2 cup tomatoes finely chopped 1/2 jalapeños pepper sliced (optional) 2 tsp mustard seeds 2 tsps channa dal (bengal gram lentil) 2 tsps urad dal (black gram lentil) 2 tbsp chopped cashews (optional) 2 tsp ground cumin and black pepper 1 tsp turmeric powder 1 pinch of Hing (Asafoetida) A few curry leaves fresh if you have 2 cups of water or as needed 1/4 cup lemon juice concentrate or juice of 1 lemon squeezed Servings per recipe: 6 Serving size: 1 cup Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 15 - 20 minutes

Cooking Method:

  1. Heat water in a sauce pan separately. Bring to a boil.

  2. Heat the oil and ghee in a wok or sauté pan. 

  3. Add mustard seeds and let it crackle.

  4. Then add the channa dal, urad dal, hing, curry leaves and cashews one by and continuing frying. 

  5. When it is golden brown, add the turmeric and ground powder, sauté a few more seconds.

  6. Next add the chopped onions and stir fry until translucent. Then add the peppers.

  7. Add the cream of wheat and roast for 2-3 minutes such that it coated with the oil.

  8. Add salt to taste.

  9. Add the chopped tomatoes and continue to mix.

  10. Then add the boiling water and blend everything together while the stove is in medium flame. Make sure it has enough water to cook.

  11. Cover and let it cook for a few minutes, stirring in between so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

  12. Continue until it is thoroughly cooked, approximately 10 - 15 minutes. 

  13. Turn off the stove. Add the lemon juice and mix thoroughly. 

  14. Serve hot and fresh with pickles, chutney or sambhar. Some people like a bit of sugar. Use raw sugar with ghee on the side if you crave the calories or sweet taste. (Not for Kaphas)

  15. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Variations:

Add peas, shredded carrots, cauliflower, beans or any veggie of your choice to make it even more nutritious with added fiber, while reducing the carbohydrate quantity per serving while lowering glycemic load.

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