My friend Savita made kitchari for me after my first child was born. It’s an essential ayurvedic dish made with mung lentils and rice, standard during cleanses that is supposed to be healing and easy to digest. Savita added kale and a bit of coconut milk to her version, and I loved it, the gesture, and the flavor. I soon made it for my friends when they had babies, adding more coconut milk to each batch I made. By the time I made it for the school lunch program I had helped design, it was rich with coconut milk and without kale, but still nourishing and delicious.
ghee (3 Tbs.)
1-2 arbol chilies
1-2 onions depending on size, small dice
1-inch nub of ginger, peeled and minced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 cardamom pods
2-3 Tbs. cumin
1 Tbs. coriander
1 tbs mustard seeds (in a dry pan over low heat, toast mustard seeds just until they start to pop, then remove them from pan immediately)
2-3 cups yellow mung lentils, rinsed
2 cups brown basmati rice
1 large can coconut milk
4 x water
1 or 2 bunch kale (some mustard green is good too, but maybe too sharp for some kids)
Melt ghee in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add chilies. Let chilies flavor ghee as you cut the onions, ginger, and garlic. Add those 3 to the ghee and sweat (cook to translucent, no color). once the onion mix is cooked (or nearly cooked), add cardamom pods, cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, tumeric. (all these spices are already toasted, so you don't have to cook them, but stir them into onion mix and enjoy the smell.) add lentils and rice. Stir to coat with all the good stuff. cover with coconut milk and water. (cover by probably 2 inches... you need at least 3 xs liquid to rice and lentil amount.) simmer and partially cover. Add chopped kale and some salt once the stuff has been simmering for a bit (doesn't really matter just depends how soft and broken down you want it or don't want it). Stir occasionally and add more water as necessary. Adjust seasoning at the end.