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Elyse Kopecky’s Red Lentil Kitchari Recipe

This vegan, gluten-free recipe from two-time New York Times best-selling author Elyse Kopecky is soothing, nourishing, and absolutely delicious.

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Kitchari is an Ayurvedic healing recipe that is nourishing and soothing to digestion. It’s traditionally made with mung dal, but I make my variation with red lentils, which are easier to find and inexpensive. It’s deliciously flavored with digestion-enhancing spices. I like to stir in a little coconut milk for added richness, but you can substitute bone broth (or water) if your digestion really needs a break. 

If you don’t have all of the spices below on hand you can leave out one or two. Just don’t skimp on the fresh ginger and cilantro for the added anti-inflammatory benefits. 

For a protein boost, top this lentil-rice dish with a fried egg or sautéed sausage or serve with grilled chicken. 

Red Lentil Kitchari Recipe

Vegan. Gluten-free. Serves 5

1 cup red lentils

1 cup basmati rice

2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

1/2 yellow onion, chopped 

2 carrots, peeled, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped 

1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided

2 teaspoons ground cumin 

1 teaspoon ground turmeric 

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon ground coriander, optional

5 cups water or low sodium broth

1 cup canned coconut milk (if separated, stir before measuring)

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

chopped cilantro, garnish, optional

chili oil, sriracha, lemon or lime wedge, garnish, optional 


Soak the lentils and rice in water for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly using a fine mesh sieve and drain well. 

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, 6 minutes.

Add the cumin, turmeric, fennel, and coriander (if using). Cook briefly for 30 seconds, stirring continuously. Immediately add the water or broth to prevent the spices from burning. 

Stir in the lentils, rice, coconut milk, bay leaves, ginger, and remaining teaspoon of salt. 

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring every 5 minutes, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the rice is soft and the lentils completely blend in.

Remove bay leaf. If too thick, stir in more water or coconut milk to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Divide between bowls. Garnish with cilantro, if using and a spicy condiment or a slice of lemon or lime, if desired. 

Leftovers: Store for up to 4 days in the fridge. Kitchari will thicken as it cools. Stir in a little water and reheat in the microwave or over low heat on the stovetop. This recipe freezes really well. Got leftover coconut milk? You can also freeze it for future recipes. 

Elyse Kopecky is a nutrition coach, chef, and two-time New York Times best-selling author. In her new exclusive “Food Is Fuel” monthly column, the co-author of Run Fast. Eat Slow. and Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. will explore everything women want to know about how to fuel—from breakfast to snacks, to recovery, and on-the-go foods. Have a topic you’d like to have Elyse talk about? Email us at

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