the taste space

Quinoa and Red Lentil Kitchari

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on June 29, 2011

A week ago was the big move. From condo to house. You wouldn’t believe how much can accumulate in a 1 bedroom apartment, especially when you have a fondness for cookbooks and dried beans. All my houseplants don’t make it that easy to move, either, but I was incredibly grateful for everyone’s help to move us into our new place.

When helping with a move,  there are ways to help even if you don’t have lots of muscle power (like me!). My mom, even though she can pump more weight than me by far, so thoughtfully, offered to help by making a veritable feast for everyone helping with the move. Everyone raved about the Mango BBQ Beans which were better this time with black eyed peas, and as usual my mom made a nice buttermilk-based coleslaw from America’s Test Kitchens, our family French Potato Salad, hummus with hamburgers and sausages for the carnivores.   As a forward-thinker, she made tons of food so there were leftovers. This way, Rob and I didn’t have to think about making food for a while. And feed our friends both lunch and dinner, since it took that long to help us move. :P

Once all the boxes were moved in, we made sure we had a bed with sheets so we could crash that night. My next priority room was the kitchen (it took 5 days for me to hook my laptop to the internet!). While pantry items are still all over the place in unpacked boxes, the major appliances, knives, cutlery, plates, spices, etc, have all found a place in the kitchen. I could wiggle my way around the kitchen by the end of the weekend which felt great.

The first meal I made in our new home was this Quinoa and Red Lentil Kitchari, adapted from The 30-Minute Vegan. I wanted something quick, tasty and healthy. This is an endlessly variable recipe, throwing in your favourite vegetables, mixing up the herbs, swapping the miso and ginger for lime juice or toasted sesame oil.


Kitchari, according to Reinfeld, is a healing meal according to Ayurveda, a traditional medicine from India. At its core, it is a mixture of two grains, in this case quinoa and red lentils, which both cook up quickly. Other recipes use mung beans and basmati rice with more traditional Indian flavours, but really anything goes.

This was a simple porridge-type stew, like a lentil-based dal with crunchy quinoa. Not only was this a great dish to eat, it was simple to prepare without too much fuss.  I could throw in any vegetable and work with the herbs in the garden, and the items I still had left in my fridge. In this version, you have great texture from the cabbage and colour from the carrots. We debated which flavour was more pronounced, but I thought the dill worked great with the hint of miso. My friend thought ginger was more prominent. In any case, we all enjoyed it.

When life seems to be so chaotic, it was great to come back to eat this and bring me back to some peace.  I just haven’t figured out the best place to photograph my meals in the new house! The scourge of an East-facing kitchen. ;)


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Cinzia from Cindystar.

Quinoa and Red Lentil Kitchari

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
5 cups water
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
250g cabbage, finely sliced or grated (2 cups)
250g carrot, chopped into small pieces (5 small carrots, or 1.5 cups)
1 tbsp miso
1/4 cup minced fresh dill (choose your favourite herb- basil, cilantro, parsley)
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Place quinoa, red lentils, onion, garlic and water in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Cover. After 10 minutes, add in cabbage and carrot and continue to cook, covered, until the liquid is absorbed, around 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The consistency should be slightly liquidy, so add more water if necessary.

2. Remove around 1/2 cup of liquid into a cup and mix in miso until it dissolves. Return to pot. Stir in dill, ginger and soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6.

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26 Responses

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  1. Nicole said, on June 29, 2011 at 8:26 AM

    I would love to try this, but am having a really hard time finding red lentils. Where do you get yours?

    • Saveur said, on June 29, 2011 at 8:33 AM

      Hey Nicole, They can be found in the regular grocery stores in my area. I personally go to Sunny’s, which is an ethnic grocery store, where the big ?2kg packages can go on sale for $2.

  2. Melly Made It said, on June 29, 2011 at 8:35 AM

    Hi Janet! Thanks for dropping in :)
    I am not writing for blogTO anymore though – was too much to handle at the time… but don’t you love hidden gems like that? I’m the worst though – I buy a bunch of fancy flours, don’t label them, swear I’ll remember what’s what and then three months later I have no clue. Ha!

    • Saveur said, on June 29, 2011 at 2:50 PM

      Heh, Mel, I am just like you! While cleaningn up for the move, I came across some white powder but its tag had fallen apart. I *think* it is cream of tartar, but who knows now! :)

      I have discovered how great it is to have a nice bulk store closeby – it is like having an extended pantry where the ingredients are always fresh. I can buy just what I need for each recipe without the need for hoarding. ;)

  3. Ricki said, on June 29, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    Congrats on the move! And hope the kitchen is now in full swing. ;)

    I loved kitchari when I had it (thanks so much for the link!) and haven’t had it in ages. Yours sounds delicous and very calming for some reason. . . . I think it’s time I cooked up another batch. :)

    • Saveur said, on June 29, 2011 at 2:51 PM

      Hey Ricki, When I am ever in doubt, I check your archives, and you have already posted a similar recipe! :) I love your creativity with all your dishes. :)

  4. Julia said, on June 29, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    Wow… this looks great, and so different from the Egyptian version, kushari/koshary. My brother lives there and eats a lot of it. :) I think there’s also an Anglo-Indian dish called kedgeree, too, which is also different! But it seems like the Ayurvedic dish is the oldest of the three, and it came to Egypt from India? I think it’s so fascinating how dishes like this travel.

    Adding dill and cabbage is really interesting–it almost gives it an Eastern European flavor! :)

    • Saveur said, on June 29, 2011 at 2:54 PM

      Hey Julia,
      Koshari is also on my list of things I want to try making for a while (including this oh so bastardized but looks so delicious one here). While the names seemed familiar, I never really put 2-and-2 together that they were related. Neato! And kedgeree, too. Thanks for sharing!

      • Julia said, on June 29, 2011 at 2:55 PM

        Oh yum, wild rice and cilantro would be great in that!

  5. Joanne said, on June 29, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    congrats on the move babe! It sounds arduous and exhausting but you got through it! Probably due to good nourishing delicious food like this! A powerhouse of nutrition and good flavors.

    • Saveur said, on June 29, 2011 at 2:55 PM

      Trust me, great food definitely brings you further. I feel bad because my brother moved the following weekend and the didn’t have anyone to cook for them… :( Am I a bad sister or what? :P

  6. Priya said, on June 29, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    Looks super delicious and comforting, congrats on the move..

  7. Priya Yallapantula said, on June 29, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    Sounds superb and so healthy !!!

  8. [...] the following weekend, there was the move. From separate apartments to a single house. Combining of lives. Living out of boxes and [...]

  9. Ashley said, on July 26, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    Our apartment is East facing so I can totally empathize with your light issues. Silly me, I wanted an East facing apartment so it wouldn’t be too hot but didn’t think about how it would effect food photography haha. I’ve never heard of kitchari before. Love the sound of cooking quinoa and lentils together.

  10. Ashley said, on July 26, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    Your house plants look so lush and healthy!!! Mine sadly do not look as good. My corn plant in particular never seems happy.

  11. Diana said, on August 10, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    Congratulations on your move! Indeed the big feast at the end of the move marks your very first, albeit casual, dinner party! :) I can only imagine how delicious the French Potato Salad, hummus with hamburgers and sausages tasted after a day of hard work moving boxes! :)

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