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Lunch Flask Kitchari

It’s hard to find time rushing in the morning before work and school, but if you can make a few moments to throw together sandwiches to brown-bag for lunch, then there’s enough time for an incredibly filling, nutritious soup. This is an ayurvedic (ancient Indian system of health) take-to-work lunch, a single serving so large you can enjoy a few spoons of it later as a guilt-free afternoon snack. My version is vegan.

This is for a single serving. Easy to double, but use 3 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 teaspoons spice; you can always top off the thermal flasks with a little more boiling water.

  • Hot water for preheating thermal flasks
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground Indian spice blend, such as curry powder, garam masala or an ayurvedic churna
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup split mung beans OR red lentils, inspected and rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon brown rice OR other grain such as pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped vegetables, frozen OK

Fill a wide-mouth quart or liter vacuum jar half full of very hot water to preheat. This recipe makes just over a pint of soup, but initially it takes more space. Preheating the Thermos a few minutes is the key step to this recipe’s success.

For time’s sake, starting heating the 2 cups water, perhaps in a kettle, while gathering the other ingredients.

Have legumes, grain, spice mixture and vegetables ready by stove. Heat small saucepan on medium 2 minutes. Add oil then spices and salt, and saute, stirring, just 5 seconds. Add the water, legumes and grain. Increase heat to high. Bring to vigorous boil. Add vegetables and return to vigorous boil. Altogether the cooking should take about 3 minutes. Simmering a couple more minutes won’t hurt a thing.

Empty hot water from vacuum jar. Carefully spoon soup from pan into it and screw on top. The soup will be cooked in no less than 3 hours.

Fat-free version: Omit the oil, sauté nothing, and add the spices and salt along with the vegetables, legumes and grain to the water.

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Adapted by Ben S. Pollock from Lunch Flask Lunch in The Raj Recipe Book, from The Raj Ayurvedic Health Center in Fairfield, Iowa.

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