This week is Navaratri, a nine day festival celebrated by Hindus of Indian origin all over the world. Navaratri literally means “nine nights”. It is celebrated for nine nights and ten days in the beginning of autumn. The festival culminates in Dusshera, which symbolizes the victory of good over evil. According to Hindu mythology, Dusshera was the day when Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahishasur and Lord Rama gained victory over the evil king Ravana.
Navaratri is also the time when a lot of people perform fasts and abstain from certain types for food. Usually people avoid meat, fish or poultry, eggs, any dish with onions, garlic etc. On certain days people do not eat food cooked with grains like rice or wheat. So fasting food (food eaten during fasts) usually contains alternate grains like sago, semolina or khus khus and beans like Bengal grams. A popular vegetable for fasting is potato (both regular and sweet). Also many people do not cook food using table salt and instead use a kind of rock salt called sindhav namak. Below is a list of five foods recipes that can be cooked and eaten during Navaratri. A more detailed list can be obtained from a previous article from examiner archives
1. Sabudana khichri
Sabudana or sago is a white pearl like grain and the product of Sago palm. Sabudana has to be soaked in water for a couple of hours before use. A simple gruel or khichri with sabudana, lentils and peas is ideal food for fasting.
- 1 cup sabudana (soaked in 2 cups water for 2-3 hours)
- ½ cup yellow mung daal
- 1 cup peas
- 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 red chili
- 1 tsp sindhav namak
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 tsp ghee
Heat 1 tsp ghee in a pan and add jeera and red chilies. Add the mung daal and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add 2 cups water and boil till the daal is partially cooked. Add peas and the sabudana (after draining the water). Cook for 15 minutes till both the daal and sabudana are cooked (add extra water if too dry). Add salt and sugar and 1 tsp ghee before serving.
2. Sabudana kheer
Sabudana is also good for making milk pudding or kheer. Sabudana kheer is full of nutrition and good for fasting people, kids and lactating mothers.
- 1 cup sabudana (soaked in water for 2 -3 hours)
- 1 qt whole milk
- 2 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
Boil milk till it is reduced by one third. Now add sabudana and cardamom powder and cook till the sabudana is well cooked. Add sugar and cook for 5 more minutes. Sabudana thickens after cooking, so do not make the kheer too thick.
3. Rawa khichri
Rawa is semolina flour. A simple khichri or gruel made with semolina and vegetables can be eaten on Sashti or day 6 when one abstains from grains like rice or wheat flour. It is a popular Navaratri dish from South India.
- 1 cup Rawa (or sooji)
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 red chilies
- 2-3 curry leaves
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2-3 chopped green chilies
- 3 cups water
Heat ghee in a pan and add mustard seeds, red chilies and curry leaves. Now fry the vegetables till they are soft. Add salt, ginger paste and sugar. Next, add the raw sooji and roast it for 4-5 minutes. Add 3 cups water and cook till the semolina is cooked. Add chopped chilies and serve warm with coconut chutney
4. Fried Sweet potoatoes
This is a popular fasting food in northern India. Wash, peal and dice sweet potatoes. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Now add the sweet potatoes and fry in batches till they are golden in color. Season with sindhav salt, chaat masala and a dash of lime juice. Serve hot.
5. Boiled Black Chana
Black Chana or Bengal gram is another food good for fasting. It is rich in protein and lots of people in North India eat poori, halwa and boiled chana during Navaratri especially during Ashtami. To make boiled chana soak 2 cups black chana (Bengal grams) in water overnight. Pressure cook the soaked chana along with 2 tsp sindhav salt. Serve warm and sprinkle some chaat masala on top for added flavor.