Wednesday, April 13, 2016

From the land of incredible diversity and peace~The Navratri Special

A time for prayer and introspection. A time for spiritual awakening and detox. Fasting during religious festivals increases will power, and helps strengthen the mind, body and soul.Abstaining from food brings in control , of the senses and over our desires. There are people who cannot stay totally hungry, because of ill health or medication. Pregnant and lactating moms too cannot keep away from food completely. The recipes for the food that can be eaten, are innumerable. A few have been mentioned in the first part of this post. The rest I will mention here.I am open to suggestions, feel free to put in your bit.

RECIPES OF FOODS THAT CAN BE EATEN WHILE  FASTING :Having said the above, we must be careful that we do not overload ourselves with too much of food. Eating at short intervals and keeping hydrated with juices, fluids and water is a good idea for the body to feel light.
1. Fruits :All fruits can be consumed, so naturally the fleshy seasonal produce can at times be substituted for a meal.
Fruits can be partaken in the form of salad, with salt, pepper, lime, and a wee bit sugar(brown sugar/demerara). Optional to add dry fruits, cranberry, pumpkin and melon seeds to it. It increases the satiating ans its nutritive value. Makes it a crunchy, sumptuous meal.
2. Use of Jaggery : Jaggery is a yum substitute to the processed sugar, that is unhealthy.Use it in the tea too if required. My mother in law would try and avoid cooking up too many sweets during this period. But one thing that she did make was Amaranth(also called Ramdana or Rajgir) and jaggery sweet balls. : One of my favourites. As an aside, you must know that amaranth seeds of the amaranth flower have been widely used as a snack or porridge in India. It is gluten free, has loads of Calcium, Iron, magnesium and other vitamins. -They are small seeds that need to be popped in a well heated pan, little by little( a spoon at a time), else many will remain unpopped, or if you put a whole cup in the pan, its going to pop out of it and become a merry mess all over the kitchen. Strain it once its done to sieve out the unpopped seeds. Which can be used later as a porridge, or in any other snack.
- Heat the jaggery in a few spoons of pure ghee, add water, and make it into a liquid. Strain( to keep the impurities in the jaggery away) and pour the liquid in the popped amaranth, add (optionally)chopped dry fruits, dates( less, else it will become very sweet).
-Mix the whole mass well, and while it is hot,make it into round balls. 
3. Another tasty meal is the barnyard millet (also called sama or vrat ke chawal)pulao.: -wash and soak the millet in water, like we do to rice.
-Heat a tablespoon of pure ghee in a pan, add curry leaves, green chili, a pinch of cumin, red chili powder, rock salt, diced and cubed potatoes, peanuts, cardamom, cinnamon, all of this to be mildly stirred.
-add the millet and cook it in one and a half times of water.
-Garnish with green coriander and enjoy it as a pulao.
4. Pakoras (fritters) : This is a deep fried snack and can be avoided. But for those who fast for all nine days, it can make a meal for a couple of days. These fritters, are made with pumpkin, potato, green chili, all chopped and added in a mixture of Buckwheat (Kuttu) flour, or waterchestnut (Singhara) flour, and deep fried till golden brown. Enjoy with green chutney or curd to make it more wholesome. 
5. Papadam and other munchies   or papad of sago, potato, tapioca, can be enjoyed as a side dish with any meal or just as a snack in the evening with tea. These could be roasted or fried. In my moms home they are fried and feasted on.
French fries, roasted and salted peanuts, Makhana (lotus seeds), Banana fritters are a few other edibles to snack on. 
6. Milk and milk products : Milk is a complete meal in itself. Milk, curd, cottage cheese (home made), Sweet delicacies of milk, all can be consumed. But for those who are lactose intolerant, vegan, or find that milk can create bloating, its best to avoid. Yogurt though is a great meal, especially if one adds boiled potato, salt, red chili powder, roasted cumin powder, in it.   
7. Drinks :  Staying hydrated is important. Lemon juice, other fruit juices, coconut water, milk shakes, butter milk, Lassi, all of these can be enjoyed too.

With all the foods that can be had, there are an amazing number of variations. To just let you know that there are baked dishes, made out of potato,Taro root (arbi) and more, which my friends have as an effort towards healthier options. I can actually go on and on. But since fasting is done for a purpose, abide by it. By all means eat at set times of the day and make it frugal. Fasting makes you feel good about yourself,and because you have controlled your cravings, there is a feeling of accomplishment.It also educates you on your eating habits and 'coz its about disciplining too.
With this I end my attempt at providing ideas for a few common but yum meals for those who are fasting. And for those who aren't, can still enjoy it if it's made in the house. 

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