Fast and Feast
It’s the time of the year when lights, decorations, song, dance, and food make an appearance together. The Indian festive season is in full bloom and ready to stun all with sparkling energy.
This mega festive period kicked off with Navratri and culminates with the biggest of all, Diwali. While, all festivals are marked with huge feasts and tables laden with mesmerizing sweets and savories, Navratri has a twist of its own. This is a festival where the lively tunes of garba and dandiya amalgamate with faith and fasting.
Navratri is celebrated all over India with pomp and show. Different stories and celebration traditions are followed across the length and breadth of this diverse nation. But, one thing in common is the practice of fasting. While, some fast for religious reasons others take it up as a detoxification challenge. The nine day Navratri period is marked with a no-salt selective grain diet. Meat, alcohol, grains, onion and garlic are a strict no. So, do Indians starve during this period? Not! You see Indians love their food and are kind of creative when it comes to their cuisine. So, Navratri has managed to create its own distinctive menu. These special meals prepared offer a variety of delicacies for those fasting. They are lavish, and full of flavors.
Surely you are wondering by now, what this special Navratri menu entails?
Sabudana or Sago is one of the most sought after preparations during the fast period. It can either take the shape of khichdi, fritters or kheer. While, the first two are savories, the last one is a sweet alternative. Sago is a pure source of carbohydrate and offers instant energy.
Rajgira or amaranth is a grain that is consumed during the fasting period. It is a high source of protein. Rajgira can be used to make a yummy porridge with milk or turned into a savory with vegetables for company.
Potatoes are a favorite during the fasting period. From potato curries, fritters to sweets, no fast or feast is complete without them. Cottage cheese or paneer is another ingredient, which is extremely popular in preparations during the fast season.
But, if there is one condiment that wins hands down, it is the yogurt mix- raita. It cools down, re-energizes and comes with a burst of flavors. Thick creamy yogurt is the main ingredient here and it finds company in a variety of vegetables, fruits and spices. One of the most popular raita recipes is grated cucumber, topped with freshly roasted cumin seeds and red chilli powder. Raita often combines a medley of flavors and textures. From cucumber, beetroot, potatoes to fruits like pineapple, jackfruit or apple, raita is prepared in varied forms to suit a diverse palate.
It becomes essential to stay hydrated during the fasting period. Thus, miracle drinks like milk, green tea, coconut water, lemon water, buttermilk and fresh juices are in high demand.
Fasting and feasting are part and parcel of the festive period in India. This land of flavors and spices has devised enough luscious recipes to turn the fasting period into a treat for all.