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Navratri is a nine-day festival dedicated to Goddess Durga and her forms, which is followed by Dussehra or Vijayadashami on the tenth day. It is celebrated with great fervour across the Indian subcontinent and around the world.
Many Hindus fast during this period and restrict their intake to fruits, vegetables and milk products. They avoid eating wheat, rice, chickpea flour, semolina, legumes, non-vegetarian foods, onions, garlic, some spices, and alcohol. They also usually eat only once in the day, after evening prayers.
Some special flours are used for the preparation of such meals like kuttu ka atta or buckwheat flour, singhare ka atta or waterchestnut flour, rajgire ka atta or amaranth millet flour, sama ke chawal ka atta or barnyard millet flour, sabudana or sago. Some vegetables like taro or arbi, potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and yams are also used.
This Hindu fasting ritual is to show their devotion towards Goddess Durga, or Shakti, who is considered the divine strength behind all mortals and the universe. Many women break their fast on the 8th or 9th day after worshipping nine young girls, who each represent the nine forms of the Goddess, washing their feet, offering them food, bangles, etc.
Here are a few recipes which can be cooked during the fasting period for the evening meal. They are very simple recipes and can be prepared with easily available ingredients.
Each community has its own list of ingredients that are allowed during the fasting period, so it’s best to check with your elders regarding what is allowed to be eaten.
Sweet and spicy pumpkin curry
2 tbsp ghee
1 small piece of ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
½ kg Kent pumpkin
¼ cup crushed groundnuts
Dice the pumpkin into small pieces and steam for 8-10 minutes.
Crush the groundnuts coarsely in a food processor.
In a pan, heat the ghee and add the cumin seeds and ginger. Once the cumin seeds splutter, add the crushed groundnuts, and toast for 2-3 minutes.
Add the diced pumpkin to the pan, followed by salt and sugar.
Let it cook for 5-7 minutes. Mix the pumpkin slowly or the pieces will break.
Turn off the heat, serve warm.
½ cup buckwheat
2 large boiled potatoes
1 small piece of ginger
3 cups of water
1 tbsp dried mango powder
1-2 chopped green chillies
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
Few sprigs of mint
Boil buckwheat in 3 cups of water. Once cooked, drain the excess water and keep aside.
Take half of the boiled buckwheat and grind to get a coarse mixture.
Mash the boiled potatoes.
Add spices and buckwheat (both crushed and whole) to the mashed potatoes.
Make small cutlets or croquettes out of this mixture in the desired shape.
Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry them (can be deep fried) on both sides until cooked.
Serve hot with mint or date chutney.
1 cup sama/moraiya or barn millet
¼ cup ghee
½ cup crushed almonds
1 cup powdered jaggery
3 ½ cups water
Dry roast sama for 5-7 minutes in a pan.
Add ghee, cardamoms and crushed almonds. Roast for another 2-3 mins.
Add jaggery and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add water and let mixture boil on a medium flame.
Keep stirring the mix till the water evaporates and a semi-solid consistency is achieved.
Turn off the heat. Serve hot.