Navaratri or nine nights are nights filled with joy, celebration, and devotion. These nine days are for the nine Goddesses. They are considered as different avatars of Shakti. The nine days and nights are celebrated in unique ways in different parts of India. Eastern India witnesses the life-sized idols of Ma Durga. The pandals can be as imaginative and yet real. Pujo fever is so palpable. At the other end of the country, Navaratri means garba wherein the traditional attire is ghaghra-choli and kurta pajama, and the moto is to dance all night. The northern part of the country sees Navaratri as a pious time. People conduct religious bhajans as a part of the nine-day jagraata (without sleep). While in the south, Navaratri is celebrated by placing various dolls on portable steps. This is called golu. Golu symbolises the life cycle and various aspects of human life.
One thing that is common in these nine days is abstaining from the consumption of meat, eggs, or any kind of non-vegetarian food and alcohol. Most Hindus follow this and enjoy delicious vegetarian spreads.
1. Whole green gram sweet sundal
Cook time: 20 minutes + 30 minutes soaking
Serve: 4 per
i. Soak the whole green gram dal for about 30 minutes.
ii. Pressure cook it till 1 whistle comes. The dal should hold its shape and should not be mushy.
iii. Spread the cooked dal on a plate and let it cool.
iv. Grate jaggery and sprinkle on the cooled dal. Sprinkle coconut scrapings, green cardamom powder, and salt. Gently mix well. Take care not to turn the dal into a mushy mass. Top it up with a tablespoon of warm ghee.
v. The sundal is not overly sweet. It should have just a bit of sweetness and a bit of savouriness. But the choice is purely individualistic.
vi. One can serve this warm or at room temperature.
2. Potato discs
Cook time: 30 minutes + soaking time
Serve: 4 per
Ingredients for spice mix:
Ingredients for the discs:
i. To prepare a spice mix take the ingredients and dry roast them lightly in a pan. Cool and crush them coarsely in a mortar and pestle and keep the spice mix aside.
ii. Whisk the curd until smooth and creamy. Add in the Kashmiri red chilli powder and salt to the curd.
iii. Boil the baby potatoes till just done. Ensure not to over boil it. Peel and prick the potatoes with a fork.
iv. Soak the boiled potatoes in the curd for about an hour.
v. Take individual potato and press them in between the palms to resemble a disc. Repeat it with other potatoes.
vi. Heat some ghee in a wok and deep fry the potato discs.
vii. Take them out on an absorbent paper.
viii. Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee and add in a tablespoon of the prepared spice mix. Swirl it and pour over the fried discs. Mix well. Serve the discs hot.
3. Paneer and makhana curry with buckwheat flour poori
Cook time: 45 minutes
Serve: 4 per
Type: Main course
Ingredients to grind to a paste:
Ingredients for curry:
Ingredients for Poori:
i. Heat a teaspoon of ghee in a pan and fry up cashew nuts, green cardamom, clove, bay leaf, and cumin seeds. Warm up the milk and soak the fried ingredients along with poppy seeds for about 30 minutes.
ii. Grind them into a fine paste.
i. Cut the paneer into small cubes.
ii. Heat about a couple of tablespoons of ghee.
iii. Fry the lotus seeds till nice and golden. Add in the paneer and sauté well.
iv. Add in the seasonings and mix.
v. Add the finely ground paste to the lotus seeds and paneer.
vi. Adjust the consistency with milk and cream. The consistency should be just right. Not too thick or not too thin or watery.
i. Mash up the boiled potatoes well.
ii. Add in the flour and the seasoning.
iii. Knead into a tight dough for the poori.
iv. Roll out the pooris and fry them in hot ghee.
v. Serve hot with the curry.
4. Raw papaya and apple salad
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serve: 4 per
i. Wash, peel, and cut the papaya into big chunks. Boil them for a couple of minutes. Cool and grate them.
ii. Roast the peanut and rub them to take the skin off. Crush them coarsely.
iii. Chop the apples, not too finely.
iv. Take a bowl and throw in the grated papaya and apples.
v. Finely chop the green chilli and mix in with papaya and apples.
vi. Squeeze in the lemon and season well with salt and sugar.
vii. Add the crushed peanuts for crunch. More peanuts can also be added.
(Tip: Turn this salad into a raita by adding curd.)
5. Cucumber and ginger mojito with coconut water
Cook time: 5 minutes
Serve: 4 per
i. Wash, peel and grate the cucumber.
ii. Grate ginger and wash mint leaves.
iii. Squeeze out the juices of the lemons.
iv. Take tall glasses and add in grated cucumber and ginger. Add few mint leaves and some lemon juice. Crush them with a wooden spoon. Add sugar and salt and top it up with coconut water.
v. Serve chilled.
Fasting is a natural way to detox and give some relief to the digestive system. Since the ingredients are limited and one is prohibited to consume few ingredients, one has to really scratch the brain to go creative. But the fun is all about eating things that are not just nutritious but also delicious to eat.
Here are few more recipes for you to try.
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