Top 5 foods to eat in fast during Navratri 2021

During the nine days of Navratri leading up to Dussehra, devotees of Goddess Durga practice fasting as it is symbolic of purifying one’s soul; cleansing and rejuvenating it for the forthcoming winter season. 

Navratri is a 9 day festival of tremendous significance in the Hindu culture. Celebrated as an emblem of the conquest of good over evil, the occasion marks the onset of the festive season in India. 

The festival of Navratri is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her nine avatars. While Navratri occurs 4 times a year, Sharad Navratri is the one most look forward to. During these nine days leading up to Dussehra, devotees of Goddess Durga practice fasting as it is symbolic of purifying one’s soul; cleansing and rejuvenating it for the forthcoming winter season. 

There are varied ways to fast during this time and thus, abundant rules and customs are set in place to explain to common folk the correct manner to fast while observing the festival. The most widespread rules that are followed undisputed by everyone include the exclusion of regularly consumed grains such as Wheat and Rice from the fasting diet. Consumption of alcohol is wholly discouraged during this time. Aside from that, many other restrictions on everyday food such as onion, garlic, lentils, salt, meat, etc. are also imposed. 

While fasting is a religious affair for many, the myriad of restrictions on food significantly minimises the pool of potential dishes that can be cooked and consumed during the festival. This belief deters many from striving to fast during the festival but most people remain oblivious that there are numerous ways to enjoy flavourful and healthy food while fasting as well! 

 

Here are 5 foods you can eat during Navratri fasting this year:

 

  1. Sabudana
Image courtesy: spiceupthecurry.com

Sabudana or Sago is a plant-based starch rich in carbohydrates, a nutrient that becomes necessary during the incessant fasting all through the nine days of Navratri. It is fairly easy to obtain and prepare which makes it apt to be used as a substitute for multiple carb-rich food sources like wheat and rice that are restricted during the time.

The most popular dishes to make with sabudana include kheer and khichdi — acting as a substitute for rice and lentils. But there is an abundance of dishes that can use sabudana as a substitute or even the main star of the show! 

Fried food such as sabudana vada and papad are delicious tea-time snacks and thalipeeth made out of sago is a hearty breakfast that will keep you energized through the rest of the day. Sabudana ladoo will take care of all your dessert cravings while bhel and tikki will not let you miss the dearly-loved street food. One can always experiment with the ingredient and come up with recipes unique to their taste as well. 

 

    2. Fruits

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According to tradition, there is no restriction on eating fruits during Navratri fasting which should make these delicious sources of nutrition a staple in your fasting diet this festive season.

With the abundant variety of fruits ranging from saccharine sweet to sour and tangy available in the markets, the amount of dishes one can make with it also multiplies. If eating fruit salads has remained your sole way to consume fruits during the festival, switching it up with a little effort should change your perspective of it extraordinarily. 

Fruit chaat makes for an amazing evening snack while fruit smoothies made from berries and soy milk will be the nutritious punch you need to kickstart a day filled with activities. Lassi blended with mangoes or bananas is a refreshing drink to enjoy during lunch hours and one can always end the day by eating fruit desserts such as Apple kheer or mango phirni.  

 

    3. Kattu

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Kattu or buckwheat flour is the primary stand-in for whole wheat flour and even all-purpose flour which are not allowed during the nine days of fasting. Wheat being the core ingredient of an incomprehensible amount of Indian dishes, it becomes hard to think of another substitute for it but Kattu flour does the job well. 

Kattu flour, made from fruit seeds, is loaded with proteins and rich in dietary fibre and vitamins. It is a very healthy option to whole wheat flour — which is carb-forward. Kattu flour is frequently used to make roti and bread during Navratri but this unique ingredient is more flexible than many reckon. 

Paratha and puris made with kattu are delightful and healthier options for the health-conscious.  Moreover, South Indian food such as dosa and idli, among other things, can also be made with kattu. Those looking for a change in their Indian diet can also try buckwheat noodles — a common delicacy in many parts of east Asia. 

 

    4. Makhana

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Makhana or fox nuts are the dried seeds of prickly water lily flowers commonly eaten in many diverse parts of East and South Asia. In India too, makhanas are a common sight in temple offerings and religious ceremonies, and they are also widely consumed during Navratri fasting. 

Low in cholesterol, fat and sodium, Makhanas is known to be a nutritious snack to satiate those mid-meal pangs of hunger that are recurrent during the days of fasting. They are also rich in protein and gluten-free which makes them a favourite food for weight loss as well. 

There’s a lot of room to make makhanas taste as per your cravings for the day. Roasted makhanas are a crunchy tea-time offering while makhana tikki is a perfect solution to your spicy food needs. Makhanas can also be paired with vegetables to make dishes for the main course and makhana kadhi is a fan favourite during the season. For those looking for sweet treats, makhana kheer and barfi are just the dishes for you. 

 

     5. Potatoes

Image courtesy: aartimandan.com

The list wouldn’t conclude without mentioning the beloved vegetable that is potato. A versatile ingredient and an all-time favourite of most people, potatoes are not restricted during the Navratri fasts which give you ample opportunities to prepare delicious dishes with them. 

Potatoes are a rich source of starch and carbohydrates, making for a hearty meal enough to keep your hunger at bay during the gruelling work hours while fasting during the nine days that Navratri festivities last. They are pretty adaptable and thus become a common inclusion in a lot of vrat food during the time. 

One can always eat aloo jeera that is popular amongst the fasting population but other variations such as Potato in tomato gravy or potato in curd sauce are also easy to make. Dishes such as potato tikki and pakora make for great evening snacks while aloo chat generously satisfies your savoury taste buds. Desserts such as Aloo halwa and sweet potato ladoo are also widely loved.

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