Navratri fasts: Do’s, don’ts and designer dishes

Bharti Sanghi
Falahari thali by Bharti Sanghi

The Navratras (the nine-day fasting festival dedicated to Goddess Durga, she of the 10 arms and arresting gaze, much like the work-from-home mom) are upon us. And if you belong to a traditional Indian home, you’re probably getting all set to keep the fast or support someone else at home who will. (And in case you thought fasting was only for the superstitious at heart, have a look at this evidence that informed fasting is good for us.)

To make your life easier and tastier, designer sweet-maker and food maven Bharti Sanghi has come up with special ‘Falahari’ delicacies. Her menu includes innovative versions of fasting foods (compulsory for the Navratri), such as singhade ki poori, kuttu ki poori and a variety of permitted vegetables. From September 25 to October 3, 2014, she will deliver them to your doorstep, so if you live anywhere around Delhi, Kanpur, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Surat or Mumbai, call 011 26388811 to place your order.

Bharti Sanghi
Bharti Sanghi

Sanghi’s passion for food started early on in life, when she used to experiment in the kitchen in her teens. After marriage into a traditional Marwari household, she started her own home kitchen eight years ago, and soon set up a professional unit in Okhla, New Delhi, and later an ISO-approved bottling unit in Sahibabad, Uttar Pradesh. She’s developed a food technology that helps her create theplas, phulkas, gattas and panchmela dal with a shelf life of a year. Her brand, Life, is all about recipes handed down over generations. Her range includes fruit beverages with two sugar-free variants, Farsaan (snacks) and absolutely brilliant designer sweets under the label Home Alone.

In the meantime, the lady sweetly shares information about the Navratri fast itself.

So what really is one allowed to eat during this fast?

People who are fasting cannot consume any grain, certain vegetables, salt and red chilli in these nine days. They can have dry fruits, fruits, milk and milk-based products in any form. Instead of using wheat flour or all-purpose flour, one can opt for kuttu ka atta, rajgro / rajgira flour and water chestnuts (singhade) flour. One can have only selected vegetables such as carrot, lemon, cucumber, bottle gourd, pumpkin and potato and can add taste to the food by using sugar, black pepper and rock salt (lahori / sendha namak) only. Also keep in mind that salt and pepper can be consumed only once in a day.

Pista ladoo with badam fondant
Pista laddoo with almond fondant

Is all this healthy? Does it fulfil one’s nutrition requirements?

It varies – from people to people according to their taste, likes-dislikes and body type. But one should ensure that one has two glasses of milk, minimum two fruits, and one proper meal to keep going all day long.

Milk or curd can be taken in any form, such as cucumber raita, fruit-based smoothie or milkshake without adding any artificial or packed ingredient. While preparing for the one and only meal you’re allowed, make sure your ingredients do not include anything else from the above stated items. Keep your water intake good, say around eight-10 glasses at the very minimum.

So does that mean no sweets from commercial bakers at this time?

Food plays very important role while fasting, because one can only have specific food items during that period. Even bakeries can’t risk overlooking the said ingredients for this auspicious occasion. Bakers and chefs have to stick to the authentic ingredients but can play with the presentation. For instance, one can prepare a traditional almond barfi in the flower shape; pista barfi can be recreated as pista laddoo with almond fondant and so on.

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