No need to go around in circles trying to figure your cleansing faraal diet during Navratri. Here is a new-age low-down of the dos and don'ts
The October heat is upon us, and the weather is making you swoon without indulging in a round of garba. "It is the transition of summer towards Vasant ritu or winter," corporate Indian chef, Graviss Hospitality, Bhairav Singh, points out. Besides prayers, food plays an important part in this phase. "People fast for nine days, but not just for religious reasons. The main aim is to cleanse the body to brace for the terrible heat and prepare it for the next season," says Singh, who is an ayurvedic expert, too.
In the olden days, people indulged in raw and uncooked food. "Fried food like sabudana vada came in much later. Usually, people followed a fruit diet, but in the evening when one is not recommended consumption of fruit, the inclusion of other items came in, such as tapioca in the south and sweet potato in the north, lightly flavoured with shenda namak or Himalayan rock salt. Ghee, milk and milk products along with sago also became common ingredients," Singh says.
Coconut and peanut salad with yogurt sama porridge and sago papad
Make a healthy choice
If you make the effort to consume the right ingredients at the right time of the day, gaining fat during the festive season can be curbed. "Remember, sabudana khichdi must be consumed sparingly since it's high on calories. One can also consume steamed potatoes or arbi with spices and herbs — these are high on calories and hence must be consumed preferably in the first half of the day, and sparingly!" says nutritionist Karishma Chawla, breaking it down per meal.
Gourd vegetables and singhara atta stew with sama rice and yam chips. Pics/Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal
Breakfast: Buckwheat (kuttu) upma or rajgira roti with a bowl of skimmed curd.
Mid-morning: Low sugar and high-fibre fruits like apple, pear or papaya along with skimmed milk.
Lunch: Buckwheat khichadi along with some lauki (bottle gourd) sabzi and pieces of skimmed milk paneer.
Evening: A portion of mixed nuts like almonds, walnuts, peanuts with some skimmed curd or skimmed milk.
Dinner: A bowl of skimmed paneer, rajgira roti and lauki raita. Sweet dishes can be made with skimmed milk plus stevia rather than whole milk and sugar. Consider lauki or buckwheat kheer or halwa. Sprinkle a little jaggery powder to elevate the taste.
Banana almond smoothie
Food writer and consultant Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal takes us back in time. "During fasts, we eat faraal. The word is derived from phal ahar or fruit diet. The diet eaten traditionally by most ascetics and sadhus who would forage naturally available fruits and vegetables from the forest, phal ahaar essentially denotes what grows and is not cultivated," says Ghildiyal. Anna, which is cultivated like rice, dal and grains are thus avoided during the Navratri fast. Fasting is a great way to give the body a chance to detox. Here's her list of modern foods to see you through this period:
* Fruits and nuts dominate the menu, with 150-odd ingredients that are fasting-friendly. Four types of grains are allowed — kuttu (buckwheat), arrowroot, samo rice, and water chestnut or caltrop (singhada) flour.
* While spices fall in the grey area, green chillies and Himalayan rock salt work while fasting.
* Fruits of all kind, and flours of fruit like banana and jackfruit can be added to the menu.
* Usually, raw banana fruit is used as a substitute to make cutlets. So, one can use banana flour to make bread with nuts and dried fruits.
* Candied or dried fruits (not candies) and fruit yogurts, smoothies, juices.
* Dehydrated fruits are easily available in the market, in exotic varieties from papaya and pineapple to jamun and strawberry. Or go the extra mile and put the fruit into a dehydrator. Or, puree a fruit to make flavoured yogurts.
*Roasted chips made with potato, sweet potato or any other vegetable of your choice. Slice them into thin sheets and roast them in the oven for an instant crispy but healthy snack.
* All gourds are recommended during fasting, ranging from bottle gourd to ridge gourd. Think soups and stews. Also include coconut, cucumber, peanuts, (white homemade) butter and ghee in the diet.
* Steam instead of frying
* Consume sugar substitutes instead of sugar
* Minimise high-calorific foods like sabudana, makhana and arbi
Chef Bhairav Singh and Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal
* Have whole fruits instead of dried fruits
* Ensure 2-3 servings of protein in the form of skimmed dairy products
* Stay hydrated at all times
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