Friday, October 19, 2012

Navratri (Food for fasting) -- Jeera Aloo and Fruit Chaat

Fasting is a spiritual practise observed in many religions. In Hinduism fasting stands for denial of the physical needs of the body for the sake of spiritual gains. By this act of self discipline devotees starve their senses (since food means gratification of senses), strengthening their mind  as well as hardening their body for hardships. It helps establish a harmonious relationship between body and soul.

During the Navratri festival a lot of Hindus observe eight days of fasting. Fasting can be of several types. Complete abstinence is called upavaas, avoiding any cereal and only eating fruits and root vegetables is called phalahaar. For navratri its mostly phalahaar. People eat only once in the evening and consume no cereal even in that meal.

Potato is a popular choice for such meals and is prepared in several ways. Another favourite is fruit chaat, which is a blend of chopped fruit flavoured with salt and lemon juice. For those of you who are fasting, here are some recipes.

On the eighth day devotees break their fast and worship little girls (between the ages of 2-12) as the goddess herself by offering poori with halwa and chane along with some little gifts and/or money.

Jeera Aloo

Jeera Aloo
Ingredients: (serves 1)
2 baking potatoes, peeled and sliced (I have used small white potatoes with skin on)
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp butter or ghee (or vegetable oil)
1/2 tsp coriander powder
salt and pepper to taste
  • Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds.
  • Let them splatter for 30 seconds, then add potatoes. Coat then evenly with oil and cumin.
  • Add coriander, salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Mix well.
  • Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring 2-3 times to allow even cooking. Cook till tender crisp. Garnish with fresh coriander.
Jeera Aloo

Fruit Chaat (fruit salad)
Banana, apple, pear, grapes, oranges, pineapple, any fruits you might want to add. Some versions also add boiled sweet potato and cucumber to the fruit salad.
Kala namak (black rock salt)
Black pepper
Cumin powder
Lime juice
  • Cut fruits into bite size pieces and combine in a large bowl.
  • Flavour with lime juice, kala namak , freshly ground black pepper and dry roasted cumin powder. Mix well and refrigerate. Serve chilled.

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