Savouring fast food options pan India

FASTING FEASTING

If you thought that fasting on Navratris are only about depending on the usual aloo ki sabji or kuttu ki roti/poori or ordering a so-called ‘Navratri special thali’ from a known restaurant then look around and find a neighbour from a different state.

TASTY : Sawank ki khichdi

Navratri is celebrated all over the country and different regions have their traditional dishes to make your fast a veritable feast. Delhi being a cauldron where all communities have found their individual nichés, there is no dearth of dishes that one can try as part of falahar, to keep one energised while fasting.

With residents from almost all regions of the northern belt including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab settled here for generations, you can be sure that your nine day fasting can actually result in a different menu for every meal time for all the nine days!  While some prefer simply frying arbi others believe in healthy fruit chaats. Those from Bihar don’t eat anything apart from consuming plain milk and fruits whereas Gujaratis make even a simple  glass of hot milk special with spices or dry fruits and call it Doodh Paak.

A Rajasthani, Suman Meena loves Sawank ki kheer that her mother cooks at home. The recipe is rather simple, “Wash a cup of sanwak ke chawal and half a cup sabudana and boil them in one and a half kilo milk. After a boil or two add makhanas. When the chawal and sabudana turn soft, add 250 grams of sugar and top it with dry fruits.” She assures that one’s sweet tooth will be satisfied.

But those with a sweet tooth should not restrain themselves to only kheer as there is Aloo ka Halwa to indulge in. An advocate by profession, Pratima Gupta is a Marwari who has lived in Delhi for most of her life. She happily shares the recipe: “Mash boiled patotoes, roast them in a good quantity of ghee till it attains a pink colour. Then add sugar to it and top it with dry fruits.” Not so difficult to make and just a tip to add, one can also try sweet potato halwa with the same method of preparation.

Moving from the sweet tooth of Rajasthanis and Marwaris, here is an innovation by Sona Pathak, a Bengali married to a native of Uttar Pradesh. Her dishes reflect a fusion of both cultures where in she brings the favourite sweet Bengali tooth to the pooris of Uttar Pradesh. Sona says, “I make Haryali poori and they are a good option to bring variety to your table.”

To prepare this, “Mash boiled potatoes and add grated dry fruits such as cashew, walnut, almond and coconut. Add sugar powder and bind them with kuttu ka aata. One can also add mashed banana to this mixture but that is optional. Once the dough is ready, make small kachori-size pooris and deep fry them.” She also suggests a salted version of the same by adding salt and pepper instead of sugar.

But that’s too much of sweet, so entrepreneur Ketan Vyas prefers the light and easily digestible Sabudane ki Khichdi. The enthusiastic foody shares, “One needs to check the sabudana by pressing one grain between the thumb and forefinger. It should flatten with a bit of pressure and neither become buttery nor remain hard at the core. If the centre is still tough sprinkle a bit of water on top and let stand for a bit longer.”

This was just the preparation part. Now begins the cooking, “Heat the oil and fry the potatoes till brown and done and remove from the oil. Now fry the cumin, chillies and add all the sabudana. Fry this for about 7 minutes while stirring constantly. Add the sugar and salt and continue to stir till the sugar dissolves.

Now add the cooked potatoes as well as the peanuts and stir for 3 minutes more till the sago is slightly brown. Sprinkle coriander on top and serve hot.” He warns that this dish is capable of turning slightly rubbery in texture and might not taste good if left to cool, therefore he recommends to consume it as fast as possible.

If you thought that the food trail was limited to only north India then divert your attention towards the southern trail. Geetha, who originally hails from Kerala makes Sabudana Paysum and Daliya ka Upma. If any confusion arises in your mind regarding daliya being a grain/cereal then she clarifies that it isn’t considered so for them as rice is their regular diet. So, “daliya is washed and boiled. Add oil and dried red chilli in a pan and then add the boiled daliya and roast it in oil and add salt as per taste.”

So drop down that hotel menu and get going into the kitchen to try all these and more! Did someone say you were fasting? Oh Well!

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