Fruit­ful fast­ing

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.

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.

Buck­wheat (kuttu) upma or ra­j­gira roti with a bowl of skimmed curd.

Low sugar and high-fi­bre fruits like ap­ple, pear or pa­paya along with skimmed milk.

Buck­wheat khichadi along with some lauki (bot­tle gourd) sabzi and pieces of skimmed milk pa­neer.

A por­tion of mixed nuts like al­monds, wal­nuts, peanuts with some skimmed curd or skimmed milk.

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.

New-age op­tions

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.


Sama risotto Gourd veg­eta­bles and sing­hara atta stew with sama rice and yam chips. Co­conut and peanut salad with yo­gurt sama por­ridge and sago pa­pad Sabu­dana salad

Ba­nana al­mond smoothie

Kar­ishma Chawla

Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal

Chef Bhairav Singh

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