Navratri is the time when we notice something special happening. We embrace traditions passed down through generations with open hearts. Who is making what, an update on everyone’s health, and above all the energy to continue keeping vrat or fasts for all nine days shows our resilience and devotion towards our culture. Fasting during Navratri is a profound spiritual journey that makes us feel closer to our roots. Our ancestors have been practising it for decades now. But why do we fast with such strong devotion during these nine auspicious nights?
For us, fasting during Navratri signifies much more than keeping ourselves away from food. It’s the first step in purifying our minds and bodies and making them more receptive to the blessings of the Goddess Durga. It’s a way to deepen our connection with the divine.
It is believed when we observe these fasts, we pay homage to the divine energies that govern the Universe. This practice also echoes the mythology that surrounds Navratri, where Goddess Durga battled the demon Mahishasura for nine days and nights. Fasting during this time symbolizes our solidarity with her struggle and victory.
Our scriptures, like the Devi Bhagavata Purana and the Durga Saptashati, highlight the significance of these fasts during Navratri. They emphasise the importance of devotion and penance, guiding us to draw strength from within as we fast. These sacred texts resonate with stories of divine blessings bestowed upon those who observe the fasts with unshakeable faith.
In Devi Bhagavata Purana, it is mentioned, “One who fasts during Navratri with utmost devotion and a pure heart finds favour with the Goddess and receives her divine blessings.”
As we talk about fasts, how can we not talk about the Navratri’s little heroes – Fruits!
Amidst all the cultural delights and devotion, fruits give us energy and keep our health in check. They play a vital role and still remain like unsung heroes in our fasting diets and add a creative twist to our meals.
Beyond their delicious flavours and vibrant colours, fruits, as we all know, have remarkable nutritional value. Keeping vrats i.e. fasting while still taking care of health can be achieved when we provide the right nutrients to our body; this can make a significant difference in our well-being.
Fruits, we all know, are nature’s best gift that offer a treasure trove of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are like tiny, nutrient-packed powerhouses, providing our bodies with the sustenance needed to thrive even when our diets are somewhat restricted. From refreshing fruit salads to innovative smoothies and desserts, incorporating fruits into Navratri meals creatively ensures that devotees receive the necessary nutrients to sustain them throughout this auspicious festival.
Fruits have a natural sweetness and a variety of flavours, bringing a delightful twist to the traditional Navratri meals. They’re not just a dietary requirement; they’re a source of culinary inspiration, allowing us to infuse our fasting dishes with both deliciousness and nutrition.
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“Navratri vrat is about eating light for nine days, providing rest, rejuvenation, and cleansing. Vrat ka khana is very logically designed to promote mindful eating and a natural detox. This process helps one become conscious of their eating habits as usually, we prefer taking food on the basis of its looks! That is where the role of fruits comes in place. Fruits offer nutrients, fibre, and hydration, preventing lethargy, and ensuring satiety. Embrace this opportunity earnestly,” says Kavita Devgan, Nutrition Expert.
Rekha Raghavan, a home chef from Gurugram, says, “Navratri marks a shift in the season. During this particular festival, fasting is recommended to flush out all the toxins from our body and get body-ready for the new season. Fruits can be consumed as snacks or as part of your main meals during Navratri. They can provide a refreshing break from heavier fasting foods.”
Let’s take a look at the satisfying ways to enjoy fruits during Navratri: The first one has to be the fruit chaat. A medley of diced fruits, such as apples, bananas, and pomegranates, comes together with a sprinkle of rock salt and a dash of lemon juice. The result? A refreshing and tangy snack that provides the nutrients needed to keep our energy levels up during the fasting period.
Fruits can also be stars in main course dishes. Take, for instance, fruit pulao, a fragrant blend of basmati rice, fruits like pineapple and raisins, and aromatic spices. The subtle sweetness of the fruits perfectly balances the spices, creating a dish that’s as nutritious as it is flavorful.
Here are 11 vrat-friendly fruit recipes that you must try for Navratri:
Recipes from Kavita Devgan’s latest book ‘500 Recipes’:
1. Banana ice-cream
Chop a ripe banana into small pieces and freeze it in a zip-lock bag overnight. Next morning, grind, adding 1 tbsp milk and a flavour of your choice – cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, condensed milk, peanut butter, chopped nuts, till the mix is smooth. Then transfer to a bowl and freeze again. Ready to dig in after an hour or so.
2. Banana raita
Slice a banana or mash it roughly with a fork and keep aside. Whisk 1 bowl of curd, add 1 tsp sugar and a pinch of salt (helps enhance the sweetness) and pour over the banana. In a pan, heat 1/2 tsp coconut oil add a pinch of mustard seeds and urad dal along with a few curry leaves and add this tempering over the banana curd mix. Grate some coconut shavings (fresh or dried), and mix well. Chill and dig in.
3. Grapes parfait
Place a few grapes in the bottoms of tall, stemmed glasses. Top with two tbsp of sour cream, then half tsp of brown sugar. Repeat until the glass is filled to the desired level. Garnish with a single grape on top.
4. Stewed fruit
Stew fruits (perfect for pears). Quarter the fruit, sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg powder, add fresh ginger, some jaggery or honey, then place in a pan with just enough water to cover, bring to a boil and then simmer covered, for about fifteen minutes. Turn the fruit occasionally. Eat as is, or mix with some yoghurt or granola.
5. Litchi dessert
Deseed 200 gm litchi, stuff it with lightly sweetened with honey or sugar 100 gm chaina (crumbled cottage cheese), chill and savour.
Fruit Meals Recipes From Home Chef Rekha Raghavan:
6. Fruit Salad
Combine fruits with some chopped mint leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice for a refreshing fruit salad. A touch of honey will increase the flavour.
7. Stuffed Fruits
Hollow out fruits like apples or pears and fill them with a mixture of chopped nuts and dried fruits. Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon for extra flavour. (The famous kulle ki chaat of old Delhi.)
8. Fruit Smoothies
Blend fruits like bananas, strawberries, and yogurt to make a delicious and creamy fruit smoothie. Garnish with chopped nuts or seeds.
9. Fruit Salsa
Dice fruits like mangoes, pineapples, and papayas, and mix them with finely chopped green chillies, cilantro, and a pinch of rock salt. This fruit salsa can be a zesty accompaniment to fasting-friendly chips or crackers.
10. Grilled Fruits
Try grilling fruits like peaches and pineapples for a unique flavour. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and serve with a side of yogurt or a drizzle of honey.
11. Fruit Kebabs
Thread pieces of fruits onto skewers and grill or roast them for a warm and slightly caramelized treat.
Fruits add a burst of sweetness, colour, and freshness to our dishes, making fasting a delightful gastronomic adventure. From fruit-infused drinks and snacks to main courses and desserts, they elevate our Navratri feasts to new heights.
Also Read: Navratri 2023: 5 Delicious Vrat-Special Chaat Recipes To Make Fasting Fun
Let’s soak ourselves in the echoes of the cultural journey and stay fresh and healthy this festive season. Happy Navratri!
About the author: Karan Puri, a renowned writer with several best-selling books to his credit, contributes as a freelance writer on food and lifestyle topics for numerous publications. He serves as a mentor for a handful of start-ups and manages his own digital marketing consultancy.
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