Wholesome fasting food

September 2017

By Naini Setalvad

Relish delicious, balanced meals packed with nutrients to keep you satiated and energised this Navratri, says Naini Setalvad

Navratri or ‘nine nights’ is a time of fasting as well as colours, music and dance. It is the celebration of good overcoming evil; Lord Ram’s fierce battle and victory against Ravana. During this time, the three forms of Goddess – Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati – are also invoked; and people pray, fast and abstain from certain foods.

In Hinduism, ‘Upvas’ (fasting) literally means ‘to get closer to God’ and it’s a sentiment resonating with most Indians. These nine days are a reminder to be a good sadhak (seeker), and do sadhna (practice), seva (service), and satsang (listening about the glories of God). Fasting not only enhances self-discipline and self-control but also improves health, re-energises the body and re-enfores positive vibes in our being. Stomach, intestine, liver and kidney, which are important organs, are given a rest. In short, fasting is a real cleansing device; a process for overhauling and purification.

Though fasting foods were intelligently chosen by our ancestors to prevent hunger pangs, overtime, the style of fasting has been further improvised and modified in order to make it more sustainable and less austere. The changes have been made keeping in mind that all nutrients needed by the body including proteins, fats and carbohydrates as part of the diet. Whether you’re a student, housewife, working professional or senior citizen, it is very easy to fast these days. Today, people fast by consuming fruits, dry fruits, select roots, condiments and vegetables such as ginger, bottle gourd, lemon, cucumber and mint. Grains have been substituted with potato, sago, sweet potato, raw banana, yam, amaranth (rajgira), waterchestnut flour (singhada atta), barnyard millet (sama), and buck wheat (kuttu). As lentils and pulses are not permitted, proteins can be obtained from nuts, milk, curd and paneer. The medium of cooking is ghee made from cow’s milk. For taste and tempering, cumin seeds and rock salt are used.

Let’s look at the properties of a few of the fasting grain substitutes: rajgira is a good source of calcium and protein, curtails hunger, and has a low glycemic index. Kuttu is a natural cleanser of the digestive track due to its fibre content, making it a natural detoxifying agent. Sweet potatoes are easily available, inexpensive, delicious,
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