Fasting is a common practice in many cultures across India. It is believed that fasts help one clear one’s body of toxins and other harmful elements. Navratri is one such series of fasts that is observed by the Hindus. Navratri refers to a nine-day long fast that is followed for a variety of reasons during different times of the year. While the Navratri falling at the end of the year leads up to Ram Navmi, there are also fasts, called Gupt Navratri. These fasts are observed during the beginning of the year as well as in the months of June and July. Also known as Ashadh Navratri, the festival will start on June 30 and go on until July 8 this year. 

Also Read: Navratri Special: 6 Irresistible South Indian Dishes To Try

During these fasts, Goddess Mahakali is worshipped and several rules and regulations are followed. Those observing the fasts are required to abstain from non-vegetarian food. Other food-related restrictions include avoiding use of onion, garlic as well as common salt in food. Rock salt or sendha namak is used instead. Even grains are not allowed to be consumed during this time. Fruits and vegetables along with milk and yoghurt are encouraged to be eaten throughout the day and the bhog offered at the end of the fast each day usually include halwa and kheer. 

Here are some foods that you can have during Gupt Navratri this year. 

1.  Samak Rice Pulao 

Samak, also known as barnyard millet, is a great substitute for rice. Commonly eaten during fasts like Navratri, Samak Ke Chawal can be used to make several dishes like Dosa, Dhokla and Rice Pulao. The nutrient-rich profile of samak is what makes it ideal for satiating one’s appetite during fasts. Not only does it keep you full for longer, it also provides energy to function throughout the day. A delicious Samak Pulao can be prepared by mixing bottle gourd and potatoes with the millet and sprucing it up with rock salt, cumin seeds, and pepper powder.  

2.  Kuttu Ki Poori 

Kuttu is a usual suspect during Navratri. Almost all Navratri fasts have some or the other made of kuttu. The flour is made from a fruit seed called buckwheat and is therefore suitable to be consumed during fasts. The kuttu ka atta is kneaded into a dough for poori. Then it is rolled out into small, round puris, which are then deep-fried in ghee. These nutritious pooris are quite filling and are usually paired with Aloo Ki Subzi. Potatoes are diced into cubes and cooked up into a gravy dish without the use of onions and garlic. 

3.  Sabudana Khichdi

Also called sago, the tapioca pearls or sabudana are a healthy and tasty ingredient that are also a Navratri favourite. Several dishes can be made with sabudana, including cutlets, pooris, and vadas. A Sabudana Khichdi is a delicious treat, made with tapioca pearls, potatoes and some spices like sendha namak, curry leaves and ginger. The khichdi is crunchy and soft at the same time and a slight nuttiness is added with a garnish of peanuts.

4. Vrat Ki Kadhi 

A tangy and refreshing curry from Indian cuisine, kadhi is usually made from buttermilk or yoghurt. The light gravy dish is perfect for these Navratri fasts as it keeps you cool during summers. The pakode for this vrat-special kadhi are made from buckwheat flour or kuttu. The crispy fritters are then dunked into a pool of sour curd kadhi, flavoured with curry leaves, grated ginger and cumin. Peanuts are used to thicken the gravy.

5.  Vrat Ki Kheer

A delectable sweet meat, Kheer is an Indian rice pudding made with rice grains and milk. Since rice isn’t allowed during fasts, this kheer is made with barnyard millet or samak. The samak chawal is used as a substitute and cooked together with milk and sugar. Stirred continuously, it attains a thick and creamy consistency after which it can be garnished with nuts like almonds, cashews, and raisins. Throw in a few saffron strands to finish the dessert.