The nine-day Hindu festival during which devotees fast and abstain from certain foods, involves consuming specific types of foods that are considered pure and in accordance with the religious and cultural traditions. Here are six types of fasting foods commonly consumed during Navratri, and the health benefits of each.
Given how much emphasis is placed on the importance of fasting during regular intervals, the nine-day Navratri festival allows for ample scope to cleanse and detox the body, while also consuming foods that prevent a dip in energy levels. Fasting-specific ingredients are considered to be nutrient-dense, making up for the lack of a balanced diet during this time period. Each ingredient that is used to prepare Sattvic dishes that are commonly consumed, have their individual effects on the overall functioning of the body. Here are six widely consumed fasting foods and how they nourish the eater.
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Buckwheat flour or kuttu ka atta, is a rich source of essential nutrients like protein, fibre and antioxidants. This gluten-free ingredient used to make rotis, puris, parathas and more, can help effectively manage blood sugar levels, while also provide a feeling of fullness being source of energy.
Samo rice or barnyard millet is known to be a good source of carbohydrates and provides energy during fasting. Easy to digest and helpful to maintain blood sugar levels, it is also gluten-free, making it suitable for those with gluten sensitivities. Used in preparations like pulao, khichdi or even eaten steamed with rajgira kadhi, sama ke chawal is ideal for a solid meal.
Singhara flour is used to make various dishes like puris, halwa, kheer and dosas during Navratri. Along with being gluten-free, flour made from Indian water chestnuts provides energy due to its high carbohydrate content. Singhara is also rich in potassium, essential for heart health and maintaining proper fluid balance in the body.
Contrary to popular belief, the dense carbohydrates in potatoes are common to consume while fasting during Navratri. They are a good source of fibre and essential nutrients like vitamin C and potassium. Potatoes, when used to prepare cutlets, or in sabudana khichdi, or eaten as French fries, provide sustained energy and also help in preventing muscle cramps.
Fruits & Nuts
Along with seasonal fruits, bananas, apples and chikoo, dry fruits like almonds and walnuts are often consumed during Navratri. Being a rich source in natural sugar, good fats, essential vitamins, and minerals, these foods can help keep you full and provide a variety of nutrients. Fruits also help in maintaining the body’s hydration levels while nuts added to sweets and savoury preparations also bulk up a recipe.
The mineral-rich rock salt or sendha namak is used during fasting as a replacement for regular table salt. Believed to be purer and a good source of essential minerals, using rock salt to season recipes helps maintain electrolyte balance during fasting. Adding a pinch of sendha namak to sherbets, buttermilk or lemonade also allows to add a deeply savoury taste which table salt might not provide.