Navratri Food: Have You Stocked Up These Saatvik Ingredients?
Image Credit: Navratri Food

Navratri, nine days of worshipping Maa Durga and her Incarnations have begun. Navratri holds a special place in the hearts of all Hindus. It marks the victory of good over evil in the great battle between Demon Mahisasur and Maa Durga. Vijay Dashmi or Dussehra will follow nine days of Navratri.

In South India, Navratri is celebrated as a Dolls Festival, called ‘Navrathri Golu’, Or ‘Bommai Golu’. During the nine days, dolls and figurines are displayed as a thematic narration of everyday domestic life, wedding rituals, etc. At the same time, in West Bengal, the festival ‘Durga Pujo’ is celebrated with great pomp and show; it’s the time of the year all Bengalis wait to worship ‘Maa Durga’. While the sentiments remain the same throughout the country, the rituals, especially the dietary customs, differ from state to state.

Navratri also signifies the change in season. As per Ayurveda, human immunity is weaker during this period; thus, consuming Saatvik foods is recommended, and tamasic food is prohibited. Satvik foods are items which positively impact our mind and body, bringing calmness, happiness and improved mental health. Ayurveda describes ‘Tamasic’ food as affecting physical and psychological health, dulling the mind, and causing inertia, confusion and disorientation. Based on this ayurvedic concept, special food is consumed in parts of the country celebrating the Navratri festival.


‘Sabudana’, or Sago, is made from the tapioca roots extracted starch. The process of preparing ‘Subudana’ is tedious and refined; however, preparing delicious dishes from ‘Sabudana’ is pretty straightforward. Soak the Sago pearls overnight, and in the morning, the fluffy Sabudana is ready to prepare sumptuous dishes, like ‘Khichdi’, ‘Vada’, ‘Kheer’ etc. Potatoes, green chillies, and peanuts are often added to the soaked and sauteed ‘Sabudana’ to make the delicious ’Khichdi’ and vadas. ‘Sendha Namak’, being low on sodium and high on potassium, is the recommended salt to use in the preparation of Navratri meals.

‘Sabudana Papads’ and ‘chiwda’ are often prepared during Navratras as a perfect accompaniment to a fasting meal. In Maharashtra, Sabudana Thalipeeth is a common preparation during the fasting week.

                                   Image: Sabudana Khichdi

Kuttu Or Buckwheat

The Buckwheat flour, popularly known as ‘Kuttu Atta’, is the preferred choice of flour for making various breads and snacks during the Navratri festival. ‘Pooris, Rotis’, ‘Pakode’, ‘dosas’, etc. can be made with Kuttu. Many interesting dishes like Pizza, Rolls, Kebabs etc. are often prepared with ‘Kuttu’ to give the fasting meals an innovative edge.

Use ‘Kuttu Atta’ as a binder, with mashed potatoes, ‘Paneer’, or grated bottle gourd, carrots etc., to create ‘Kuttu Tikkis’ of your choice. In addition to ‘Kuttu Atta’, Singhade ka Atta (Water chestnut flour) and ‘Amaranth’ flour can be used similarly. So surprise yourself.

Samvat Or Samak Ke Chawal

As a substitute for rice, ‘Barnyard Millet’, also known as ‘Samak ke Chawal’, is used to make pulav or upma. Barnyard Millet is healthy, nutritious and non-glutenous. It is an excellent recommendation for gluten-free meals even after Navratri.

‘Samak rice’ can also be used to prepare dishes such as ‘Idli’, ‘Dosas’, ‘Uttapams’, ‘Kheer’, ‘Dhokla’, ‘Cheelas’ (Samak Rice Pancakes),’ Khichdi’, Cutlets, ‘Samak Akki Roti’, ‘Paniyarams’, ‘Appams’ and ‘Idiappams’ and a variety of fried or steamed snacks.


Potatoes are widely used to prepare a Navratri meal. Most ‘Navratri Thalis’, as well as snacks and pulao, are prepared with Potatoes as the main ingredient or stuffing. ‘Aloo Rassa’ compliments ‘Kuttu Poori’ or ‘Rotis’. Potatoes are used to prepare delicious ‘Pakode’, ‘Cutlets’ or ‘Vadas’, added to ’Samak Upma’, or as topping on a ‘Cheela’.

‘Ratalu’ or Yam, ‘Shakargandi’ (Sweet Potato), ‘Kaddu’ (White Pumpkin), spinach or even tomatoes can be used to prepare delicious and easy-to-cook preparations. ‘Shakarandi chaat’ or sweet and sour pumpkin curry is an ideal dish to enjoy with Kuttu Pooris during Navratri, ensuring a wholesome, healthy, delicious Navratri meal.

Boiled raw bananas and Bottlegourd (Lauki) mixed with potato or paneer are also used to make delicious ‘koftas’ or ‘kebabs’.

                                     Image: Lauki ka halwa

Fruits, Nuts, Milk Products and Sweets

All kinds of fruits and nuts fall under the Satvik foods category; hence they are essential to most Navratri meals. Fruits such as bananas and apples are used to prepare delicious desserts. Or chilled and cut into small dice with a bit of pepper or ‘Sendha namak’ to elevate the taste.

Cashew nuts and Raisins, too, can be added to dishes like a ‘pulao’ to provide a distinguished flavour and texture to the Navratri dishes. Similarly, many sweet dishes fall under ‘satvik’ foods category, especially those made with milk products. ‘Rabdi’, paneer-based dishes, and milk-based desserts like ‘payasam’, with the addition of coconut, dry fruits, or various fruits available as an option during fasts.

Nine days of fasting and the 10th day of Dussehra commemorate the victory of good over evil, and observing fast during these days ensures we eat healthy and nutritious food. To eat light is the main essence of Navratri fasting; spiritual and dietary rituals must be followed, ensuring purity in mind and the physical intake of divine ‘Satvik’ food. One should indulge in creating dishes which not just fill the calorific requirements of the body but is also tasty and nutritious.

So please bring on your chef hat and create dishes as per your taste and liking. With a wide variety of ingredients allowed during the Navratri fasts, Many exciting dishes can be created this Navratri. And while you are at it, don’t forget to share your creations with us at Slurrp.

Jai Mata Di!

Sidharth Bhan Gupta is a Hospitality/F&B Consultant travelling across India exploring regional cuisines.