Shravan heralds the beginning of Chaturmaas, a four-month-long period in the Hindu calendar dedicated to prayers, austerities, and rituals that worship natural elements. Many observe stringent fasts in this monsoon month; others prepare delectable dishes for the festive occasions falling in Shravan. From fasting to feasting choices, Satvik food this month is a delicious ride for the taste buds.
Well into the rainy season comes the month of Shravan in the Hindu calendar, a time for festivals, fasts, and ritual significance. From Mangalagaur and Nagpanchami to Raksha Bandhan and Narali Pournima, Shravan is filled with numerous festive days dedicated to worshipping the rain Gods and the bounties of nature, including the seas, wildlife, and flora.
In mythology too, the Samudra Manthan, or churning of the ocean, is said to have occurred in Shravan, during which the deadly poison Halahal was consumed by Lord Shiva. The Shravan Somwar is a fast observed on every Monday of the month as a prayer to this divine being. Shravan also marks the beginning of Chaturmaas, a four-month-long period of performing austerities, religious rituals, and strict fasting.
In many households, beginning with Shravan, a satvik diet without onions or garlic is put into motion, and comprises a wholly vegetarian assortment of dishes. Monsoons make digestion sluggish, and some who observe the fast during this period eat foods that are lighter on the stomach like milk, fruits, and water, particularly on Shravan Somwar.
The month is filled with many small but enjoyable festivities during which varied sweet delicacies are prepared as offerings to the divine. Most of these dishes contain fresh coconut or crushed peanuts, creating a heady mix of fasting and feasting delights. Here are some popular dishes to eat during Shravan:
Fresh coconut is readily available in the market during the monsoon months, which makes it a clear favourite in the kitchen. One of the delicious sweet treats consumed during Shravan is the nariyal barfi, made from a mixture of freshly grated coconut, milk, sugar, and diced cashews or pistachios. The barfi has a grainy yet soft texture and absolutely melts in the mouth. A variation also involves adding khoya and condensed milk to the coconut for enhanced creaminess.
For those who observe a stringent fast, rajgira kheer is a nutritious option that provides a high dose of energy. Amaranth, or rajgira, is a great gluten-free source of fibre, protein, and micronutrients. Mixed with milk and sugar, the amaranth, or rajgira, becomes a lightly flavourful but wholesome porridge with a nice crunch. Sprinkled with cardamom powder for fragrance, rajgira kheer is a warm meal that is light on the stomach and delicious on the tongue.
Yet another concoction made using freshly grated coconut, nariyal bhaat, or sweet coconut rice, is a popular prasad offering made on Narali Poornima. This ghee-infused dish is prepared by adding melted jaggery mixed with generous amounts of grated coconut to soft, boiled rice. Sometimes, raisins and saffron are also used in the recipe for an added layer of flavour. Nariyal bhaat is a popular dish among the koli, or fisherman, community in Maharashtra, who offer it as prasad to the sea gods.
Singhara, or water chestnut kheer, yet another warm, homely, and simple porridge, is a good meal replacement for those following a strict fast during Shravan. For many who take only one meal on fast days, it is a great option because of its rich carbohydrate, vitamin, and antioxidant content. Singhara powder mixed with milk and sugar becomes a complete meal that helps to ward off indigestion and nausea. Moreover, its antibacterial and antiviral properties also keep seasonal maladies at bay, while the delicious kheer contains all the ingredients necessary to ward off fatigue and insomnia.
Shravan marks the beginning of many yearly rituals and pujas, which are followed by a hearty lunch. A great side dish is banana fritters, or pakodas, made from overripe bananas coated in a batter of gram flour. Banana fritters, with their sweetness and crunch, elevate the flavour palette of any Satvik meal. Newlywed women perform the Mangalagaur puja during Shravan, inviting other married women for leisurely luncheons, where the banana fritters are a crowd favourite.
Grated potatoes tossed in ghee, cumin, green chillies, and a few crushed peanuts are an unmissable savoury delight. This simple meal is a rich source of energy and a popular breakfast choice during religious fasts in Maharashtra. The kees, literally meaning grated potato, can be a full meal or served as an accompaniment with lunch. The spice of the chillies mixed with the earthiness of the crushed groundnuts elevates the flavour of this relatively easy-to-prepare dish. Potatoes can also be substituted with sweet potatoes to make the more traditional ratalyacha kees.