It doesn’t have to bother you that the fasting period of the festival doesn’t permit the use of several ingredients. The best part about all Indian regional cuisines is that despite what you might not be permitted to or cannot use in a given period, there are many others you can use to make some simple, yet tasty and healthy dishes. Once you understand the foods and ingredients you are permitted to consume during this religious period curate your choice of dishes.
Quench your thirst with dhungari hui chaach (smoked buttermilk) using sendha namak or try your hand at making badami haalu (almond and saffron milk). Or, make the ever-favourite iced tea, smoothies, milkshakes and sharbats in any of your preferred natural flavours. Instead of sugar use seasonal fruits or jiggery as a sweetener.
Use singhara atta (water chestnut flour) to prepare a variety of dishes such as uttapam, fritters, puri, dahi bada and singhara halwa. Samak rice, another fasting ingredient, can be used to prepare khichadi, pulaos and kheer.
Here are some of the all-time favourite sweets made during in Navaratri, contributed by Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji.
In Bengali, “mishti” means sweet while “doi” means curd. This extremely tasty, fermented overnight sweet curd/sweet yogurt is prepared using full-cream milk, which is simmered and reduced, and curd culture sweetened with palm jaggery and mildly flavoured with green cardamom powder. You may garnish it with slivered nuts, fresh pomegranate pearls or dried and edible rose petals.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Setting/fermentation time: 9 hours
Refrigeration time: 30 minutes
Full-cream milk -1 lt
Palm jaggery, finely chopped -200 gms
Curd culture – 2tbsp.
For the flavoring:
Green cardamom powder- 1/4 tsp
In a heavy bottomed non-stick pan add the milk. Bring it to a boil and then simmer it till it reduces to half the quantity of its original volume.
Stir occasionally and keep scrapping the milk solids from the sides and add it to the milk which is simmering.
Remove from the flame and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Now add the chopped palm jaggery.
Mix well till the entire jaggery is completely dissolved.
While the milk is lukewarm add the curd culture and whisk it well so that the entire thing is thoroughly mixed.
Pour the doi mixture to the earthenware bowls. Seal with a food grade aluminium foil.
Keep it in a warm place overnight or for 9 hours.
When it sets, place it in the refrigerator to chill.
Serve chilled with a comfort meal or simply as a dessert.
Feel free to garnish it, if desired.
Place the sealed earthenware bowls carefully in the whole wheat flour box, as it will provide the accurate temperature required for setting the curd overnight. Once set, place in the refrigerator.
Here’s a soothing drink made with milk and ground almonds and flavoured with cardamom and saffron.
Preparation time: 02 hours 05 minutes
Cooking/simmering time: 15 minutes
Milk – 5 ½ cups
Almonds- ½ cup
Saffron – 1 gm.
Dates, dried, chopped – 04 nos. (Optional)
Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp.
Kalsakkare / Honey – 04 tsp.
For the Garnish:
Rose petals, dried and edible- ½ tbsp. (Optional)
Almonds, slivered – 1 tbsp.
Saffron, broiled- 1/4 th gm.
Soak the almonds in enough water for two hours.
Remove the peel and grind by adding a little milk to a smooth paste.
In a small bowl of hot milk, steep the saffron to extract maximum flavour and its vibrant colour.
In a heavy-bottomed deep pan, bring milk to a boil. Add the almond paste.
Simmer for 5 minutes. Now add saffron, dates, sugar/ honey/ kalsakkare. Stir and simmer for another five minutes.
Keep stirring till kalsakkare is completely dissolved.
Bring it to a gentle boil and turn off the heat. Add green cardamom powder and stir.
Serve it very hot or at room temperature garnished with slivered almonds, broiled saffron and rose petals (Optional).
DHUNGARI HUI CHAACH (SMOKED BUTTERMILK)
This Rajasthani drink is prepared using lightly spiced buttermilk. Mint leaves add an additional flavour to the chaach and it is given a dhungar with live coal. Pure ghee with cumin seeds imparts a further smoky flavour.
Preparation time: 10 min
Refrigeration time: 15 min.
Curd, chilled — 500 gms
Green chillies — 1 Mint leaves, chopped — 1/4 bunch
Coriander leaves, chopped— a few sprigs
Ginger – 5 gms.
Salt – To taste
Rock salt – 2 gms.
Cumin powder – 2 gms.
For the Tempering:
Oil- 5 ml
Asafoetida – a pinch
Mustard seeds- 2 gms.
For the Dhungar:
Bay leaf -2 nos.
Coal, live-2 nos.
Pure ghee- 8gmz.
Coal- 2 pieces
Clarified butter- 1 tsp.
For the Garnish:
Coriander leaves- 1/4th cup
Mint leaves- ¼ th cup
Ice cubes: as required
Whisk the curds add crushed green chillies and ginger.
Add chopped mint leaves and coriander leaves.
Add salt, rock salt, cumin powder and water.
Blend all the ingredients using a blender.
Now take a pan and heat oil in it.
Once it is hot add asafoetida and mustard seeds.
As the mustard seeds start cracking remove from the flame and pour on top of the buttermilk.
For Dhungar, take another utensil and a small steel bowl, place a bay leaf, on it place pieces of live coal and pour hot ghee over it, add cumin seeds and cover immediately with a lid to prevent the smoke from escaping. The bowl with coal is then removed from the utensil (Keep aside) and Chaach is poured over it immediately, swirling it around so it captures the smoky flavor / aroma.
Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Add the ice cubes and serve chilled garnished with chopped coriander leaves and mint leaves.
1. Curd and water used to make chaach should be very cold.
2. ‘Dhungar’ (Smoked) is a technique of imparting a smoky flavour to a dish, when a particular dish has finished cooking, a live coal is taken and pure ghee is poured on it, when it starts to smoke this is put in the pot, the smoke from the coal must be trapped in the pot by tightly closing the lid.
The smoke thus trapped for about 25 to 30 minutes, permeates the cooked food / beverage.
SABUDANA AUR NARIYAL KI KHEER (SAGO AND COCONUT PUDDING)
Soaking time for sabudana: 1 hour
Preparation time: 5 min
Cooking time: 15 min
Chilling time in the refrigerator: 2 hours or more, as desired
Sago (sabudana) soaked -1 cup
Fresh coconut milk, thick -3 cups
Coconut cream- 2 tbsp.
Coconut water- ½ cup
Organic honey- 3 tbsp.
Green cardamom powder -½ tsp.
Salt – a pinch
Coconut oil- ½ tbsp.
For the Garnish:
Lightly sautéed and sliced fresh coconut: ½ tbsp.
In a deep non-stick pan add the coconut milk and coconut water. Heat it on a medium flame and add the soaked sabudana, mix, simmer and cook till transparent and done. Add the coconut cream. Mix well.
Add a pinch of salt and continue to cook. Add the cardamom powder and mix well. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
Cool it down completely. Add organic honey. Mix well. Transfer in a glass bowl, cover and refrigerate at least for two hours.
Serve chilled garnished lightly sautéed coconut slices.
Wash the sabudana four to five times and then soak it for one hour.
Do not add too much of cardamom powder as it will mask the delicate flavours of coconut.
A pinch of salt is added to kheer, as it enhances and brings out the flavors and sweetness within.
Place the sautéed coconut slices on a kitchen absorbent paper to remove excess of oil.
If you want the kheer to have a crunch, add chopped and lightly sautéed coconut to it just before serving.