An Essential Guide to Fasting Food for Navratri
Navratri, an auspicious Indian festival, is dedicated to Goddess Durga. It is a nine days festival celebrated twice a year. A fasting ritual is followed for these nine days along with the celebrations. Did you know that fasting during Navratri also has scientific significance? During this period the digestion becomes weaker and immunity goes down. Hence, fasting was introduced to cope with these issues. People fasting during this period abstain from many foods including grains like wheat and rice that form a major part of our daily meals.
What can we eat during Navratri fast?
High-fiber foods rich in antioxidants, and other nutrients such as vegetables (only a few vegetables like potato, sweet potato, tomatoes, etc.), fruits, nuts, oilseeds, grains (Samak, rajgira, and buckwheat or kuttu), etc. are allowed for these 9 days (1). Most people find it difficult to manage to prepare healthy foods for fasting from limited food options. Do you experience this? If yes, then read this article. It contains a list of healthy and delicious Navratri fast food list.
Food Items To Focus On
1. A Colorful Bowl Of Fruits And Vegetables
Almost all types of fruits are allowed during Navratri fast. When it comes to vegetables, the opinions of people might differ regarding the inclusion and exclusion of some vegetables during the vrat. Some common vegetables that you can eat during Navratri fast are sweet potatoes, pumpkin, bottle guard, Ghia, potatoes, plantains (raw bananas), etc. You can mix a variety of fruits and vegetables (that you eat during the fast), spice this up with some rock salt, and have it as a salad. Or you can make a dip from ingredients like peanuts, sesame seeds, lemon, and some spices. Have your fruits and vegetables with this dip. This might add adequate amounts of fibers and antioxidants to your diet making your fast healthy and colorful. You can also pair your fasting meals with this colorful delight.
2. The Whole Grains
Whole grains such as samak, rajgira, and buckwheat or kuttu are allowed during Navratri fasting. They are lighter to digest foods that provide you with energy during fasting. These grains are rich in antioxidants and complex carbohydrates. You can find a variety of fasting recipes online that include whole grains. For instance, kuttu chilla with your favorite vrat chutney or curd, samak khichadi with curd and peanuts, puffed rajgira or rajgira roti with Navratri special sabzis, etc. can be included in your Navratri fasting menu.
3. The Right Herbs and Spices
Table salt is restricted in the Navratri upwas foods. People use rock salt instead. However, you can use additional spices and herbs in your Navratri fasting foods to balance the flavors. Let’s know about what herbs and spices you can eat during Navratri?
- Cumin/ Jeera seeds – With a strong flavor, these seeds might rev up your normal digestion process by increasing the activity of digestive enzymes (2). You can add them to your buttermilk, curd, sabzi, roti, salads, and every savory upwas food you prepare during Navratri.
- Black pepper powder – Black pepper powder might help your gut release adequate digestive enzymes necessary to digest the food that you eat. You can add this to your curd, bread, salads, and sabzis.
- Green chilies and ginger – These spices are rich in antioxidants and they might also help in regulating your blood sugar levels. A simple way to include them in your Navratri fast food is to add ginger and green chili paste in the savory dishes that you make during the fast.
- Apart from these, you can also add spices like ajwain or carom seeds, lemon, dry pomegranate seeds, etc. to your upwas recipes. The spices like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, black and green cardamom, etc. can go well with your sweet dishes like kheer, and halwa.
4. Dairy And Its Alternatives
Milk and milk products like curd, buttermilk, paneer (cottage cheese), cheese, etc. can also be added to your fasting menu. But what if we are allergic to dairy or following a vegan dietary routine? Here are the alternatives that you can use:
Usually, nuts are allowed during Navratri fasting. Hence, you can include milk, curd, and cheese made from almonds, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, etc. These products are easily available in the online as well as offline markets. Ensure that these products are suitable for your Navratri fasting by reading the ingredient labels. Or you can also prepare these dairy alternatives at home referring to the online recipe guides.
What to Avoid During Navratri Fast?
After knowing about the foods that you can include in your fast, let’s discuss what not to eat during the Navratri fast?
What to avoid?
Wheat, rice, semolina, millets (bajra, ragi, jowar), corn, and cornflour
Legumes and pulses
All the legumes and pulses including beans and soya beans
Garlic and onions are strongly prohibited. Other restrictions vary from household to household
The restriction for spices differs from household to household. Some of them refrain from adding Haldi, cumin, and coriander to their fasting recipes. However, some households prefer to use everything except table salt
Alcohol, eggs, and non-vegetarian foods
All types of non-vegetarian foods
Tips For A Safe Navratri Fasting
- If you are fasting during Navratri, it is essential to consume smaller meals at regular intervals to regulate your metabolism.
- In order to ensure adequate fluid intake, you can include foods like smoothies, buttermilk, lassi, and fruits along with a water intake of 8-10 glasses per day. This will keep your body hydrated.
- Choose steamed or roasted foods instead of fried foods to reduce the consumption of extra calories during the Navratri fast. For example, you can replace the fried potato chips and pakoras with baked kuttu bati, rajgira roti, and puffed rajgira in your Navratri fasting menu.
- Pro-tip: Plan your Navratri menu in advance and stock up your shelves with nuts, kuttu ka atta, rajgira atta, samak ka chawal, dried fruits, etc. to ensure that you don’t run out of healthy foods ingredients during the festival.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can we eat sesame seeds/til in Navratri fast?
Yes, you can consume sesame seeds/til in Navratri fast. Some people also prefer to consume sesame seeds/til throughout the day during their fast.
Can we eat soybean in Navratri fast?
Legumes and pulses are entirely eliminated from the food plate during Navratri fast. Hence, you cannot eat soybeans during this period.
Can we eat paan in Navratri fast?
You can eat paan in Navratri fast. However, you need to customize it accordingly. For instance, a paan that is stuffed with Navratri - friendly ingredients like cherry, coconut, gulkand, saunf (fennel seeds), some nuts, etc. is good to go. Note: Do not add tobacco to it if you are fasting during Navratri.
Can we eat biscuits at Navratri fast?
Biscuits made out of flours like kuttu, rajgira or samak can be consumed during Navratri fast. If they contain ingredients like wheat, cornflour, refined flours (maida), etc. you can’t consider having them on your plate.
Can we eat curd during Navratri fast?
Milk and milk products are allowed during Navratri fast. Hence, you can have curd during this time.
Can we eat jeera in Navratri fast?
Yes, you can have raw or roasted jeera in your Navratri fast. Using roasted Jeera powder for spicing up your dishes is also a good idea.
Can we eat corn in Navratri fast?
No, corn is not allowed during Navratri fast
Can we eat eggs in Navratri?
Eggs and non-vegetarian foods like meat, fish, seafood, etc. are completely prohibited during Navratri.
Spices used in Navratri fast
Jeera (cumin seeds), saunf (fennel seeds), cinnamon, cardamom, coriander seeds, turmeric, clove, ginger, chilies, etc. are the spices that you can use in Navratri fast.