Sharad Navratri, Durga Puja and Recipes

Bear with me, this is a long post. You can research more online if you want but here is most you will need to understand about Durga Puja and Navratri, the nine nights of Devi.

Durga Puja, also called Durgotsava and Navratri, is an annual Hindu festival in the Indian subcontinent that reveres the goddess Durga.Durga Puja is celebrated during Devi Paksha which is 15 days period of Ashwin lunar month as per Hindu calendar. Devi Paksha begins on the next day of Sarvapitru Amavasya and ends on Kojagori Lokkhi Puja. Devi Paksha literally translates to “Fortnight of the Goddess”.

Durga puja is particularly popular in West Bengal, Odisha, Assam and Tripura, and the diaspora from this region. It is one of the bigger religious festivals of India which is celebrated throughout the country with great zeal and fervour. Durga Puja is particularly celebrated in the state of West Bengal in Kolkata in the honour of celebrating the unfathomable power of Goddess Durga. Whereas Navratri is very popular festival in the western states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and the southern state of Karnataka. The festivals are celebrated during the span of whole period of Navratri for a time span of 10 days. From the sixth day of Navratri till the ninth day the huge pandaals of the Goddess Durga are open for the visitors. The tenth day of the Navaratri is called as Dashami and on this day the idols of the Goddess Durga are immersed into water and this process is called as Visarjan. This year in 2017, dashami is falling on 30th September.

Durga Puja 2017 will begin on Tuesday, 26 September and ends on Saturday, 30 September but you may want to check the time for where you are on this planet. It will vary. As well these celebrations are done differently in different parts of India.

Navratri is celebrated five times a year and typically at the junction of Ritu change. They are also based upon the lunar calendar so the exact dates change every year. Navratri is the best time to subdue and bring into alignment the shadow planet Rahu. Rahu represents the demon in our mind, our desires that bind us to the material world. Obsessions. For those who want to pacify Rahu, or even improve its influence in their chart, Navratri is the best time for Rahu Sadhana, as Durga is the cosmic force and the remedy that destroys all inner and outer demons. It is useful to fast and worship and meditate upon Durga during these nine nights, with the mindset to overcome our inner fears and the resolve to confront and overcome our weaknesses. The fact that millions are chanting the Durga mantra during these nine days and nights further accentuates our personal sadhana.

Lord Rama worshipped Goddess Durga before going to war with Ravana. He had performed Chandi Homa and sought the blessing of Goddess Durga before going to war. As Lord Rama was blessed with victory over powerful demon Ravana, this time of the year is considered the most suitable to seek blessings of Goddess Durga and to perform Chandi Homa.

As per Devi Mahatmya, Durga Puja festival marks the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura. Hence Durga Puja festival is observed as the victory of good over evil.

There is much more detail to what is done every day but this is a brief overview.

The festivities Durga Puja last for ten days and the main ritual is only for the last four days. Each day of Durga Puja has a special significance and the preparation for the festivals begin months before the festival.

On the day of the ‘Rath Yatra’ or the Chariot Festival, the artisans make the foundation for the Pratima – Durga effigy. Part of the clay used in the festival is brought with the blessings of Courtesans or sex workers, signifying the all encompassing love of the mother. Some people also believe it is because, courtesans are believed to be adept at all the arts. A special puja is done before the collection of the clay.

The Pratima is made over the next two months by skilful craftsmen who have been doing this work for generations. They have mastered the art of making beautiful effigies, which in themselves are exquisite pieces of art.

Mahalaya day, or the first day of Durgotsav, is the day the Goddess is invited to come to earth with her children with Agomoni. It is the last day of the Pitri Paksha and the day of new moon. Historically this day has come to be associated with ‘Mahisasur Mardini’, an All India Radio program that plays the Chandi Path and Bhakti songs in Bengali in West Bengal and in Hindi all over India.

The ‘Chakkhu Daan’ – literally, the giving of eyes ritual, happens on the day of Mahalaya. The eyes of the Devi are drawn on this day. This ritual signifies the spirit of the Goddess getting instilled in the clay effigy.

India celebrates Durga Puja wherein the community comes together for a ‘Sarbojanin Puja’ – community worship. Huge decorative structures called ‘Pandals’ are constructed for the prayers, bhog and cultural functions. These pandals are mostly temporary structures and are made especially for the festival.

On the sixth day of the moon called Shasthi, Durga is welcomed with a ritual called ‘Bodhon’ in which the Pratima is unveiled for the public. Mothers fast for their children and their wellbeing. The fast is broken in the evening with fruits, vegetable and pooris.

The next day, Saptami starts with the bath of ‘Kola Bou’ – Banana Plantain. The twigs of white aparajita plant along with nine bunches of yellow threads are used to tie the Nabapatrika and then it is bathed in holy water.

Nabapatrika or the nine plants of worship depicts nine forms of goddess Durga. The banana plant represents Goddess Brahmani, the Colacassia plant represents Goddess Kalika, the Turmeric plant symbolises Devi Durga, the Jayanti plant denotes Kartiki, the Wood apple represents Goddess Shivaa (another name for Durga), the Pomegranate represents Raktadantika, the Ashoka tree symbolizes Sokrahita, and the Arum plant represents Chamunda and the Rice plant Goddess Lakshmi.

This ritual predates the Durga Puja Celebration as it derives from the nature worshipping rituals of the farming communities in east India, as this time also coincides coincidentally with harvest time.

Ashtami is the most important day of Durga Puja. Pushpanjali (offerings of flowers) is offered in the morning and Aarati is done by the priest. This is also the day of Prana Pratishthana – infusing of life in the murti. In this ritual the Pratima is reflected on a wide bowl of water.

At the time when Navami begins and Ashtami ends, Sandhi Puja is performed. It was at this moment Devi Durga transformed into Devi Chamunda to kill ‘Chand’ and ‘Mund’, the two generals of the demon Mahishasura. A 108 diyas are lit during the Sandhi Puja and dhak is played with fervency and people dance to the beats.

It is customary to perform a sacrifice during the Sandhi Puja. Obviously only a symbolic animal sacrifice is performed these days with vegetables like banana, cucumber or pumpkin.

Subhasini Puja, Kanya Puja, and Dampati Puja are observed on Mahanavami day in Navratri. On this day, the goddess Durga is worshipped in the form of Aparajita, and is offered sugarcane stalks. This day signifies Durga’s victory over Mahishasur (The Buffalo Demon). This the last day of last day of Durga Puja and a Navami Bhog is served to the people. Goddess Durga is offered food which is later distributed among the devotees. The ninth day of Navratri is also called the Ayudha Puja. This is the day we worship our tools and instruments, and other objects used in daily life because they help us achieve our goals. It is the manifestation of our earthly being.

Dashami is the day when Goddess Durga and her children set off for Kailash, her husband’s abode. Starting with Sindur Khela – married women play with vermillion like on Holi, and apply it on each other and give sweets to each other. This day is also called the Vijaya Dashami, celebrating the victory of Durga over the Mahisasur. Durga’s victory against Mahishasura has been taken to signify not just the fight between gods and demons or good versus evil, but also the concepts of truth and mental illumination triumphing over falsehood and ignorance.

At the bottom there are recipes for food to be following during this time. Enjoy. 

Nava Durga are the manifestations of Durga in nine different forms. The concept of Navdurga originates from Goddess Parvati. Conceptually Navdurga is the life phase of Goddess Parvati who is considered supreme power among all Goddesses.
List of Navdurga
  1. Devi Siddhidatri – In the beginning of the universe Lord Rudra worshipped Adi-Parashakti for creation. It is believed that Goddess Adi-Parashakti had no form. The supreme Goddess of Power, Adi-Parashakti, appeared in the form of Siddhidatri from the left half of Lord Shiva.
  2. Devi Kushmanda – After taking form of Siddhidatri, Goddess Parvati started living inside the center of the Sun so that He can liberate energy to the universe. Since then Goddess is known as Kushmanda. Kushmanda is the Goddess who has the power and capability to live inside the Sun. The glow and radiance of her body is as luminous as that of the Sun.
  3. Devi Brahmacharini – After Kushmanda form, Goddess Parvati took birth at the home of Daksha Prajapati. In this form the Goddess Parvati was a great Sati and her unmarried form is worshipped as Goddess Brahmacharini.
  4. Devi Shailputri – After the self-immolation as Goddess Sati, Goddess Parvati took birth as the daughter of Lord Himalaya. In Sanskrit Shail means the mountain and due to which Goddess was known as Shailputri, the daughter of the mountain.
  5. Devi Mahagauri – According to Hindu mythologies, the Goddess Shailputri at the age of sixteen was extremely beautiful and was blessed with fair complexion. Due to her extreme fair complexion she was known as Goddess Mahagauri.
  6. Devi Chandraghanta – Goddess Chandraghanta is the married form the Goddess Parvati. After getting married to Lord Shiva Goddess Mahagauri started adorning her forehead with half Chandra and due to which Goddess Parvati was known as Goddess Chandraghanta.
  7. Devi Skandamata – When Goddess became the mother of Lord Skanda (also known as Lord Kartikeya), Mata Parvati was known with the name of Goddess Skandamata.
  8. Devi Katyayani – To destroy demon Mahishasura, Goddess Parvati took the form of Goddess Katyayani. It was the most violent form of Goddess Parvati. In this form Goddess Parvati is also known as Warrior Goddess.
  9. Devi Kalaratri – When the Goddess Parvati removed outer golden skin to kill demons named Shumbha and Nishumbha, She was known as Goddess Kalaratri. Kalaratri is the fiercest and the most ferocious form of Goddess Parvati.

 

Proper puja and reading of the Devi Mahatmya with full instructions and mantras etc is found here…. Devi Mahatmya and audio of the entire thing can be found here…. Audio but I believe most of this is way beyond the understanding of the readers here. This is the real thing.

 

Fasting

Fasting is the act of refraining from having food and liquids for a period of time. It si the only real way of controlling the mind truly. Fasting brings about a spiritual awareness and is recognized as a technique to practice self-control. It brings about greater awareness of the body and its functions. It brings about greater awareness of one’s weaknesses and false emotional desires. Not having food and water for a period, is only the first stage to self control. With the process of fasting, one disciplines the mind. Fasting also helps to give rest to the physiological functions of the body. Warning to those that are vata predominant or have vata aggravation, don’t do fasting.

To please the goddess and to seek blessings from Durga Ma, many people keep fast during Durga puja. This traditional ritual of fasting is observed to honor the Devi for her triumph over evil. During the time of fast, the devotee should be in a state of self examination and tapas and put all the worldly pleasures behind. Reading the Devi Mahatmya and Chandi enables the devotee to concentrate and meditate.

One must rise early in the morning, bathe, wear new clothes and then offer prayers to Durga Ma. Many ways of fasting are followed during the Durga puja. Fasting can look like only having milk and fruits during the entire day, but not together. Another way is to have only one meal a day, after sunrise to before the sunset. Young girls or ‘Kumarikas’ are given food and gifts by those who observe fast, as part of the ritual on the day of Durga puja. Alcohol and non-vegetarian food is strictly forbidden while fasting. Generally, only 8 to 12 hours of fasting is observed during the puja. There are also general knowledge about how to come off a fast. You do not go out and have pasta or a burger with fries after, you need to build the digestion back to strength or you will have just caused the start of disease in your system by putting much to heavy food in your system that cannot be digested. (Warning: Naive westerners will say to you that the horrible feeling your feeling is because you are detoxing from fasting, but that is ignorance, it is because you have just created toxicity in your system, food poisoning can follow.)

Fasting is an important part of the auspicious festival of Durga Puja, observed by most all devout followers. It is believed that the ‘Devi’ bestows her blessings and fulfills the wishes of those who observe the fast during Durga Puja.

 

 

Best to fast

But….

for the most of people reading this

instead of fasting…..

During the celebration the purpose is tapas, so indulgence should be avoided, and let your own viveka guide / give you the power to discriminate between what to eat and what not. Whatever you do, eat less.

What’s OK to eat –

1. Milk and milk products – milk, ghee, yogurt, cream (avoid the whipped ones in red spray like containers), fresh paneer, butter, butter milk (takra)

2. Fruits – generally all seasonal fruits

3. Dry fruits / nuts – all – cashews, almonds, dates, walnut, pecans, pine nuts, peanuts, raisins

4. Vegetables – traditionally vegetables that grow underground – potatoes yes potatoes although it is not a wholesome food in ayurveda it is still eaten widely at this time, sweet potatoes, yams which are not the sweet potatoes in the store (look up a elephant yam), taro root, arrow root.
5. Flours and seeds – Kuttu (buck wheat), Singora (water chestnut), sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds – flax seeds.
6. Sugars – generally all forms – guda, honey, sugar (organic), fruit nectars, etc. avoid artificial / synthetic sweeteners / syrups.
7. Natural fruit juices (avoid fermented ones like cider and also avoid frozen, packaged or bottled juices, only fresh. That being said, also juice is not taken in the Western 24 ounce per serving size. 4 ounces max per serving)
8. Chai / herbal teas. (again, a chai is not a 16 ounce glass of chai, 4 ounces per serving max)

What should be avoided –

1. All alcoholic, fermented and carbonated drinks
2. Smoking
3. Meat – all kinds of meat and products – beef, goat, pork, sea food, fish, eggs.
4. Cereals and grains – wheat and wheat flour, all purpose flour, all kinds of bread, rice, rice flour, rice milk, breakfast cereals, soy beans, soy milk, corn, tortillas, lentils and beans (all forms – moong, urad, kidney beans, black eyed beans, no exceptions), green peas, garbanzo beans, chick peas, besan / chick pea flour, millet, barley – essentially any grain that you can imagine.
5. Vegetables – onions, garlic, tomatoes, chilies, bell peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, green leafy vegetables, beans etc.

 

 

Navratri Special Recipes

Goddess evoking, moon pleasing, woo woo warrior goddess hero meaning making pitta-balancing foods:
1. No meat (beef, lamb), poultry (chicken, duck, turkey) or fish (or any form of seafood) for the nine days.
2. No grains: wheat, rice, barley, oatmeal, corn, etc. during Navratri.
3. Refrain from alcohol consumption and smoking.
4. No onion and garlic (since they are tamasic in nature) are used in the food during these nine days
5. Use only rock salt.
6. Spices used are black pepper corns (no dried red or fresh green chillies), cumin, black zeera, turmeric powder, cardamom.
7. Fresh herbs: coriander, curry leaves and ginger.
8. Can eat all fresh (and sweet, no sour) fruits, nuts and dairy products (no processed cheese).
9. Non-grain based flours used are – Singhara (water chestnut) flour, Kuttu
(buckwheat) flour, Sabudana (tapioca / sago) – available at Indian stores.
10. Ghee or unsalted butter is the medium for cooking.
11. Vegetables used are – potatoes, sweet potato, arbi (colocassia / taro root), raw banana (plantain), lemon, water chestnut, suran (yam), pumpkin, lauki (doodhi /opo), carrots and raw papaya.

Suggested shopping list:
The recipes are suggestions; you don’t have to cook them all!! So buy only what you are making.
· Sweet fruits like banana, apple, grapes, watermelon, peaches etc.
· Nuts: cashews, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, walnut etc.
· Daily products: milk (cow milk ideal, goat milk OK, but NO soy or rice milk), butter.
· Vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, raw green banana / plantains, pumpkin/butternut squash, carrots, cucumber.

· Groceries at Indian stores:
Vegetables: arbi, lauki (doodhi), water chestnuts, suran (yam).
Spices and herbs: cumin seeds, cumin powder, methi (fenugreek) seeds, black pepper corns, rock salt (aka sindaloo / sendha namak), turmeric powder, fresh ginger, curry leaves, green cardamom, cinnamon.
Others – Ghee, singhara / kuttu atta, saboodana, lotus seeds (makhana, if using).

And then this is how you do it…. the recipes
RECIPES

A. Drinks

Chai
· Put ¾ cup water, ¼ inch grated ginger, 1 ½ spoon sugar in a pan, cover and bring to a boil.
· Add 1 tsp. loose Orange Pekoe black tea (or you can use black tea bag) and let it boil for 1 minute.
· Add ¼ cup milk and bring it to another boil for about 1 more minute.

Takra Lassi Sweet
(Lassi is a yogurt drink, filling–can be a meal substitute–and helpful in digestion)
· 1 cup regular yogurt
· 2 tsp sugar (more the merrier!!)
· ¼ cup water
· 1 tsp. rose water or Kewda water (both available at Indian grocery stores) for fragrance / flavor (optional) Best if you’ve made your own
· Put all the ingredients in a blender, blend / frappe until smooth.
Best enjoyed in spring and summer.

Takra Lassi Salted
· 1 cup regular yogurt
· ¼ cup water
· ¼ cup roasted zeera (cumin) powder
· Salt to taste
· Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend / frappe until smooth.

Spiced Milk (serves as a meal substitute)
· Put 1 cup milk, 3-4 black pepper corns (crushed) ¼ tsp. turmeric, 2-3 crushed cardamom, 1 ½ tsp. sugar, 2-3 strands saffron in a pan.
· Heat and boil the milk for about 5 minutes on medium / low heat (make sure it spill).
· Strain and sip warm.

Yes, this is not the proper way to make takra, this is for the ease of it. Those that know how to make takra properly can.

B. Snacks

Arbi Patties / Cutlets
(Patties / cutlets made of Arbi / Taro root)
· 1 lb. medium sized Arbi / Taro root (available at Indian or Chinese stores and sometimes Wholefoods)
· 2 potatoes
· 2 tsp. fresh chopped coriander
· 2 tsp. grated coconut (available at Indian stores — you can use fresh or dried)
· 1 tsp. roasted and crushed peanuts
· 2-3 tsp. singhara or kuttu flour
· 7-8 crushed black pepper corns
· Salt to taste
· Ghee for deep frying

-Steam or pressure cook the Arbi and potatoes for about 10 minutes, let
cool and peel and mash.
-Mix all the ingredients except ghee and flour and cool in refrigerator for
about 15-20 minutes (you can use this time to make the Peanut -Yogurt
Chutney to go with these patties)
-Make small / medium sized balls with the mix and press it between the
palms to flatten them.
-Roll / dredge the patties in the flour (don’t discard the remaining flour, it
can be used for some other preparations) shake the excess flour.
-Deep fry in ghee until crispy and golden brown.
-Serve with chutney.

Batata Wada
For Batter
· 1 cup kuttu flour
· 1 tbsp singhara flour
· 1 tsp. arrowroot flour
· 1 tbsp. hot ghee
· 3-4 pinches turmeric powder
· salt to taste
· water

For Filling
· 3 potatoes, boiled & mashed
· 4-5 black pepper corns crushed
· 2 tbsp. coriander leaves finely chopped
· 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
· 1 tbsp curry leaves finely chopped
· salt to taste
· 1 tbsp. ghee
· More ghee to deep fry!!!

-Mix all ingredients to make a smooth batter, it should coat the back of
a spoon thickly, keep aside till required.
-Heat ghee in a pan, add curry leaves and cumin seeds till fragrant and
splutter.
-Add potato, salt, coriander, mix well.
-Cool a little, make round balls, keep aside till required.
-Heat ghee in frying pan.
-Dip each ball in batter, let gently into hot ghee.
-Fry on medium heat till light golden.
-Serve hot with coconut chutney.

C. Condiments

Peanut Yogurt Chutney
· ½ cup plain yogurt
· 1 tsp. roasted and crushed peanuts
· 4-5 black pepper corns crushed
· 2 tsp. fresh coriander
· 1 stalk of curry leaves
· ½ tsp. sugar
· ½ tsp ghee
· Salt to taste

-Beat the yogurt to make it smooth.
-In a small pan, heat the ghee and add curry leaves till they splutter
-Add ghee, curry leaves and all other ingredients into the yogurt and mix
really well.
-Refrigerate and served with Zeera Aloo, Arbi Patties or Singhara / Kuttu
Pooris

Coconut Chutney
· 1 cup fresh grated coconut
· 4-5 ground black pepper
· 2 tbsp. coriander finely chopped
· 1 lemon juice extracted
· ½ tsp. sugar
· ½ tsp. cumin seeds
· salt to taste
· 1 tsp. ghee

-Put together coconut, coriander, sugar, salt, lemon juice and blend
using minimal water.
-Heat ghee in a small pan, add cumin seeds, allow to splutter.
-Pour chutney in a bowl, and pour the ghee and cumin on the chutney.
-Garnish with a tiny bit of chopped coriander if desired.
-Serve as accompaniment with parathas, khichdi, pakoras, etc.

D. Main dishes / Entrée

Jeera Aloo
(Potatoes with cumin seed)
· 3 peeled and boiled potatoes
· 1 tsp Jeera (cumin) seeds
· 6 black pepper corns – crushed
· 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander / cilantro leaves
· Juice of ½ lemon
· Salt to taste
· 2 tbsp ghee

-Cut boiled potatoes into bite size pieces.
-Heat ghee and sauté cumin seeds until fragrant
-Add chopped potatoes, stir and fry for about 5 minutes.
-Transfer to a bowl, add lemon juice, salt, crushed black pepper and coriander
leaves.
-Toss well and serve.

Kachche kele ki subzi
(Plantain with cumin seed)
· 2 green bananas / plantains
· 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
· 6 crushed black pepper corns
· 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
· 1 tsp coriander / cilantro leaves, chopped
· 2 tsp lemon juice
· 1 tbsp ghee
· 1 stalk curry leaves
· Salt to taste

-Peel the plantain and chop them into pieces.
-Take sufficient amount of water in a pan and add 1 tsp. salt.
-Immediately transfer the plantain in salted water to prevent discoloring, and put the pan water to boil.
-While the plantains are boiling, add turmeric powder and cook until soft.
-Drain the water and let the plantains to cool.
-Heat ghee in a pan and add curry leaves and cumin seeds until fragrant, add the plantain pieces, fold and mix well.
-Transfer to a bowl, add lemon juice and chopped coriander / cilantro.

Sabudana Khichdi
(Sago / Tapioca Khichdi)
· 1 cup sabudana / tapioca (drained in water for about three hours)
· 2 medium sized potatoes, peeled, julienned and cut into ½ inch pieces
· 7-8 black peppercorns crushed
· ½ tsp. jeera
· 2 table spoon ghee
· ¼ cup spoon roasted (or fried) peanuts crushed
· 1 tsp. finely chopped coriander / cilantro for garnish
· Salt to taste.

-Heat ghee in a pan and add jeera to the heated ghee, until fragrant
-Add the cut potatoes and sauté them for 5 minutes
-Add the sabudana (make sure there is no water remaining, otherwise the khichdi will be soggy)
-Add peanuts, salt and crushed black peppercorns
-Mix well and sauté for additional 5 minutes so everything is evenly
warm / heated
-Garnish with chopped cilantro / coriander and serve hot
-(For additional flavor, you can squeeze some lemon juice as
garnish – NEVER cook lemon juice).

Pumpkin Curry
· 1 lb. pumpkin or butternut squash
· 2 tsp ghee
· ¼ tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
· ¼ tsp. jeera (cumin) seeds
· ¼ tsp turmeric powder
· 6-8 crushed black pepper corns (optional)
· ½ tsp. sugar (optional)
· Salt to taste
· 1 tsp. chopped coriander / cilantro

-Peel (remove the hard skin) and cut the pumkin / squash to about 1
inch / bite size pieces.
-Heat ghee in a pan, when hot, add the methi and jeera seeds, sauté
until fragrant.
-Add the pumpkin / squash, salt, turmeric and (if using) sugar and
black peppercorns.
-Mix well, stir, cover and let it cook for 10 minutes at medium /
medium low heat, stirring every 2-3 minutes.
-When cooked, it would be soft and mushy.
-Garnish with chopped coriander / cilantro and serve hot.
-Best enjoyed with sighara / kuttu poori (next)

E. Breads / Side Dishes

Kuttu / Singhara Poori
(Pooris are a deep-fried Indian bread made of Water Chestnut or Buckwheat flour)

· 1 cup flour – either Singhara (water chestnut) or Kuttu (buck wheat)
· 1 tbsp. ghee
· ¼ tsp. roasted cumin powder
· ¼ cup finely chopped coriander / cilantro leaves
· ½ cup boiled and peeled potatoes
· 4 crushed black pepper corns (optional)
· Salt to taste
· Water for kneading
· More ghee for deep frying!!

-Mix all the ingredients thoroughly (except ghee for frying) in the Singhara/ Kuttu flour. (This flour is not like normal flour, so don’t add too much
water.)
-After mixing all the ingredients together and kneading with water into a
pliable dough, form round balls in your hand, one by one, adding scant
water as you knead each ball.
-Flatten ball into a poori, and deep fry until crisp and brown (about 1
minute each).

Navratri aloo parantha
(Paratha is a pan-friend Indian bread)
For the dough
· 1 ½ cups kuttu flour
· 1 tbsp. ghee
· salt to taste

For the filling
· 1 potato boiled and mashed
· 1 tbsp. coriander leaves finely chopped
· 6-8 crushed black pepper corns
· 1 tsp. ginger grated
· ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
· ½ tsp. cumin seeds
· salt to taste
· Ghee to shallow / pan-fry

-Mix all ingredients and knead into a soft, pliable dough
-Cover with a moist cloth, keep aside.
-For the filling – heat ghee in a heavy pan, add cumin seeds and ginger
till they sputter.
-Add mashed potatoes, coriander mix well.
-Divide dough and filling into equal parts, shape the dough into balls
pressing with the thumb in the center for the filling.
-Bring together all edges of round over filling, press lightly to close
-Dust lightly with kuttu flour and roll into a paratha
-On a heated skillet (tawa), roast the paratha on one side, drizzle some
ghee and flip to the other side and repeat.
-Serve hot with coconut chutney or pumpkin curry.

Navratri Raita
(Raita is a side dish)
· 1 potato, boiled, chopped
· 1 cucumber, chopped
· 4-5 water chestnuts (singhara), boiled, peeled & chopped
· 1 tsp. roasted and crushed peanuts
· 1 cup fresh plain yogurt
· 1 tbsp. coriander finely chopped
· 4-5 crushed black pepper corns
· ½ tsp. cumin seeds whole
· salt to taste
· sugar to taste
· 1 tsp. ghee

-Beat the yogurt, salt, sugar and black pepper corns in a bowl, add 2-3
tsp. water for smoothness and consistency.
-Add all prepared vegetables, peanuts, mix to blend well.
-Chill well till required.
-Heat ghee in tempering spoon and add cumin seeds, till they splutter.
-Pour sizzling tempering over raita.
-Garnish with chopped coriander.

Aloo ka Raita
(Potatoes Raita)
· ½ cup boiled and peeled potatoes, coarsely mashed
· 1 cup plain or low fat yogurt
· Salt to taste
· ½ tsp. sugar
· 2/3 crushed black pepper corns

-Mix sugar, salt, black pepper corns into yogurt.
-Add the boiled potatoes and fold well
-Cool for about ½ hour, serve.
F. Dessert

Saboodana Kheer
(Tapioca pudding. Kheer is a popular dessert, rice kheer / pudding is the most common of them all)

· 1 tbsp Sago granules
· 4 cups milk
· ¼ tsp cardamom powder
· ¾ cup sugar
· 1 cup water

-Wash sago granules, drain and leave aside for 10 minutes.
-Fluff / toss the sago when the moisture has been absorbed, this is
done to prevent them from sticking.
-Heat water, bring it to a boil and add sago, stirring constantly, let it
simmer for about 5 minutes.
-Add milk, sugar and cardamom (crush the seeds into a powder), let
it simmer, stirring frequently.
-Cook until sago is very soft, but not mushy, and the whole thing is
a very thick consistency.
-Best served hot — garnish with saffron string (optional).

 

Khajoor Kheer (Pudding made with Dates and Almonds)

Ingredients –

1. 8 -10 Medjool dates – pitted and finely chopped
2. 10-12 Almonds – coarsely ground
3. 2 cups Milk (whole)
4. 1-2 tsp. Ghee (or more)
5. ½ tsp. Cardamom powder
6. ¼ tsp. Nutmeg powder / grated
7. 1 tsp. Sugar (optional)
8. 1-2 Saffron strands (for garnishing) (optional)

Procedure –

1. Heat a thick bottomed pan, add ghee, when melted, add chopped dates and almonds and sauté for about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add milk and sugar (if using), turn the heat to medium, mix everything well and let it simmer, stirring in between, until the milk-dates-almond mixture thickens and reduces in volume from 2 cups to about one to one and half cups, this should take about 15-20 minutes.
3. Stir the cardamom and nutmeg powders and simmer for another 5 minutes, garnish with Saffron and enjoy warm.

(Sugar is optional, but it tastes better with some sugar and more ghee!)

Note – you can also make a Sweet Potato pudding following the same recipe, simply replace the chopped dates with 1 medium sized boiled, peeled and grated sweet potato. Also, coarsely ground / chopped walnuts and raisins may be added, while simmering

Sabudana / Tapioca Pudding

Ingredients –

1. 1 cup Sabudana / Tapioca
2. 2 cup Milk (whole)
3. 4 tsp. Sugar (or more, to taste)
4. 2 -3 tsp. crushed Cashew nut
5. 1 tsp. Raisin

Procedure –

1. Wash and drain the Sabudana / Tapioca, then soak it in milk for about 1 hour.
2. Add sugar to the milk and tapioca and simmer for about 15 minutes on medium-low heat.
3. Add cashews and raisins and simmer for another 10 minutes, until it has a sauce like consistency but not very thick.
4. Savor it warm.

Note – if you think the pudding is too thick, add a little milk to bring it to desired consistency.

Tandul / Samo (aka Rice for fasting, but it NOT rice)

Ingredients –

1. 1 cup Samo (available at Indian grocery stores, specially during Navratri)
2. 3-4 tsp. Ghee
3. ¼ tsp. Cumin seeds
4. 4 cup water
5. ½ tsp. Salt (more or less, to taste)
6. ½ cup or more roasted and crushed peanuts

Procedure –

1. In a heated pan, dry roast Samo on medium heat, stirring frequently, till its lightly pinkish (about 5 minutes), and set aside.
2. Dry roast or shallow fry (in 1 tsp. ghee), ½ cup peanuts, fry / roast for about 1-2 minutes, till they are golden and set them aside.
3. Heat the ghee in the pan, add cumin seeds, swirl till they are fragrant, about 5 seconds, then add roasted Samo and salt, mix well so that the Samo is coated with ghee.
4. Add water, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the Samo is thoroughly cooked.
5. While the Samo is cooking, crush the roasted / fried peanuts.
6. Mix the coarsely grounded peanuts to the cooked Samo and enjoy it fresh and hot.
Roasted Peanuts (Make a variation by using almonds or cashews or a combination of them all)

Ingredients –

1. 1 cup raw peanuts (with or without the red skin)
2. salt to taste
3. ¼ tsp. roasted cumin powder
4. 5-6 crushed black pepper corns
5. 2 tsp. freshly chopped coriander / cilantro
6. ghee for frying

Process –

1. In a deep pan, heat the ghee.
2. Add the peanuts in batches and fry for less than 1 minute, they would be lightly golden (don’t overdo it otherwise they would be bitter).
3. Add salt, roasted cumin powder, black pepper corns, chopped cilantro, mix well, enjoy hot with chai!!

Cool green yogurt

Ingredients –

1. 1 bunch cilantro / coriander
2. 1 inch ginger
3. salt to taste
4. 4-6 crushed black pepper corns
5. 1 tsp. sugar
6. 1 cup plain yogurt (whole or low-fat)
7. 1 stalk of curry leaves
8. ¼ tsp. or less mustard seeds
9. a pinch of heeng (asafetida)
10. 2 tsp ghee

Process –

1. To make the chutney, put ingredients from 1- 5 in a blender and puree until very smooth.
2. Next whisk the yogurt to make it smooth, and add 2-3 spoons of the coriander chutney, mix well.
3. For the garnish – in a ladel, heat the ghee, add a pinch (no more than a pinch) heeng / asafetida and mustard seeds, let the seeds pop, then add curry leaves till they splutter.
4. Top the chutney mixed yogurt with garnish

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