From makhanas to kuttu to singhara, here are ways to add taste and spice to food while fasting
Many healthy and indigenous ingredients have survived monocultures and related agricultural practices as they are linked to festivals or religious ceremonies. They are easily available. This weekend, if you are fasting, try these ‘First Food’ recipes.
MAKHANA: ‘More than religious’
Makhana (Euryale ferox), popularly known as foxnut, grows mainly in the wetlands of Bihar. Food experts believe that makhana, or the puffed seeds of this plant, has the potential to become a multi-crore enterprise just as a household snack.
It is effective in curing cardiovascular diseases, according to Ayurveda. It is also rich in proteins. Try the makhana paratha for breakfast during this fasting season.
Mash potato and knead with makhana powder. Mix salt and chopped chillis to taste. Make balls from the dough. Roll out as for chapatis and cook on griddle till sufficiently brown.
KUTTU: ‘Floured’, by a fruit
Kuttu or buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is an important part of the plate during fasts. It is a high-fibre fruit seed and is also a good substitute for grains for people who are sensitive to protein gluten in wheat and rice.
In Sikkim, the plant grows wild and the flour is used to prepare an oil-free pancake or khuree and makes for a light lunch.
Put buckwheat flour in a large bowl. Slowly pour warm water into the flour, stirring constantly until you have a runny, dosa-like batter. Heat a flat girdle. Pour a large serving spoonful of batter on to the girdle and quickly spread it into a large round. When the pancake changes colour (in less than a minute), either turn it over if you have spread the batter too thick or lift it off the girdle.
GARADU: The healthy snack
Garadu or purple yam (Dioscorea alata) is available from October to March every year. The tubers can provide an alternative to potatoes and sweet potatoes during fasts. These can provide the much needed carbs during the fast. This can be eaten as a main dish for a meal or as a snack.
Wash the yams well to remove any soil or grit. Chop the yams with skin into chunks and place them in a deep vessel. Cover with water and boil for 15-20 minutes. The yams should be firm, not squishy.
Drain the water and let them cool. Carefully peel the outer skin, taking care not to damage the purple inner skin. Serve plain or with salt and condiments.
SINGHARA: Fast perfect
Nutrient-rich water chestnuts (Trapa natans) are succulent, slightly crunchy and delicately sweet and can be munched raw, seasoned or sautéed, and even ground to make flour. This last quality makes it useful during religious fasts. Puris made from the flour are popular part of the main meal during fasts.
Take the flour in a flat dish and add the grated, boiled potato. Knead well to prepare the dough. Add water if needed. The dough is ready to be rolled into puris and fried.
RAMDANA: Dessert without calories
In north India, the seed of the plant Amaranthus hybridus is known as ramdana (the lord’s grain) or chaulai. It grows abundantly in the Himalayan region.
The grain and leaves combine to provide a perfectly balanced, nutritious and cheap food. Ramdana is consumed as phalahar (permitted fruit diet) during fasts. This poor person’s staple is now a health food fad. Have a mildly sweet laddoo with your dinner.
Chaulai: 500 grams
Sugar: 250 gm
Cardamom (for flavor)
Roast the chaulai lightly. Prepare sugar syrup by dissolving sugar in water and boiling till the syrup is sticky. Add enough quantity of the syrup to the chaulai to be able to roll small balls. Give final touches to the laddoo by rolling them on powdered cardamom. Honey could also be used to sweeten the laddoos. Place the balls to dry on a lightly greased plate.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.