Food is an incredibly important part of any festival. And Navratri is majorly about giving your body a minor break from heavy digesting foods and help you detox. Also, it is an excellent time when you can work on healing your mental, physical and spiritual health. Alcohol and non-vegetarian foods are a big no, besides onion, garlic, and some particular grains. Many vegetables are also off the list, and fruits become a central part of the fasting diet. Because a healthy diet is a faster way to achieve optimum health, vrat ka khana or fasting foods play an important role in getting such results. And as we move forward with our Navratri exclusive recipes, this post is about creating a healthy and delicious Navratri thali.
Thali refers to a round platter in which you eat food. In the Indian subcontinent, thali relates to a complete meal that consists of a variety of food items. There are many kinds of thali within Indian Cuisine such as Rajasthani thali, Gujarati thali, North Indian thali, South Indian thali, Maharashtrian thali, and many more. There are sides such as soup, salad, papad, chutneys, and pickles. Also, there are Indian style curries and vegetables, along with Indian flatbread or rice. Dessert is an essential aspect of it. Overall, thali means a complete balanced meal in itself.
See some interesting thali compositions here. You will love the idea of including so much variety and relishing small quantities of food in one quality meal. Also, read my blogpost on Indian Meals-A Complete Balanced Diet to see what are typical foods to include in an Indian thali.
Making Navratri Thali
Gone are the day when you had to stay home while Navratri fasting. From modern-day fine dining restaurants to local eating joints one can find fasting special dishes on almost every food menu, especially during Navratri time. There are Navratri unique starters, main course dishes, sides, beverages, and desserts. Most of the restaurants that serve fasting special food go wholly vegetarian, onion-garlic, and alcohol-free. There are many restaurants that serve Navratri Thali during the festive season. Gulati’s at Pandara Road is my particular favorite.
But if you are someone like me who has migrated out of Delhi or more so over, out of India, then you can’t find such a treat that easily. Anyway, moving on to my Navratri thali. My typical day to day meals is mostly Indian. And it mainly comprises of curry-based main course dish, sukhi sabzi or dry cooked veggie, rice, flatbreads, something yogurt-based like raita, chutneys or pickles, and dessert. However, when I have guests over, the spread becomes a bit more diverse.
But as of now, the meal serves only me. And I stayed classic yet straightforward! So for main course dish, I did Malai Kofta in cashew nut and magaz gravy, which I served along with buckwheat flatbreads and Samak rice. Sides included grated cucumber, coriander, and pomegranate salad, along with apple date chutney. For dessert, Sweet Potato Kheer was the show stopper and completed my idea of Navratri special thali.
I wrote this post in combination with my earlier above mentioned recipe posts, which is malai kofta and sweet potato kheer. I hope you enjoy this Navratri special thali. Season greetings to you and your beloved family. May Goddess Durga bless us all with love, wisdom, and excellent health! Jai Mata Di
Making Buckwheat flatbreads:
- In a bowl, add buckwheat flour and pour water little by little. (Use flour as per your need. A cup of buckwheat flour will yield about two medium-sized flatbreads.)
- Knead a dough out of it. Cover and keep aside for 10-15 minutes to let water seep into the flour fully.
- Take small ball sized dough and roll it flat using a rolling pin. Make sure to use dry flour on the working surface so the dough doesn’t get stick to the surface.
- Transfer the rolled dough onto a hot pan and keep turning it to cook on both the sides. Spread some ghee or coconut oil on the flatbread to give it better texture and taste.
- Alternatively, you can deep fry the flatbreads in ghee or coconut oil to make Buckwheat Puris.
Making Apple Date Chutney:
- Soak 2-4 Medjool dates in hot water for an hour or so. After they become soft, remove the seeds and cut them into halves.
- Peel and roughly chop two apples. Now in a hot pan, add a teaspoon of ghee and toss the chopped apples into it.
- Saute the apples for a few minutes. Then add rock salt or fasting special salt and black pepper powder, as per taste.
- Now add dates and pour some water.
- Cover with the lid and cook until apples become soft.
- Once cooked, remove the lid and let it cool down completely. You can either use this apple and date mixture as it is or coarsely blend it in a mixer. Or simply use a handheld blender to puree it into a chutney.
- In a bowl, grate cucumber and to it add freshly chopped coriander leaves. Also, add fruits like grapes and pomegranate to it.
- Squeeze in few drops of lemon and mix everything. Adding rock salt or black pepper powder is optional.
- You can also add chopped green chili for a little spice.
Making Samak Rice:
- Rinse half a cup of Samak rice under running water in a colander. Then transfer the rinsed rice to a cooking pot.
- Add water just enough to submerge the rice.
- Boil the rice until all the moisture soaks up.
- Once cooked, add chopped coriander leaves to it or serve plain.
- You can use Water Chestnut flour instead of Buckwheat flour (kuttu ka atta) or use the two flour in combination. If using water chestnut flour or singhare ka atta, then make sure to add little water while kneading the dough. Also, use enough dry flour while rolling it out. This particular flour tends to stick a lot to the rolling surface.
- There are many fruits and veggies that one cannot consume while Navratri fasting. To know, what all you can and can’t eat during Navratri, read this article.