Maha Shivratri is a Hindu festival celebrated every year in late winter (or Phalguna season according to the North Indian Hindu Calendar) to honour Lord Shiva. This festival is marked as a remembrance of "overcoming darkness and ignorance" in life and devotees observe fasting by avoiding cereals, lentils, onion, garlic, turmeric, table salt and grains. The devotees chose to fast or keep a "vrat" completely throughout the day or have only one meal which is easier to digest. This day is also considered good for meditation, self-introspection and charity.
Every family and culture follows different diet during fasting, but majorly the ingredients used for cooking include sabudana, amaranth, kuttu, sama ke chawal, a lot of fruits, vegetables like potato, arbi, lauki, kaddu and rock salt for flavouring. Here's a list of easy recipes you can make for your Maha Shivratri fast this year.
1. Fruit Chaat
"Phallar" meal, phal meaning fruits in Hindi and Sanskrit, forms an integral part of any fasting in India. You can eat raw, uncut fruits; or thinly cut them and make a fruit chaat with sugar, lemon juice, rock salt and chaat masala. Try eating seasonal fresh fruits like oranges, apple, guava, grapes, banana and pear. To add more nutrition, you can add nuts and dry fruits like almonds, cashews, raisins and pistachios.
2. Sabudana Khichdi
Sabudana, also known as sago, is an edible starch extracted from the pith/fleshy interior of the tropical cassava trees. Not only is sabudana a staple during fasting, it also comes with enormous health benefits. It provides ample energy, is gluten-free, keeps blood sugar level in check, contains amino acids, prevents hair fall and contains natural calcium which restores bone density. You can shop Cumin seeds and sendha namak (rock salt) at Tassyam.com.
3. Rajgira Poori
Just like rock salt is used in place of usual table salt during fasting, the best alternative for wheat or refined wheat flour is either Rajgira (Amaranth) flour or Kuttu (Buckwheat) flour. Both of them are gluten free and highly nutritious. Amaranth is rich in proteins, fiber, anti-oxidants and micronutrients. Amaranth can reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, aid in weight loss and can be used in a variety of ways in your daily diet. For Shiv Ratri, you can make rajgira poori to complement your meal(s).
Thandai is a flavoured drink made using milk, saffron, dry fruits and saffron. While there are many thandai premixes available in the market, you can easily make this drink from scratch at home. Bonus points, it is super healthy. You can make your thandai using cardamom powder, almonds, cashewnuts, black peppercorn, fennel seeds and cinnamon powder from Tassyam.com.
Even though you are fasting, who said you cannot have desserts? You can make kheer on Shiv Ratri using rice, lauki, makhana, samak ke chawal, sabudana or amaranth seeds (cholai).
6. Sama ke Chawal Pulao
Samak/Sama/Samvat/Samo/Barnyard Millet- call it by any name, but this gluten-free grain is going to be your perfect substitute of rice to make pulao on this festival. Samak rice or Barnyard millet is low on calories, an excellent source of dietary fiber, has a low glycemic index and is a good source of iron.