If the word 'fast' makes you run miles away. If the idea of being away from food for the whole day. gives you panic attacks; then surely you got to read further. Since I too was like you, years back.
Until the food lover in me tasted the amazing "vrat ka khana". And please don't translate it to 'fast food' as in junk food, but the special dishes prepared specially for the fasts. Surely this blessing comes in a disguise.
Two days back, Shivratri was celebrated all across the country with great joy and respect. Shivratri or Maha Shivratri literally means 'night of Lord Shiva' and is celebrated by a night long of prayers and a day of fasting. Also milk and bael and other fruits are offered to the God.
And we end this day long fast by preparing some simple yet very tasty dishes. I can very well remember the days when I used to keep fast in anticipation of getting to eat from the special food. While what you can eat during a fast differs from festival to festival, region, culture and personal beliefs, yet there are few regular dishes.
At my home sabudana or sago, potato, kuttu ka atta and fruits make their appearance at almost all fasts in various forms like sabudana ki khichdi/tikki/kheer, kuttu ke atta ki puri/pakode and aloo chaat/tikki/kheer. So yes its more of feasting than fasting.
One of my favourites out of these (if I can at all choose) is sabudana khichdi or upma or poha as some people call it. It's the only dish from the list that I prepare out of turn, as in without any fast or festivity too. Since its perfect for breakfast or evening snack..great to pack as well.
Sago is a starch extracted from the pith of tropical trees and is produced in pearl like forms. The only deal breaker in cooking with sago is to rehydrate it well enough. If soaked little less, it will not cook properly and if little too much, it will get sticky. Though I got to admit that I like it that way and to add the crunch factor with crisp potatoes and roasted peanut powder. I also like to add a bit of extra flavour by adding a bit of coriander chutney to it. And that makes this simple dish so very tasty.
Sabudana Khichdi/Upma/Poha/Pilaf Recipe
1/2 cup sago/sabudana
1 small potato, chopped
1 tbsp roasted peanuts
1-2 tbsp chopped tomato
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 curry leaves
1 green chilly, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped coriander
Salt and black pepper as per taste
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp fresh coriander-coconut chutney (optional)
Grated coconut/ chopped coriander for garnishing
- Wash the sago pearls in running water. Then soak it in 1/3 cup water and leave it for 3-4 hours. The pearls will absorb the water. Now with a fork very lightly, fluff it up, so that the pearls fluff up.
- Grind the roasted peanuts to powder. Keep aside. Prepare the chutney (if using) as per the recipe given below.
- Heat oil in a wok and fry the potatoes, till crisp and golden. Keep aside. In the same wok, add curry leaves and cumin seeds and let it splutter. Now add the chopped green chillies and tomatoes. Let it cook for a minute or so.
- Now add the sago pearls. And let it cook for 3-4 minutes. Add fried potatoes, peanut powder, coriander chutney, salt and pepper. Mix it all well.
- Serve hot, garnished with chopped coriander or coconut or slice of lemon.
The other very popular and loved sago dish at our home, and guess for everyone who has tasted it is - sabudana tikki. Absolutely addictive. But since its a deep fried dish, we try to reward ourself only after a fast. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't prepare it for an evening snack. But be ready to get addicted to it!
Sabudana Tikki Recipe
Deep fried cutlet/tikki of sago and mashed potatoes.
1/2 cup sago pearls (Washed and soaked in 1/3 cup water for 3-4 hours)
1 cup boiled and mashed potatoes
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1 tbsp roasted peanut powder
Salt & pepper
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp kuttu ka atta (optional.See note)
Oil for deep frying
- Mix all the ingredients in bowl and make small patties of it.
- Heat oil in a wok. Check if the oil is hot enough by dropping a small pinch of the mixture. If it comes to the top immediately, oil is ready.
- Deep fry on medium high heat till golden and crisp. Drain well on tissues, to absorb extra oil.
- Serve hot with coriander chutney.
Since my son was not fasting, I also made some puri - aloo and rice kheer for him (which of course I relished the next day). And together with sago khichdi and tikki, it was really a nice feast.
Having a green chutney in the fridge is a must in our homes. Since it easily peps up the meal. And is so versatile too. You can simply spread it on a slice of bread for sandwich, pitta bread, serve as dip for pakodas and other snacks or even mix it with roasted potatoes for dry curry. Or simply sneak a bit of it, in poha or pilaf to flavor it up.
Coriander Coconut chutney recipe
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves (washed and drained well)
2 tbsp grated coconut
1 tsp lemon juice
1-2 green chilly, chopped (as per taste)
1/2 tbsp chopped ginger
Salt and black pepper
Grind it all together to a fine paste. You can adjust consistency by adding curd or water.
The addition of lemon juice helps in retaining the lovely green color of the chutney. I sometimes skip the tomato to increase shelf life. Adjust the ratio of ingredients as per liking. Increasing the coconut will lend the chutney, perfect with dosa and idlis.
- If preparing for fast, use the sendha namak, than the regular salt in both the recipes.
- All three recipes are for fast. But if preparing otherwise, you can add other spices as well. Like garlic, coriander powder and red chilly powder to the chutney. Similarly you can add coriander powder, red chilly powder and chaat masala to the tikkis.
- And instead of kuttu ka atta, which works as binding agent, you can use bread crumbs for other occasions. But even if you skip both, mashed potatoes itself works great for binding.
I'm sure now you too will look forward to the fasts!!