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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Foods for the Festive Season

[My guest post for 27coupons. Link here]

The Navratris have started and the Dusshera festivities have kicked off. With most of the shopping malls, Mom & Pop shops and e-commerce sites having fabulous discounts and deals going on, this is just the time to revamp your home and wardrobe. Check out the awesome coupons for your favorite sites here.
Justifying the ‘Incredible India’ tagline floated by the Ministry of Tourism, the festival which is celebrated in almost every corner of the country is observed in unique ways in different parts of the country. Be it the elaborate Pandals and light decorations of West Bengal/Odisha or the scintillating Dandiya/Ras garbha performances of Gujarat, each region has its own way of ushering in the Goddess. The Mysore Dusshera with its royal mustering and a grand elephant led procession are in no way less captivating than the grandiose Ramlila ( depiction of scenes from the life of Lord Rama and the final burning of the effigies of Ravan, Kumbhkaran and Meghnad ) of North India.

Lesser known but equally beautiful are the Golu dolls ( also known as Bommai Kolu or Bommala Koluvu or Bombe Habba) of South India. These wooden or porcelain dolls are used to depict the stories from the epics. While the more traditional ones stick to dolls of deities and demons, the contemporary artists also create dolls depicting musicians, couples dressed in traditional clothes, farm scenes, lavish weddings, cricket matches, etc. However, the God of wealth, Kubera is a must have of all such displays. Unlike the more public festivities in other parts of India, Gola dolls are more of a family tradition. Some of the dolls displayed in such households have been handed down through generations and every year a few new ones are also added to their collection. ( For more details, click here)
Whether it is Lord Rama vanquishing Ravana or Goddess Durga slaying the demon Mahisasura, the festival symbolizes the victory of good over evil. But at the same time it is also the season which sends all foodies into a tizzy. Food stalls invariably pop up at every small and big celebration venue and become a major draw for people ( who obviously discount the hygiene factor ). Even the vrat ka khana or sweets which are laden with ghee and dry fruits, are enough for most folks to break all diet resolutions. In fact, lot of folks try to work out and lose weight in the first three quarters of the year only to gain it back in the last quarter (most of the major festivals/weddings happen around this time). Here are some popular Navratri recipes –
1. Sabudana Vada – Sabudana is rich in carbs which gives an instant energy boost. Quick to prepare and good to eat, it keeps one full for hours. This one is made with soaked sabudana (sago) and mashed potatoes dumplings deep fried in oil.
2. Sabudana Khichdi - It consists of almost the same ingredients as the sabudana vada but is lower in calories. Equally yummy.
3. Shakarkand ki subzi – A tangy preparation of sweet potatoes, this one is light on the stomach and easy on the palate.
4. Shakarkand ka halwa – Made with mashed sweet potatoes, milk and ghee, it is simple yet filling. One can skip/reduce the quantity of ghee used without compromising on taste.
5. Fruit Kebabas/Fruit Chaat – Low in calories but quite yummy. They are easy to make and nutritious too.
6. Kuttu ka dosa/Kutta ki puri – Kuttu or buckwheat is a popular choice among most folks who observe a strict fast (cereals being forbidden) during the Navratris. Being high on fiber and proteins, it is a good choice for folks who eat only one meal per day (after sunset). Also, it is gluten-free.
7.Rajgire ki Puri/paratha/thepla – Another popular item on the menu for those on a no-cereals diet. This one also happens to be gluten free.
8. Gajar ka halwa – It is hard to find a soul who can resist this deliciously fudgy and decadent dessert. For calorie conscious folks, try the Microwave version or the gajar ka kheer.
9. Raita – A cooling raita is a must when gorging on festive food. The good bacteria in the yogurt helps in digestion. Try the staple potato/cucumber/boondi ones or get adventurous with Singharas, sweet potatoes or even a fruit raita .
10. Makhane ki kheer – A light kheer made with puffed lotus seeds and nuts, it is easy to digest. For those for prefer the savory, makhana or fox nuts can also be cooked with paneer or green peas in a nuts based gravy.
11. Sundal - Made with boiled and lightly tempered pulses, this one is as healthy as it can get. No wonder, most South Indian folks swear by it.

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