Why should Gods have all the fun? With Ram Navami celebrated with such fervor in certain pockets of India, Anupama Chandra writes about some uncommon yet simple recipes for you to relish.
The ninth and ultimate day of the auspicious Chaitra Navaratri unfailingly culminates in the birth anniversary of Lord Ram, the Purushuttam avatar of Vishnu, in the Hindu calendar. With some devotees fasting through the entire course of the day, bhajans and recitations from the Ramayan and the Ramacharitamanas are commonplace everywhere. After holding special prayers at noon when Ram was supposed to have been born, a decorated cradle in which an image of infant Rama is placed and rocked tenderly by the faithful.
In North India, where the occasion is also called Ram Navratri, places with a purported connection to the divine figure such as his birth place of Ayodhya and Sitamarhi (the birth place of Sita) see special arrangements. The pious in Ayodhya make it a point to take a dip in the sacred Sarayu and follow it up by organising Rath Yatras with idols of Ram, Sita, Laxman and Hanuman, and its grandeur is on the lines of the Jagannath Rath Yatras in Puri. It is a little known fact that Ram Navami is the day when preparations begin for the famous Jagannath Ratha Yatra in Odisha.
The Janki Mandir in Sitamarhi is famous for celebrating the day with a host of tourists in attendance and an annual fair. The puja organised in the Bhadrachalam temple in Andhra Pradesh is unique in that the priests celebrate the marriage of Ram to Sita on that day, in the midst of what they refer to as the Vasanthothsava.
All Indian festivals are made complete with a tender balance between fasting and feeding on dishes marked specifically for that occasion and Ram Navami is no different. While many sweets are the order of the day, in the South, a sweet drink called Panakam /Panagam, which means sweet drink in Sanskrit, is ubiquitous to the Naivaidyam offered to the Lord that day. Sweetened with jaggery, spiked with ginger, the drink soothes your soul and fortifies you to take on the increasingly warmer afternoons. The Neer Mor is another lovely drink offered to the god and then his devotees to a similar effect. And, of course, a special payasam.
On the other hand, the North and West with their nine-day long fasts, have many satvik dishes on offer. Here are some of these easy, healthy recipes for you to try out in the kitchen and relish during Ram Navami or even afterwards.
For all you bachelors and bachelorettes out there, these recipes are so simple that you can prepare them after a tiring day at office also.
Jai Shri Ram!
Recipes from the South
Jaggery (powdered) – ¼ cup
Green Cardamom (crushed) – 2
Dry ginger powder – a small piece
Peppercorns (crushed) – ½ tsp
Lemon – ½
Chilled water – 4 glasses
- Add the powdered jaggery to the chilled water and let it dissolve for half an hour.
- Stir the mixture and add the cardamom, ginger and peppercorn powder, and lemon juice.
- Stir well and serve
Curd – 1 cup
Water – 3 cups
Hing – a pinch
Green chilli (chopped) – ½ tsp
Ginger (grated) – ½ tsp
- In a wide bowl, add curd and water, and beat well to make a runny buttermilk.
- Add the ginger, chilly, and coriander leaves, to the buttermilk.
- Stir in a pinch of hing and salt.
- Stir well and serve.
Pasi Paruppu Payassam
Milk – 2 ¼ cup
Moong dal – 1/3 cup
Channa dal – 2 tbsp (optional)
Jaggery – ¾ cup
Coconut (Grated) -1/4 cup
Rice flour – 2 tsp
Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
Cashew nuts – 6
- Dissolve jaggery in some water to make a syrup. Then clear any impurities.
- Meanwhile, heat a tsp of ghee in a thick-bottomed pan and fry cashew nuts. Keep aside.
- After removing the cashew nuts from the heat, roast both the dals till a nice aroma is emitted.
- Take the pan off the stove and wash the roasted dal and drain the water.
- Adding fresh water to the dal, cook in a pressure cooker for 4 whistles, and then mash and keep aside.
- Mix the grated coconut and rice flour together lightly, and keep aside.
- Then, mix the mashed dal, coconut mixture, cardamom powder to the jaggery syrup on a low flame, and let cook. Let cool to room temperature.
- In another heavy-bottomed pan, boil the milk on medium flame until it thickens while stirring constantly.
- Add this hot milk to the cool jaggery syrup and simmer for 2 minutes while adding the fried cashew nuts. Serve the delicious payasam.
Recipes from the North
Singhare Ki Poori
Boiled potato (peeled) – 1
Oil – 2 tbsp + for frying
Singhare ka atta – 2 cups
Rock salt to taste
Green chilli (chopped) – 1 tsp
Jeera powder – 1 tbsp
Water – 1/4 cup
- Grate the boiled potato in a mixing bowl and add the singhare ka atta, rock salt, chopped green chilli, a tablespoon of oil and jeera powder to it.
- Mix well and add water little by little only to be able to knead it into a firm dough.
- Divide the dough into equal portions and roll these into small balls, while heating oil in a pan for frying.
- Grease the rolling pin with oil before rolling the dough balls into flat pooris.
- Add the pooris one by one to fry. Remove them from the oil and serve hot.
Vrat wale aloo
Potatoes (chopped) – ½ kg
Ghee – 1/4 Cup
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Ginger (shredded) – 1 tbsp
Yoghurt – 1/2 cup
Ginger powder – 1/2 tsp
Rock salt – 2 tsp
Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
- Heat the ghee, add cumin seeds, wait till they splutter before adding the yogurt and frying till the ghee separates.
- Add ginger powder, rock salt and chilli powder to the mix and stir.
- Then add the potatoes and turn up the heat to high till they begin to fry and add 2 cups of water and bring to boil.
- Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or till tender.
- Serve hot with the singhare ki pooris.
Makhane Ki Kheer
Makhana – 1 cup
Whole cashew nuts – 4-5
Full cream milk – 1/2 litre
Sugar – 3 tbsp
Raisins – 5-6
Cardamom powder – a pinch
Chopped almonds and cashew nuts – for garnishing
- Dry roast the makhana with the whole cashew nuts in a heated pan till they turn light brown.
- Keep aside a quarter of the roasted makhana while grinding the rest of the makhana and cashew nuts.
- Boil the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan while stirring continuously to prevent it from burning until it reduces by half.
- Add the powdered mixture, the whole makhana, raisins, cardamom powder and sugar to the milk and mix well.
- Garnish it with chopped almonds and serve.