In South India, fasts strictly mean virtually no food except Phala-haaram which literally means a fruits-only diet. In my home, I have seen people have only bananas and milk. However, in many parts of Western India, Potato, Sweet Potato, Sabudana, Peanuts etc. are allowed as fasting foods. This has given rise to an entire genre of cuisine called Vrat ka Khana or Upwas ka Khana.
Another popular “fasting” dish that I have found on many a menu in traditional Maharahstrian eateries is Farali Misal. This is a delicious, easy-to-make, spicy potato-peanut based stew topped with some crunchy sweetish farali potato chivda.
The Farali Misal is quite unlike the traditional Kolhapuri Misal so let not the name fool you. 🙂
Time: 45 Minutes
Potatoes – 3 Large
Roasted Peanuts – 1 Cup
Green Chillies – 4 to 6
Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
Farali Batata Chivda or Potato Chivda or Batata Salli – 1 Cup
Ghee – 1 tbsp (Vegans can use oil)
Saindha Namak or Regular Salt to Taste
Preparing the Potatoes
Boil the potatoes.
Peel and crush into pieces.
Grind 1/2 cup peanuts into a coarse powder.
Chop the green chillies into small pieces.
In a kadai, heat the ghee.
Add the cumin seeds and green chilli pieces.
Stir-fry for a few seconds till the cumin seeds just start to change colour.
Add the crushed boiled potato and mix well.
Stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the peanut powder, crushed peanuts and salt.
Add about 2 cups of water or enough to cover the potatoes.
Simmer till the gravy thickens.
Turn off the heat.
Ensure that the potato-peanut curry is warm.
Divide the potato-peanut curry into four equal portions.
Top each portion with 1/4 cup of Farali Batata Chivda (potato chivda).
You could use ginger-green chilli paste instead of just chopped green chillies.
You could add more body to this Farali Misal by using Sabudana Khichadi as the base. In such a case, first add Sabudana Khichadi to the bowl, then the potato-peanut curry and finally the chivda.
If you are using Sabudana Khichadi as a base, make sure it uses no rai or mustard seeds (these are a no-no on fasting days). You may also want to reduce the amount of peanuts in the Khichadi as the potato curry has lots of it.
We Indians tend to fast for religious reasons on various auspicious days through the year. One of these is Ekadashi, the 11th day of the waxing or the waning moon. On Ekadashi, ideally Hindus have only fruits, vegetables and milk, and avoid all kinds of grains and beans. In Maharashtra, popular fasting foods include potatoes, Sabudana Khichadi, and Sabudana Vada. Another popular combination is Varayche Tandul or Bhagar (Barnyard Millet) and Danyachi Amti (aka Shengdanyachi Amti), a peanut-based gravy.
I am posting this recipe because tomorrow is Ashadi Ekadashi (aka Dev Shayani Ekadashi), a day that signals the start of the Chaturmasya (the 4-month auspicious period that is particularly important to Lord Vishnu). All the major festivals such as Krishnashtami, Vijaya Dashami, and Diwali fall in this period.
In Maharashtra, Ashadi Ekadashi signals the end of the Pandharpur Waari or Pandharpur Yatra which begins 21 days earlier. Pandharpur is the home of Lord Vitthal (fondly known as Vithoba in Maharashtra). Devotees of Lord Vitthal (also known as Warkaris or those who undertake the Waari) walk from Dehu to Pandharpur and the Waari culminates at Pandharpur on Ashadi Ekadashi. This waari was initiated and propogated by two famous poet-saints of Maharashtra, Sant Tukaram and Sant Dnyaneshwar, who were famous for their role in the bhakti movement.
Sant Dnyaneshwar is famous for Dnyaneshwari, a commentary of the Bhagwat Geeta that sought to bring the message enshrined in the Sanskrit text to the common man via the local language Marathi.
Sant Tukaram, a devotee of Lord Vitthal, is famous for propagating devotion through his Abhangs (a form of devotional poetry devoted to Lord Vitthal).
Another lovely aspect of Ashadi Ekadashi is the concerts that focus on Abhangs. This year too I will be attending one such concert in Mumbai and I am so looking forward to it.
Do you want to listen to an Abhang? Here are two from two stalwarts.
My sister-in-law, Bhavna, fasts all 9 days of Navaratri. She eats only once a day and that too food that does not involve any grain (dhaan). And she does not like Sabudana, so stuff like Sabudana Khichadi or Sabudana Wada are out.
What she prefers is roti or puri made with Rajgira Atta (Amaranth Flour) or Shinghada Atta (Water Chestnut Flour). This is the recipe for Shinghade ki Puri (or Shingare ki Puri).
Makes: 6 Small Puris
Shinghada Atta – 1 Cup
Potato – 1 Small
Red Chilli Powder – 1/4 tsp
Sendha Namak or Rock Salt – To Taste
Oil for Deep Frying
Water for Kneading the Dough
Boil the potato.
Peel and mash the potato to a smooth paste consistency.
Mix together the potato, red chilli powder, sendha namak, and shinghada atta.
Add 1 tbsp oil and mix well.
Add water as required and knead into a firm dough.
Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 15 minutes.
Divide the dough into 6 equal portions.
Roll each portion into a small puri about 2.5″ in diameter.
In a wok or kadhai, heat about 1 cup oil.
Fry each puri till it is golden brown.
Serve hot with aloo ki sabzi, paneer ki sabzi, or dahiwale arbi.
Ensure that the dough is firm or the puris will absorb a lot of oil.
In Maharashtra, Sabudana Khichadi is a favourite fasting food. I guess the carb kick it provides (sabudana + potato) is a great to assuage hunger pangs. While I do not eat it on the days I fast, I often like to have Sabudana Khichadi for breakfast on other days. There is something about this simple dish that not only satisfies hunger but also gives me a feeling of well-being. 🙂