Food for festive thought; traditional feast with nutritional benefits- The New Indian Express

Express Message Service

Earlier in the month, with Delhi’s South Side Story music festival in full swing and crowds pounding to the throbbing music of popular bands, a much-celebrated tradition was being dished out in a more sane corner of the same venue – the classic Sadya. It can be overwhelming and yet very filling
At the same time, closing the leaf to itself signals a meal enjoyed.

Culinary Director and Executive Chef Suresh Pillai at The Raviz, Ashthamudi in Kollam says they have now introduced Sadya as a traditional Friday feast year-round. If you delve deeper, it is balanced and nutritious, like most traditional Indian celebratory dishes, where nothing is irrelevant on the celebratory plate, but carefully considered, purposeful and nourishing.

“Most of the items at Sadya are either boiled or steamed, and lots of seasonal and local vegetables go into it. Kerala red matta rice is rich in vitamins A and B, calcium, magnesium and antioxidants.” A fairly plant-based, gluten-free feast.

Bhopal-based clinical nutritionist Dr. Amita Singh further deconstructs Sadya’s compound nutritional and health benefits: “The parboiled rice contains carbohydrates and proteins for energy and strength. The rice is rich in vitamin D, which helps digest food. Along with legumes, legumes, and vegetables, it’s a complete meal. Buttermilk, a key ingredient in Sadya, has a high amino acid profile that helps repair body tissues, aids in digestion, and reduces acidity. The chutneys as part of the festive menu are rich in antioxidants. The food is cooked in coconut oil, a medium-chain triglyceride oil with antimicrobial and antifungal properties.”

The ongoing Shardiya Navratri, or nine days of fasting, is a precursor to celebrations drawing closer in different parts of India. But first, how does Navratri Fasting help? The greatest is the reduction of Pitt Prakop Awastha (excess heat in the body). “The heat causes hormonal, metabolic and neurological disorders. Fasting helps cool down the body, promotes cell regeneration, and detoxifies the body by ingesting fruit, buttermilk, or coconut water.

The celebratory eating of chana, poori and halvah in ghee on the Ashtami or eighth day serves a purpose. The ghee calms the dosha pitta (warmth) and vatta (air). Kala Chana (black chickpeas) energizes the body by providing iron, phosphate and calcium and other minerals that are beneficial for bones and hemoglobin,” explains Delhi-based Dr. Deepika Bhardwaj, CEO of Sanovide Ayurveda.

When a full meal is eaten as part of a fast, it includes items of singhara (water chestnut), sabudana (sago), kuttu (buckwheat), samak (millet), and makhana (foxtail nuts). “They’re all great sources of energy and help the body stay full longer,” explains Dr. singh.

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The innovation with the Navratri dishes nowadays tends to solve their essence. “The Navratri fasting principles help induce alkalinity in our diet and remove the inflammatory grain. For the most
Today, too much grain is a cause of chronic ailments,” says Delhi-based clinical nutritionist Dr. Lovneet Batra.

The recipes of traditional festive foods, the different combinations and the timing at which they should be eaten are also designed to nourish the body. Take, for example, tekhua, which is made from simple kitchen ingredients and is offered as a prasad (offering) during Chhatt Puja rituals. The women thus break their strict nirjal (no water) for 36 hours, because “the included ingredients such as ghee, wheat, coconut, jaggery and fennel seeds help with immediate post-fasting nutrition. Ghee and coconut act as direct fuel for the intestinal cells. After long hours of fasting, this combination prepares the body for food intake,” says Dr. Batra.

The change of seasons exacerbates allergies, restlessness and irritability. “Tekhua creates an imbalance in Pitta and Vatta, particularly in the pelvic muscles in women, and restores balance in the body,” says Dr. Bhardwaj. Fennel has estrogen which helps regulate the female reproductive cycle for fertility, reduce menopause symptoms and is also an excellent source of vitamin C for collagen synthesis in the skin. Jaggery warms the body, prevents blood disorders, treats urinary problems, stimulates metabolism and reduces water retention.

A traditional sweet delicacy such as Haldi Patra Pitha, an offering to Prathama Ashtami,
a festival celebrated in Odisha that honors the birth of the first child and signals the onset of winter is wrapped in turmeric leaves before being steamed to add flavor and nutrients. Any part of
The turmeric plant has medicinal properties due to the presence of curcuminoids and their antioxidant and antibacterial effects. It’s good for immunity and keeps the flu at bay.

While Til Laddoos rule during Makar Sankranti, the hero ingredient Til (sesame) finds its way
in various sweet and savory dishes. Til is an antioxidant rich in calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids and is great for fighting winter-related infections,” says Dr. singh. Til is also useful in regulating the thyroid gland
and prevent fatty liver.

Festive meals are not just an experience, but a carefully designed nourishing plate for body and soul.

The recipes of traditional festive foods, the different combinations and the timing at which they should be eaten are also designed to nourish the body

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