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Chefs keep up the revelry, offer Navaratra goodies

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PUNE: The nine-day fast during Navaratra can no longer be equated to hours spent in the kitchen, meticulously planning upwas fare. Numerous chefs from the city have taken it upon themselves to lighten the load and serve sumptuous delicacies, no longer limiting satvik meals to one’s own kitchen.
Be it the traditional upwas menu of Sabudana Khichadi or Wada, or dishes with a contemporary twist like Sweet Potato Foam Icicle and Beetroot and Avocado Tartare Salad, chefs are unleashing their creativity to woo people who want to fast as well as feast. While hordes are stepping out to relish these special meals, many are looking at home deliveries, prompting online delivery portals to create special collections in their listings.

Speaking with TOI, owner of Bavdhan-based Tasty Tongues Shevali Mathur said, “The demand for upwas fare has seen an upward trend for the last two years and people are ready to travel distances for satvik food at restaurants. Our Navaratra Upwas Thali is elaborate. We strictly use rock salt or sendha namak for all our preparations, as preferred by those who are fasting.”

The chef at Khandani Rajdhani, located at Amanora Mall, is serving patrons a traditional Vrat Thali using authentic recipes. “Classics like Fruit Shrikhand, Sabudana Wada and Rajgira Puri will be served with special preparations like Farali Patice, Kuttu Puri, Kele Ki Sabzi, Paneer Vatana and Shakarkandi Halwa,” said Maharaj Jodharam Choudhary, corporate chef for the restaurant chain.

He further shared that earlier people preferred to end their fast at home but that is not the case anymore. “Over time, people’s preferences have changed to eating out. At Rajdhani, during this festival we have observed that 30% of the total visitors prefer a Vrath Thali. This wasn’t the case earlier.”

With the Navbhog Festive Special Menu, chefs at Zeera by Conrad have curated an assortment of fresh vegetables and fruits. The special menu includes dishes like Almond Milk Soup, Banana and Sesame Gallets, Smoked Coconut Water, Black Quinoa and Sabudana Risotto with Toasted Nuts and Romanesco Musallam. For desserts, there is Pumpkin Halwa Icecream.

Catering for get-togethers during Navaratra has enabled Aparna Apte Karandikar of Apps Cooking Cottage to whip up healthy, nutritious upwas dishes. “I am offering dishes like Danyachi Amti, Rajgira Roti, Ratala Kheer, Kacche Kele Kofte, and much more. We try to combine various ingredients in our dishes to offer the right nutritional qualities to the meal,” she explained.

Speaking about the response to Navaratra specials, Srivats TS, vice-president, marketing, Swiggy said, “This Navaratra, Swiggy is witnessing a significant shift in demand in Pune towards items made of Sabudana, a common ingredient in the Satvik diet followed by many during this period. Considering the rise in demand for fasting related food items, we have created a collection of restaurants calling out ‘Navratri Specials’, making it easier for users to discover and order Navaratra related dishes on the platform.”

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