Vratha Thali | 'Fasting' Thali

The  Indian thali not only restrict itself to festivities and everyday foods. There are thali's that are prepared during religious functions and fasts.Today, I am presenting to you one of the thali's that are prepared for the fasting period / Vratha.

Fasting is a natural healing therapy.It is done for religious/ spiritual reasons as well as for health reasons.These days many fast in the name of different diets are observed,thus abstaining from different food stuffs.

According to Ayurveda, fasting helps eliminate the toxins that accumulate in our body over a period of time. During fasting, the digestive system is given rest and the body mechanism gets corrected / healed and the toxins get eliminated.

In earlier days, our ancestor's observed fasts on specific days of the months and even certain types of fasts for a specified period of the year.

The Hindu philosophy and religion is a combination of several traditions. Nature plays an important role in formulating the festivals, occasions and rituals.When the guidelines for fasting were formulated, it was in tune with Mother nature.

They formulated what is called the 'Chatur maasa Vratha'[/Chatur Maasya Vratha] . In simpler terms, it is can be explained as - Chathur - Four , Maasa - Month, Vratha - observance of fast. Chatur maasa  is the auspicious four month period which occurs every year. It coincides with the monsoon season when the festivities begin. It is roughly around Mid July to Mid November.

The vrathas / fasts are of 4 types during this time. They are as follows...

During each of these periods,there are certain guidelines to be followed when it comes to cooking and consuming food stuffs.

The purpose of these fasts during the Chathur maasa is to  gain control over our senses and purify the mind and the body.Fasting is done during this time as a preventive medicine! As said earlier , this period coincides with the monsoons and at that time our digestive powers are not at its best. The green leafy vegetables may rot due to excessive dampness. The vegetables may not grow properly due to lack of sun light. The water will be contaminated. Hence when the fast is observed, it kind of counteracts the unhealthy conditions and helps maintain a healthy body.

In those days there were no refrigerators or other methods to prolong the life of fruits/ vegetables and greens. Also their living conditions were not as luxurious as we are today, hence these type of fasts,where certain foods are restricted during specific period of the year helped maintain their body.

The Saaka Vratha is the first of the four and in this, the following foods are prohibited ,both as an offering to God and to be consumed on daily basis...

As a rule , onion and garlic are omitted in all types of fasts.

The following foods can be used

When mom was discussing this with me I was really confused.How can one cook without vegetables/ fruits? Then she explained the different recipes that can be prepared for a healthy and hearty meal. This meal included usual sambar / majjige palidha / more kuzhambu , rasam/ saaru, dal stir fries / sweets and savories. Recipes are modified to omit / accommodate the restricted / allowed foods.

In those days these restrictions were strictly  followed. Even recently, that is almost until a decade ago, one of my relatives, an elderly couple used to follow these food restrictions and follow the fasting procedure. My grandparents follow this Saaka Vratha restriction on the day when they observe my great grand mother's ceremony even today. That is how I came to know about vratha. Mom still remembers the menu that used to be prepared and she explained to me when I was looking for a different type of thali menu for this blogging marathon.

In this post I am sharing with you a meal that can be prepared during this Saaka Vratha period....

Today's menu...

Ambode - Lentil fritters
Udhin hittu - Urad dal spice powder
Bele palya - Lentil stir fry

Majjige Palidha - Yogurt gravy with lentil dumpling
Saaru - Rasam

Mosaru - Curd

Hesar bele Payasa

As you would have noticed here, the dishes are predominantly lentil based. Mustard is not not used and instead cumin seeds alone are used for seasoning.Also the dishes are simple and easy to prepare.

Udhin Pudi is a spicemix prepared from Urad dal. Sesame seed is drizzled over hot steamed rice and the lentil mix is mixed with this rice and eaten.

Ambode / Ambade / paruppu vadai prepared from toor dal

Bele palya - Sinec vegetables are forbidden, stir fry is prepared with toor dal.

Kosambari is usually associated with lentil. Lentils are soaked and seasoned.Salt is added.This is mixed well,seasoned with mustard,curry leaves etc. But during the fast period mustard,chillies and other seasonings are not use. Instead of lentil kosambari I made it with pressed rice / aval / poha.

The meal tends to get very heavy and monotonous if all the items are prepared with lentils. So I made this gravy to be mixed with rice using yogurt. Plain yogurt gravy may not taste good with steamed rice , so fried lentil dumplings have been added to the gravy.

Saaru / rasam is prepared with toor dal and tomatoes. The regular spice mix for rasam is not used. Here the flavor is from the cumin-pepper powder. Also for the regular rasam, the seasoning is prepared with mustard, cumin seeds. As mustard is not used during this time ,only cumin seasoning is used.

For sweets, flavorings and colors are not used. I made this simple moong dal kheer using moong dal , milk and jaggery....

This one is the  same as that in the thali click. There I let the moong dal 'stand out' in the click so that it is not mistaken for toor dal sambar.Actually, this is the original texture of the khee. The dals are lighly mashed and then cooked with milk and jaggery. Check out the recipe here...

Hope you liked this thali. Tomorrow I have a thali that is very special to me. Do come back tomorrow for the reason and a very tempting thali...

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#15

This is off to Srivalli's Thali mela

Bon Appetit...

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