Why do we eat kuttu or singhada flour during Navratri?
Created by Dr Reetika Inderjeet Juneja Updated on Sep 17, 2017
Celebrating the reverence of nine distinctive avatars of Goddess Durga, Navratri is a time of abstinence from grains, onions, and garlic for nine days and worshipping the nine divine avatars of Goddess Durga. The festival is one of the most cherished festivals of Hindus and celebrated twice a year. But what is Navratri, what is the significance of fasting during the festival and what are pseudo grains that are consumed in these nine days.
What Is Navratri?
Navratri or Navratra as it is known, literally means "nine nights." The festival is celebrated twice a year in the honour of nine avatars of Goddess Durga, once in the beginning of summer known as Chaitra Navratra and again at the onset of winter known as Shardiya Navratra.
What Is The Significance Of Fasting During Navaratri?
The main significance of fasting during Navaratriis to seek the divine blessings of Goddess Durga by abstaining from high energy foods and common salt. It is believed that if the devotees abstain from food and worship all the nine avatars of the goddess they will be blessed with peace, prosperity and harmony in their lives.
Navaratri fasting rules varies little from community to community. During this time, grains and cereals are worshipped in the form of grass and eating them is avoided. People observing fasts replace their regular meals of wheat and rice with alternative cereals also known as pseudo grains, such as buckwheat, chestnut, sago, amaranth and a special variety of rice, known as samak rice (Barnyard millet).
So what are pseudo grains and how are they beneficial during Navratri?
What Are Pseudo Grains Or Pseudo Cereals?
Pseudo grains or pseudo cereals are basically seeds from the broad-leaf plants and are not grasses. While true cereals are grasses. Pseudo cereals are called so because the seeds of these grains can be grounded and used as cereals. Amarnath, buckwheat and chia are some of the pseudo cereals.
Amarnath, chestnuts (singhara) and samak are seeds of fruits and not real cereals, getting the name of pseudo cereals. In fact, a study called "Nutritive value of pseudo cereals and their increasing use as functional gluten free ingredients" published in the Journal Trends in Food Science & Technology 21 (2010), concluded that a variety of gluten-free whole grains such as amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat include high quality protein and abundant quantities of fibre and minerals such as calcium and iron. Moreover, they are also a source of many bioactive compounds with health-promoting effects such as phytosterols, polyphenols, saponins and squalene.
Why Do We Eat Kuttu Or Singhada Flour During Navaratri?
Kuttu (or Buckwheat as it is known in English) or Singhada (Water chestnuts) flours made from the seeds of the fruits and hence are not true cereals. These pseudo cereals provide a complete and satisfactory meal while fasting during the auspicious nine days. Let’s see how these pseudo grains are beneficial for our health to include them in our diet during Navaratri.
- Buckwheat chapattis, poories or pakoras are very popular during Navratri owing to its nutty flavour. It also tastes delicious as a hot cereal
- Buckwheat is high in good quality protein, magnesium, vitamin B6, dietary fibre, iron, niacin (vitamin B3), thiamine (vitamin B1) and zinc
- In particular, dietary fiber content is significantly higher in buckwheat seeds in comparison with amaranth and quinoa, which have fiber levels comparable to those found in common cereals
Water Chestnut (Singhada)
- It is a highly nutritive fruit, which is a good source of carbohydrates, calcium, phosphate, iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, sodium and potassium
- The benefits of water chestnut flour can be enjoyed in the form of chapattis or pancakes
- Sabudana comprises of small balls of starch prepared from the inner trunk of palm trees
- It can be consumed as it is or in ground form
- Sago has thickening properties which makes it suitable for thickening soups, sauces, stews, puddings, snack food, or desserts
- It is predominantly carbohydrate with very little protein, vitamins, minerals and fat baked in breads, pancakes or biscuits
Samak Rice (Barnyard Millets)
- Samak is a seed and not grain
- It is high on calcium, potassium, phosphorus and amino acids except lysine
- It is usually eaten with hull, which retains majority of its nutrients
- Samak rice can used to make kheer, khichdi, idli or dhokla
- This pseudo grain has a corn-like aroma and woody flavour which makes it suitable for breakfast cereal and porridge-like dishes
- It can also be ground into flour, which, in turn can be used to make breads, chapattis or parathas. The flour is usually ground along with its hull, which helps retain most of its nutrients
- Protein content in amaranth and quinoa is generally higher than in common cereals such as wheat; and is usually highest in amaranth followed by quinoa and buckwheat. It is also high in dietary fibre, iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium and B-vitamins
Can We Have These Pseudo Grains Regularly?
While these pseudo grains are packed with essential nutrients, the answer to the above-mentioned question is 'No'. It is so because, all these pseudo grains take fairly long time in getting digested by our body and even then some of it remains undigested and passes through our system as it is. Resulting in a misbalance of good and bad bacteria.
| Sep 20, 2017
very informative. Didn't knew all this earlier.
| Sep 19, 2017
Thanks Kavita Kumar and puloma pandey
| Sep 18, 2017
Very helpful bolg as navratra is around its great help. Well elaborated with nutritious values.
| Sep 18, 2017
| Sep 17, 2017
Thanks for liking it Shikha Batra ....
| Sep 17, 2017
thanks so much Dr Reetika Inderjeet Juneja for this comprehensive blog, with details on each and every ingredient that is used during Navratra fasting.. if fasts are done in the right way, it detoxifies one's body and cleanses one's mind and soul. thanks again for sharing it!