For Navratri is a time of fasting, and for many feasting as well. Think Aloo ki Sabji, Khatta Meetha Petha, Kuttu Parantha, and Sabudana Vada — feeling hungry already? But this isn’t all, for the Navratri thali in 2021 has also got croquettes and vegan desserts! Along with the packed food, one will also get a sanitiser sachet, as home chefs across Delhi-NCR are ensuring to put safety first while they experiment with newer innovations in Navratri menu.

Fruit cream pudding by home chef Shahla Ahmed.
Fruit cream pudding by home chef Shahla Ahmed.

“I’ve added Yam Kebabs (Arbi or Jimikand Kebabs) and Kathal Kebabs in the menu, this Navratri,” says Gurugram-based home chef Shahla Ahmed, adding, “The vrat thali I make is priced at ₹599, and has a paneer dish, Dahi Ke Aaloo, Millet Bhaakri, Samak ke Rice, Shakarkand ki kheer, and chhaunka hua Raita. In addition, I’m adding a vegan dessert — Fruit Cream Pudding made in cashew cream and coconut cream with zero sugar and only natural sweetness, or Black Rice Pudding.”

Shakarkandi chaat is a favourite for those fasting in Navratras.
Shakarkandi chaat is a favourite for those fasting in Navratras.
Shakarkandi chaat is a favourite for those fasting in Navratras.

There are options for the health conscious as well. Another Gurugram based home chef, Shradha Saraf, has added options in drinks and snacks such as Peanut Butter Banana Shake, Panner Banana Croquettes, and even some age old basics such as Fruit Chaat, baked Shakarkandi Chaat, and shallow fried Sabudana Vada. “Peanut Butter Banana shake is a healthy option, as the combination of homemade peanut butter banana and honey will make one feel filled, for a very long time,” says Saraf.

Assorted ladoos including Makhana Ladoo and Sabudana ladoo by home chef Ekta Jain.
Assorted ladoos including Makhana Ladoo and Sabudana ladoo by home chef Ekta Jain.
Assorted ladoos including Makhana Ladoo and Sabudana ladoo by home chef Ekta Jain.

For those who have a soft corner for Indian sweets, there’s Makhana Ladoo and Sabudana Ladoo, to savour during Navratri. “Makhanas are very rich in calcium. When combined with desi ghee and dry fruits, it’s a complete meal; and we don’t add any additives or preservatives,” says Delhi-based home chef Ekta Jain, adding, “These ladoos are popular during Navratri since they suffice the energy and nutritional requirements for those who are fasting and can’t eat grains.”

Wondering how these home chefs are managing hygiene standards during Covid-19? Answer is by taking utmost care while giving a finger-licking twist to regular foods! “To ensure safety in Covid times, we will be providing a double layer packaging so that once the food is delivered, customer can discard the outer packet and take the inside packet,” informs Saraf, and Ahmad adds, “When the food is delivered, it goes with a sachet of sanitiser. In fact, in Covid times, I personally prefer only takeaway foods, which is prepared while following all Covid precautions.”

A similar thought is shared by home chef Amita Garg, whose elaborate Navratri menu includes Kuttu Ka Halwa, Makhana Kheer, Nariyal Barfi, and Dates Dryfruit Ladoo. She says, “As home chef, I used to take care of hygiene and sanitation even before the pandemic, but now, I’m utmost careful. We use all fresh ingredients, and prepare food only at my home kitchen, which is sanitated on a daily basis. Temperature checks of delivery boys are also done regularly, and I double pack the boxes for more safety.”

Author tweets @Nainaarora8

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