Although here in the UK the month of August is synonymous with sumptuous picnics, sizzling BBQs and plenty of Pimms in the sunshine, over on the other side of the world and throughout the Indian sub-continent, a holy month of fasting is well underway. Shravan month is one of the most important periods in the Hindu calendar; a month dedicated to Lord Shiva with various fasts and rituals held in his honour.
Unlike the month of Ramadan, where the fast is kept every day from sunrise to sunset, Shravan holds Mondays as the most auspicious day to fast for Lord Shiva whilst Tuesdays also see devotees fast in order to honour the Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva’s consort. Worshippers will also visit temples to make offerings of betel leaves and mixtures of the most favoured foods of the gods such as rich ghee, sticky honey, sweet jaggery and creamy milk.
Although Shravan is a tradition dating back hundreds – if not thousands– of years, fasting on certain days has perhaps surprisingly caught on amongst the youth of India. A recent report in the Times of India revealed that to capitalise on trendy, city students and teenagers embracing this holy period, many restaurants, cafes and fast food establishments are creating exciting new variations on meals to entice customers looking to treat themselves after a hard day of fasting.
Here are some of the tastiest snacks on the menu:
Sweet foods are always favoured at times of fast –so India’s famous sweet shops can look forward to plenty of business coming their way! Rajgara is cooked in clarified butter and then mixed with a mouth-watering combination of dried fruit, sugar and milk – if it’s good enough for the gods…
2. Sago vada
Originating in the state of Maharashtra, sago vada is a deep-fried snack that’s not only popular in times of hard fasting but makes a wonderful accompaniment to a cup of hot chai when the monsoons hit. Basically, these deep-fried balls of sag, potatoes, nuts and spices tick all the boxes at this time of year.
In terms of comfort food, the potato surely has to be up there on the list. Aloochevda consists of shredded, fried potatoes combined with dried fruit, nuts and a dusting of powdered sugar. The blend of savoury and sweet flavours is certainly worth fasting for.
4. Coconut barfi
The king of Indian sweets, barfi, has a melt-in-the-mouth texture that tastes like silk. In fact, we would go so far as to say that after a bite of barfi, all other sweets taste like cotton in comparison. The coconut version makes a fresh, light addition to the milk, sugar and ghee recipe whilst providing a little tropical exoticism to this heavenly snack.
If all this talk of fasting foods has stirred up your appetite, why not treat yourself to some of your favourite Indian foods and book a table at one of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants? After all, you can’t fast forever.