The spiritual season of Navratri is around the corner and, for the next nine days, lavish spreads will be replaced with plates of vegetarian, fast-friendly fare. If you’ve got a grocery bag full of sweet potatoes, fruits, sago, and nuts at home, transform them into gourmet meals with these delightful Navratri recipes.
A large part of embracing Navratri festivities, in addition to praying to deity Durga, is fasting. While some across the country abstain from meat, grains, lentils, garlic, and onion for nine days, others pay their respects by fasting on certain days through the festive season instead. Although festivities have different iterations across households, a common practice is to cook up a healthy feast featuring fruits, vegetables, and other permissible ingredients.
Star dishes of this time include shakarkandi chaat, samak dosa, makhana kheer, and singhare ke atte ka samosa, amongst others. That said, if you’ve got a hankering for switching things up this festive season or would like to add to your cooking repertoire, chef Tarun Sibal has refreshing and delectable options. The first is a crunchy, indulgent sabudana tikki, while the other is an innovative and refreshing watermelon toast with sweet potato salad, broiled quinoa, and shikanji dressing.
A step-by-step guide to cooking for Navratri like chef Tarun Sibal
250 grams soaked sago, 1 boiled potato, ¼ cup coriander leaves, ½ teaspoon red chilli powder, 1 cup ghee, 2 large, chopped green chillies, ¼ cup crushed roasted peanuts, sendha namak (pink salt) to taste
- Soak the sago in water for two to three hours and drain the excess water once it has turned fluffy. Transfer to a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, add boiled potatoes and mash them with your hands.
- To this, add crushed, roasted peanuts, chopped green chillies, coriander leaves, red chilli powder, sendha namak, and the drained sago. Shape this mixture into tikkis.
- Add ghee to a pan and heat over medium flame until the ghee is sufficiently hot.
- Carefully place the tikkis on the pan and fry until they turn golden brown and crispy.
2 tablespoons imli puree, juice of 3 lemons, 1 teaspoon sendha namak, 4 tablespoon sugar syrup, 1 tablespoon mint and coriander puree, 1 teaspoon jeera powder, 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper.
Watermelon and Sweet potato salad with broiled quinoa
2 slices of seedless watermelon, 4 tablespoon prepared shikanji imli dressing, 1 cup (90 percent boiled) diced, skinless sweet potatoes, 4 tablespoons ghee, 5 tablespoons boiled quinoa, a handful microgreens.
- Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.
- Prepare two large slices of watermelon and add 2 tablespoons of dressing to it. Allow it to soak into the watermelon for 20 minutes.
- Pat dry the boiled and chopped sweet potatoes to remove excess moisture before pan frying them with ghee until golden brown.
- Strain the quinoa and allow it to cool before broiling it in a hot pan until it’s crispy.
Assemble your Navratri meal with microgreens and chutney
- Plate the tikki with imli chutney and mint to taste. Serve hot.
- For the watermelon toast, top each slice with sweet potatoes and quinoa before drizzling the remaining dressing. Finish this off with microgreens and serve fresh.
Chef Tarun Sibal’s passion for cooking began at home
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Chef Tarun Sibal is known to craft plates of food that are too stunning to eat. His journey in the culinary world spans over 19 years and began with his family’s shared love for all things gastronomical. In fact, Sibal watched his family run a catering business for years before charting the course to earn his toque blanche, starting with studying at IHM Pusa Delhi. He then trained at the Oberoi and India Habitat Centre and worked as a sous chef while absorbing everything he could from top names in the industry.
Over the years since, he’s added several feathers to his cap, collaborating with food brands, launching his businesses, and guiding restaurants like Sidecar, Loft, and Urban Deck. A self-professed wine connoisseur, he has also worked with brands like Fratelli and Berentzen Spirits and is credited for bringing Bordeaux Wine School to India. Currently, the culinary director and co-founder of food enterprise One Fine Meal and the co-founder of cafe Staywoke, Title, and Street Storyss, Sibal’s passion for all things culinary is undeniable.
His Instagram is a reflection of this, often spotlighting fun, quirky recipes that are a feast for the eyes and palates. His most recent addition are the fun, easy-to-follow Navratri recipes that will add a celebratory flavour to any spread.
All images: Courtesy chef Tarun Sibal