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Use These Ingredients To Make Healthy Sadhya Dishes This Vishu

Happy Vishu! The ingredients that make the Sadhya are seasonal & hence at the peak of their nutritional content.

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5 min read
Use These Ingredients To Make  Healthy Sadhya Dishes This Vishu
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Happy Vishu, everyone!

Vishu is the Malayali New Year celebrated across the state of Kerala. It is a festival that follows the solar cycle and falls in mid-April every year. The Zodiac New Year is celebrated when the sun enters into Sidereal Aries, Ashwini nakshatra. Unlike most festivals, the celebrations of Vishu are more of a family affair conducted with solemnity and piety.

It is a traditional belief that if a person views joyful and auspicious things on the first day of the New Year then the year will be prosperous and happy.

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The women of the house prepare lord Vishnu’s room a day earlier placing colourful items like bright yellow kani kona (Indian laburnum), rice, silver and gold items ,golden lemon, golden cucumber, coconut cut open, kanmashi kajal, betel leaves, and metal mirror among other things. Golden colour is central to Lord Vishnu’s prayer hence all things golden yellow and gold find a place in the VISHUKANI. The elder lady of the house does a darshan of the lord first thing in the morning and then wakes up each member of the family and leads them to the prayer room blindfolded so that the first thing they see on the day is auspicious.

As is the tradition with festivals Sadhya or feast is a major part of the celebrations. Specialities that are a must include, Vishu Kanji, Vishu kata, and Thoran. Other important delicacies include Veppampoorasam, Mampazhappulissery, and bewu bella, a mix of sweet, salty, and bitter flavours. The food is vegetarian today.

Kerala's Grand New Year Feast: Vishu Sadhya

The ingredients that make these dishes are seasonal and hence at the peak of their nutritional content. Each item used for making the feast is a superfood in themselves.

1. Rice

Rice is eaten a lot across the country.
Rice is eaten a lot across the country.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Freshly harvested rice is used for making kanji, the first drink of the day. Not milled this rice has its nutrients intact. Parboiling, a common practise after harvesting locks the nutrients into the endosperm of the grain. The fibre content of parboiled rice is almost double the amount as compared to normal polished milled rice. Other than starchy carbs it is a good source of Vitamins thiamine and niacin and mineral potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium. This rice has low to medium GI and is filling because of the fibre being intact, preventing weight gain and risk of diabetes.

2. Coconut

Coconut is a part of every dish prepared for the feast. Hindu scriptures call coconut a SHRIPHAL, it is life sustaining by itself. Though high in saturated fats, coconut is also a source of strong antimicrobial and antiviral components. It is also a source of protein, minerals antioxidants, all of which contribute to good health. Taken in modest amounts it adds to a healthy diet.

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3. Pumpkin

Pumpkin is low in calories and high in nourishment.
Pumpkin is low in calories and high in nourishment.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

The bright yellow /orange colour of the vegetable is an indication that this is rich in an important antioxidant β- carotene or beta carotene. In our body this pro vitamin is converted to Vitamin A, which performs several essential functions. Its antioxidant capacity helps protect against cancers of the colon. The high content of Beta carotene is beneficial for both eye and skin health and the Vitamin C, helps improve our immunity. Low in calories and high in nourishment.

4. Raw Plantain

Raw plantain are rich in Vitamin C and B6. Vitamin C is essential for our immunity to remain robust and for that lovely skin while Vitamin B6 helps our body become energy efficient. Raw bananas are also known to be good for digestion and are safe for diabetics to.

5. Mango

The king of fruits is also very nourishing. A rich source of beta carotene, vitamin A and Vitamin C makes it a potent antioxidant cocktail which brings health for our skin and eyes while ramping up our immunity. Mangoes are also sources of vitamins like B6, Folates.

6. Jaggery

Jaggery is associated with better digestion, providing energy and working to de-toxify the body.
Jaggery is associated with better digestion, providing energy and working to de-toxify the body.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Jaggery or unrefined sugar may contain the same amounts of calories as normal sugar, but because it is not put through any chemical process means that the nutrients are more or less intact. It provides minerals not present in refined sugars and has long been associated with good health in Ayurveda. It is associated with better digestion, providing energy and working to de-toxify the body.

7. Neem Flower

Neem flower used in cooking dishes on this auspicious day lends a bitter flavour to the food. Ayurveda believes that neem flower clams the system and prepares it for the gruelling summer ahead.

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There are so many more like drumsticks ,one of the richest sources of Iron, white peas which add proteins, Jackfruit and the Kerala spices that don’t just add flavour but also work on our digestion, protect us against cancers, prevent and help control diabetes and scavenge free radicals to protect us against heart diseases.

Traditional mixing of flavours –sweet, tangy, bitter and salty is a reminder that life is just that , a journey of all flavours. Starting the New Year with these flavours is symbolic to be ready to experience all of them and that no one experience is wholly sweet, bitter or tangy.

Wishing you all a very happy NEW YEAR filled with flavours of health and happiness.

(Rupali Datta is a clinical nutritionist who has led teams in corporate hospitals. She has an in-depth knowledge of health care, food and nutrition – both in wellness and diseases. She has appeared as a food and health expert on various TV shows on BBC, NDTV, CNN IBN , AAJ TAK, DD, etc. She has also been associated with e-commerce food websites for which she has created health and nutrition content.)

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