Please Lord Ram with a bounty of divine delightful prasads - Hindustan Times
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Please Lord Ram with a bounty of divine delightful prasads

ByAbigail banerji
Jan 21, 2024 12:13 PM IST

As you celebrate the pran pratishtha of the Ram Mandir, show your devotion by making these prasads from Lord Ram's favourite foods as shared in the Ramayana

As the nation celebrates and the world watches in awe of the consecration of the highly-anticipated Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, the birthplace of Ram, an offering to show your love and devotion is a given. Prasad or prasadam is an offering of food, usually vegetarian and sweet, that is first given to God and prayed over.

Lord Ram(Instagram)
Lord Ram(Instagram)

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor explains, “In India, traditionally, when we talk about Prasad, it was a meal. Also, since there are some references to some fruits and food items in a text, so we say that it was a favourite.” For Ram, some of his favourite foods include Indian berries like jamun and ber, ram kandmool, mangoes, and amaranth, to name a few.

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Lord Ram(Instagram)
Lord Ram(Instagram)

Kapoor goes on to explain that two types of prasadas can be offered to deities in India - sweet items like badusha, mishri or puffed rice that is coated with sugar or jaggery and a meal like the Mahaprasad given at Jagannath Puri, langar served at gurudwaras, and cholay puri with halwa, which is a complete meal served as prasad in several temples.

Here’s a look at some of Ram’s favourite foods, according to the Ramayan.

A bounty of fruits

Ram, Sita and Lakshmana spent the majority of their 14 years in exile in the Dandakaranya forests, which is said to have been spread out from Orissa to Telangana and even in parts of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. During their time here, they most likely lived on the fruits and vegetables found in the vicinity.

Ber fruit popularized by Shabri ke ber (Instagram)
Ber fruit popularized by Shabri ke ber (Instagram)

According to legends, Indian berries like jamun and ber were some of Ram’s favourite fruits to consume. In the holy text, ardent devotee Sabari is an elderly ascetic, who would leave her ashram daily to collect ber (jujube). She would taste each berry and keep the sweet ones, which she offered to Ram. While she didn't know that offerings must not be tasted, Ram did eat her berries. Kapoor shares, “The best way to offer fruits as prasad is to serve it whole. However, you can juice it and drink it.” Chef Nishant Chaubey adds, “Cut up the fruit and sprinkle some grated coconut, sugar, holy tulsi leaves and a few cloves. You can also make ber and makhana ladoo, a halwa with ber and cashews or a ber kaju katli. As you get nolen gur during the winter season, make a nolen gur kheer and add the fruit.”

In the Ramayan, there are two fruits that are named after Ram - Ram Kandmool and Ramphal - as it is believed he ate it regularly at different periods of his life. According to scriptures, Ram ate the Ram Kandmool, which is very hard to find and is a superfood during his time in the forest. It is said that eating this tuber would keep the hunger pangs away for a long time. It is primarily found in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In Tamil Nadu, it is called Boomi Sakkaraivalli Kizhangu, while in the north, it is called Ramkand and Rama Chandra Kandmool. Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji says, “One should eat this tuber in very small quantities as it is poisonous and contains a lot of alkaloids. Street vendors sell it thinly sliced with a sprinkle of red chilli powder, salt, palm sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.”

Ram kandphool is a tuber that is thought to be eaten by Ram during his 14-year exile(Instagram)
Ram kandphool is a tuber that is thought to be eaten by Ram during his 14-year exile(Instagram)

On the other hand, Ramphal plays an important part in the epic as it is believed that the fruit sprang up from the sweat of Ram that fell to the ground. Another version says that Ram ate this fruit in Rishikesh when he was completing penance after killing a Brahmin, the demon king Ravana, who kidnapped Sita. While Kugaji explains that sheera or hawa made from Ramphal is the best way to enjoy it, Chaubey adds, “You can make a ladoo with ramphan and gond or a smoothie with Ramphal, coconut and chia seeds. A ramphal and anar phirni would taste delicious, too.”

Mango payesh(Instagram)
Mango payesh(Instagram)

The mango is considered a sacred fruit in Hinduism and features a prominent role in many ancient texts. It is also believed that the mango tree is the residence of the gods. To show his affection to Sita, Ram promised to bring her a mango in the Ramayana. If you want to incorporate the king of fruits in your prasad, Kapoor suggests making a mango phirni or adding mango to yoghurt to make something similar to bhapa doi. “You can also serve aamras or use raw mango to make a vegetable or chutney that can be served with hot puris,” shares Kapoor.

Something sweet

According to Hindu mythology, Ram’s fondness for kheer was very well known. It was usually prepared in the royal kitchens of Ayodhya during his reign. “Kheer, payasam or payesh, this creamy pudding made with rice, milk, sugar and spices, is delicious. It is one of the most popular desserts in India that is offered as a prasad for festivals and religious occasions”, shares Chef Ajay Samtani from Via Bombay. One story that backs Ram’s love for Kheer is that his father, King Dasharatha gave a bowl of divine Kheer to his wife Kaushalya, who then divided it between his other two wives - Kaikeyi and Sumitra. This kheer was special as it was supposed to help the queens give the childless King, a heir. Sumitra gave birth to twins — Lakshmana and Shatrughana, while Kaushalya and Kaikeyi had Rama and Bharatha, respectively.

Bowls of kheer were made in the royal kitchens of Ayodhya(Instagram)
Bowls of kheer were made in the royal kitchens of Ayodhya(Instagram)

Several ancient texts like the Ramayana and the Manusmṛti mention a dish called Shashkuli, a sweet made of besan and fried in ghee. While some think it is the much-loved jalebi, others believe it might be the savoury chakli or murukku. According to another legend, Ram loved eating jalebis a lot, so much so that Hanuman used to make this sweet dish himself for him.

Ram is said to have liked jalebis a lot and it is usually served with rabri(Instagram)
Ram is said to have liked jalebis a lot and it is usually served with rabri(Instagram)

Samtani shares, “There’s nothing more comforting than the warm, syrupy goodness of jalebis. Deep fried till they are golden, they are made with maida and soaked in sugar syrup. It can be eaten on its own or with rabri.”

A divine offering

In the South, Chef Sarvananand Chitambaram, regional chef of The Vitskamats Group, says a popular prasadam or naivedyam offered to Ram is water with Tulsi leaves, sakarai Pongal made with Moong dal and sweets like boondi. “During Ram Navami, Panakam, a traditional South Indian drink is made with jaggery, black pepper, cardamoms and water. You can also add holy basil or tulsi leaves. It is considered to be a healthy drink and good for the digestive system. It is also made during the summer season,” explains Chitambaram.

Halwa, puri with channa is a popular prasad offered to Ram on Ram Navami(Instagram)
Halwa, puri with channa is a popular prasad offered to Ram on Ram Navami(Instagram)

Halwa Puri cholay is a hearty meal that comprises a spicy yet dry black channa dish served with hot puris and a sooji halwa. There are many ways to prepare it and the variations of this dish differ from region to region. This dish is served hot to devotees on other festivals like Diwali, Makar Sankranti, Ekadashi and more.

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