‘Navratna’ in Sanskrit means ‘nine gems’ and has a special cultural and religious significance in the Asiatic region. Mirroring the 9 celestial bodies known to ancient wisdom, a gem was assigned to each – Ruby is the gem for the Sun, natural Pearl for the Moon, Red Coral for Mars, Emerald for Mercury, Yellow Sapphire for Jupiter, Diamond for Venus, Blue Sapphire for Saturn, Hessonite for Rahu (ascending lunar node), and Cat’s Eye for Ketu (descending lunar node) – and held sacred and as a symbol of royalty. It was inevitable that this reverence should eventually find its way into food, resulting in the Navratna Mixture as the culinary homage to the nine gems.
The traditional Navratna Mixture
Composed of nuts, raisins and lentils, usually combined with deep-fried gram flour noodle sticks and/or fried cornflakes to provide an interesting contrast in texture and flavour – it is protein packed and absolutely crunchy and delicious! Making this at home, if at all possible, is reserved for absolutely special occasions, because traditionally, all the ingredients are deep-fried in oil – which can be considered a slightly dangerous endeavor as you are attempting to deep-fry a soaked and/or boiled lentil, full of moisture and a tendency to ‘pop’.
Healthier, safer way is to Bake!
But if you take away the grease and potential danger, it can be quite a treat to enjoy, and seeing as how protein packed this is, makes for a nice energy bar substitute while you are hitting the trails. So how can you make it at home? Baking is the safe answer to the above conundrum.
Like many things in life, no two things are exactly interchangeable. So baking cannot give the crisp crunchiness that comes from deep-frying. But it is the closest, safest, healthiest alternative, and I find no qualms in sacrificing just a little texture for all the goodness that baking makes possible.
But I draw the line at baking cornflakes. Sure, you can microwave them like papads but trust me, its not the same as deep-frying them. Plus, it’s just a small amount, so just give up and fry them please! It’s totally worth it!
The fabulous 9
I have picked the following 9 culinary ‘gems’ to make my version of the Baked Navratna Mixture – Cashews, Almonds, Raisins, Corn flakes, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, Moong dal (mung beans), Chana Dal (split bengal gram) and peanuts.
In an attempt to introduce another dimension of flavour, I used the Sprouts Farmers Market Chilli Peanuts – they are flavoured with a hot and sour spice mix that makes for an interesting bite. If you have a local/personal version of spiced/flavoured peanuts, use that instead of plain roasted peanuts.
Click on each of these images to get detailed recipe instructions.
But having said that, the name suggests 9 gems – you can decide and choose the 9 based on your taste preferences. So go ahead and pick your 9 ingredients.
And when you make these, be sure to SHARE YOUR PHOTOS with me through Facebook, Instagram (@loveisinmytummy) or Twitter (@loveisinmytummy). I’d love to see what you cook from here and will share it with pride on my social media feeds.