The Cordon Bleu of Udipi

                                                     Vrata Parivaraha

During the Chaaturmasya of every year, starting from Ashada Ekadashi to Karthika Ekadashi, four kinds of Vratas are observed by the Madhwa Brahmins. They are as follows Shaka Vrata, Dadhi Vrata, Ksheera Vrata, and Dwidala Vrata. During this period certain food habits are observed. It includes avoiding few vegetables, spices and cereals. It is observed bearing some established facts in mind which includes the climatic conditions and health benefits. 

Let us look into few food practices which gives us an idea about how the Vrata is observed. Butter milk is allowed to be consumed by those who practice Dadhi Vrata but curd is forbidden. Observing Ksheera Vrata prohibits the usage of milk. By observing the following restrictions, a normal day’s food habit can be practised as usual in these two kinds of Vrata.

Unlike the Dadhi and Ksheera Vrata-s, Shaka and Dwidala Vrata-s differ widely in various aspects. The food habit practised, which includes taste and smell, during Shaka and Dwidala vary completely. These two Vrata-s also forbids some pulses and vegetables as in-take.

Considerable number of Madhwa Brahmin population lives in Udupi and it is a place famous for delicious vegetarian diet choice. But by observing these Vrata-s one is restricted from enjoying the real delicacies of Udupi cuisines. These restrictions prevent us from over-indulgence and brings in a discipline which eventually helps in maintaining a good health. It is not only an individual who is benefitted from observing these Vrata-s, but it plays a vital role in preserving our tradition, culture, and heritage.

Unfortunately, this kind of Vrata style of cooking and diet pattern are slowly fading away from our memory as well as our tradition. The primary reason is the lack of culinary experts in the Vrata style of cooking, supplemented by our indulgence in western eating patterns. 

In the light of modernity, the delicious junk is preferred to a native balanced diet. Still, the healthy tradition is followed by some orthodox Madhwa households. 

At this point of time, we now slowly begin to retrace and relive our past, holding it in one and the modern in another. The pure modernity has taught us a lesson, indeed lessons, that it is going to take us no-where and better not spoil our health heeding to its gossips. It can be stated that what we really need is a hybridized form of ancient and modern, the former values and habits accompanied by the latter ways. 

It is high time for us to research and understand the lost culinary skills, culture, and civilization.

Speciality of Vrata Preparations

The speciality of Vrata is that only a light-food diet pattern is followed which helps us to remain active all through the day. Foods which suit and nourish our body, keeping in mind the internal and the external factors like digestion, climatic conditions, are observed. Spices are usually avoided and vegetables which are easily digestible are consumed.

I. Points to remember while observing Shaka and Dwidala Vrata-s:

  • The dry fruits like cashew nut, cardamom, asafoetida, and saffron are restricted for in-take while observing Shaka and Dwidala Vrata-s. Consuming ginger and turmeric are permitted in Dwidala Vrata while they are prohibited in Shaka Vrata.
  • Rice, wheat, green gram, green gramdal, black gramdal, cumin, mustard and pepper are permitted for consuming while Shaka Vrata is being observed. While pulses and spices that are imported from crossing the ghats, like red chillies, green chillies, leafy vegetables such as spinach, are avoided. Only mango is allowed to be eaten among the fruit varieties.
  • While observing the Dwidala Vrata fruits and vegetables like banana, yam, sambrani, sweet potato, pepper, cumin, and sesame, are allowed for consuming. Certain others like, green vegetables, leafy vegetables, pulses, tamarind, lemon, and all fruits [except dates (fresh and dried), mangoes] are barred.
  • The reason behind prohibiting green and leafy vegetables while observing the Shaka Vrata is they rot easily because of low sunlight received and also are infected by worms and insects during this time. Taking health into foremost priority, they are avoided in order to prevent diseases. However, there are few exceptional varieties of spinach like Ondelaga (brahmi) and Ponnangani are consumed because of their high antiseptic and medicinal properties.
  • These four kinds of Vrata-s are followed during the four seasons in a year. Shaka is followed by Dwidala Vrata. Tubers like yam, and sweet potato are recommended during this Vrata because of their high nutrition content, which the body requires in large quantities during this time.

Words are not sufficient to describe the wisdom of our ancestors. Their ways, food habits, eco-consciousness, philosophies, architecture, games, were far more intelligent and rational. Let us dive back and find more about our ancestors’ way of live in The Verandah Club. Stay tuned with us!


1. ‘Udipi Cuisines’ by U. B. Rajalakshmi


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