Gorge on Glorious Foods this Season
The winter season is here and there are a number of ways on how you can beat the frosty blues. A cup of chai (Indian sweet tea) or south-indian filter kapi (coffee); piping hot and tongue burning decoctions, which are sure to warm your cold heart. Enjoy the Indian winters with seasonal fruits, soul-warming street food and comforting grandma’s recipes (if she’s not around then please find her recipes and try them out).
As with language, culture and traditions the regions of the sub-continent experience different shades of winters, from pleasant to bone-chilling. Reach the Himalayas to experience the cold-bites and down-south to witness the touch of spring. Each zone has its very own culinary remedies for the wintry cold weather.
When summer is around you yearn for for cool winters…and now winter is here what do you crave for? Definitely, it is the hottest of food to soothe your coldest of nerves.
Let us try a few of the time-tested ancient concoctions and nature’s seasonal bounty passed down from generations to generations. A few are still the favorite of many. Both natural and woman-made food fare have pleased the winter palate of the citizens.
The time has arrived to overcome the winter-tide with food.
Guava Fruit Chaat
Seasonal fruits taste best during `their’ time of the year. Typical Indian fruits like guavas, papayas and apples are deliciously available this season. Just bite into the crunchiest of apples and taste its goodness. Even Langurs (a species of monkeys) visit the neighborhood gardens just to feast on the juicy guavas.
Cut, sprinkle a little salt and mirchi (red chilli) powder. Salty and tangy fruit salad is ready to devour in minutes.
The great Indian chai in its different avatars is an Indian’s cup of joy. Summers or winters; seasons may come and go, but the eternal cup is never empty. Try out the masala version of the heavenly milky desi chai.
Blend dry ingredients like cardamom (green), star anise, cloves, dried up ginger and fennel seeds and keep it in airtight containers. Just add a pinch when brewing your tea and your cup of masala tea is ready to drink. Hot, delicious, medicinal and soul-stirring!
Stir-fried Desi Veggies
Let us not forget the healthy veggies…from the green leafy stuff to the sturdy warming-up produce, vegetables are the freshest, cheapest and best during the winter months. Cozy up with a colorful plate of steamed or stir-fried dishes and forget the frost-biting cold outside your kitchen window. Carrots, French beans, methi (fenugreek plant leaves) and palak (spinach) are few of the many fares that adorn an Indian winter bazaar.
Blanch green beans, carrots, cauliflower, peas and palak in salted hot water. Remove, drain and dry on cloth. Take a kadai (wok), add some oil (any), half-a-teaspoon of chopped garlic and a few dry red chillies (whole). Add the blanched veggies and stir fry. Sprinkle salt to taste and kali mirch (black pepper powder). Serve and eat hot.
Grandma’s meat balls in curry sauce, is an internationally popular comfort food. From Italians to Indians, there are varied editions of the same dish. In India any `food ball’ is called a kofta…and so let us write on the kofta Prepared with minced lamb or chicken and even with mixture of veggies, the koftas appear in the ancient cookbooks of the nawabs (Indian nobility). It is the best curry treat that is sure to make the sun shine brighter on a misty cold afternoon.
Make the koftas using lamb, chicken or vegetables and deep fry in oil. Prepare the curry sauce as in any other Indian curry preparation with all spices, onions, tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste and masalas. Add the koftas to the curry and simmer. You can add ground cashewnut paste for extra richness. Enjoy with naan or roti.
Let us complete the meal with an Indian dessert. A warm sweet dish brightens all dull and cold winter moods. There are numerous desserts that are local to the Indian palate like the eternal kheer (rice pudding) and the gorgeous gajar-ka-halwa (sticky sweet dessert).
Grate the reddest of carrots and add it to a kadai with ghee. Stir fry till semi-cooked and then add thickened milk. Reduce till the milk evaporates. Add sugar, cashewnuts and raisins. Heart-warmingly rich!
What is Indian food? It is as varied and diverse as its region, people, and culture. Each and every town in the country has its set of delicacies. Summers and winters differ too! So, try out some of the universal Indian cuisine known far and near (mentioned above) and enjoy your winter-break. Food gives the best compliments of the season. Season Greetings!