As we enter the season of chills and cosy thrills, the one thing that comes to our mind is hot and steamy delicacies. It is a known fact that consuming seasonal food is healthy. After all, this is what nature wanted for us.
Interestingly, with the diversity of cultures each region of ‘Incredible India’ boasts of its winter speciality that tops the list this season. Ask any person braving the cold North night about his favourite food. Without batting an eyelid it will be ‘sarson ka saag’ and ‘makkai ki roti’. Come to the Best West and it will be millet roti either ragi or bajra, go East it is perhaps Nolen Gur and South it is avial jam-packed with winter veggies and healthy.
Let’s dig deeper into what will help us remain the pink of health this time around…
There has to be some magic in this timeless combination of mustard leaves and makkai ki roti, corn-flour bread. Is it the glittering pond of pure ghee on the hot delicious saag that we can’t wait to dig in? More than that. Sometimes jaggery is added to give it the dish a sweet knock.
It makes sense as jaggery being a source of iron and other healthy nutrient that lends warmth. This sweet delight also increases immunity and treats symptoms of flu. For a power punch of vitality, eat gur.
Why just North, this famous dish has made its way into the hearts of Indians from every region…and here is why…
The leafy mustard green is found aplenty in winter. It is extremely nutritious. Packed with goodness and anti-cancer properties, it makes a good source of fibre too. Cooked with ginger, garlic and the works makes for a rich, green dish potent with goodness and warmth so needed in winter.
The blessed counterpart of makkai ki roti is a great way to keep you feeling full for a longer time. Corn flour is complex carbs that infuses one with energy so required when the temperatures dip. One can have makkai ki roti with any other veggie or just goodness-packed jaggery will work as good. With ghee poured atop, this flat bread becomes utterly irresistible and yummy.
Clarified butter is yet another way to keep you warm. Made from homemade butter, it is good for our healthy wellness. Hailed high in Ayurveda, ghee aids digestion. It also works to keep our joints working to its optimal level and prevent joint pains. Versatile, clarified butter gives us the energy we need during winters and cools our system when the temperatures are soaring.
Carrot, gajar ka halwa
Yes, we are talking about the bright red-pink carrot available only in winter, the very one that is famously used to yummy gajar ka halwa. This root is loaded with vitamins and known to be the antidote for eye problems. But we don’t need a reason to see eye-to-eye, we just dig in the halwa.
The ghee used to prepare this dish helps prevent all joint aches and pains. Add a few sliced almonds and raisins and rise the healthy quotient level of this dish. A spoon of homemade cream on top and this is one dish you cannot miss. Apart from improving your vision, the delicacy will tickle your taste buds and give you good health too. Now, what more do we want?
We have a good number of reasons why you should snack on dry fruits. Almonds, figs, walnuts, figs, apricots, pistas, cashews, raisins…all are loaded with flavour and nutrients. This potent mix is a must-have in winter. It gives you the boost of energy to keep you pushing on a cold winter morning. Add them to your morning breakfast cereal/porridge, your hot cup of milk or just snack on it, it is just so good.
While you watch the morning mist from your window, sip on that steamy cup of tea with tulsi (basil) and ginger. Supreme. It all makes sense. In our Indian tradition (and also Ayurveda) this holy herb has many benefits. It is anti-bacterial, antiviral and increases our immunity towards cold, keeping the body healthy. You can have it plain too perhaps throw in bits of jaggery.
Elaichi tea is a great mood booster and keeps winter illnesses at bay.
Ginger, on the other hand, relieves throat inflammation and congestion. Even biting into the pungent ginger works wonder. Mix a little jaggery to balance the spice and everything will be so nice.
Spinach, carrots, red pumpkin, white radish, sweet potato amaranth are few of the veggies you should grab this winter. Loaded with rich nutrients and vitamins you can make hot hearty soup with cheese pockets swimming in it to be had on a cold night. Go South and cook avial to be had with steamy rice. Go West take the taste of undhiyo. Add them to your dals, there are varieties of dishes one can make from these vegetables. Enjoy.
Millets, spices and condiments
Millets like ragi, bajra makkai, jowar are common, especially in winter. Not only they are healthy, but these also give you the strength to push through this harsh season with ease. Additionally, Indian cuisine uses a lot of spices like haldi, red chilli powder, jeera and dhania powder all being good for you. Add some condiment like clove, laung and such and give a pleasant twist to all your dishes. Have it with sabji or pickles and enjoy to the hilt. Power be to you.
Nolen Gur (New Jaggery)
A palm tree jaggery from Bengal, this unique jaggery is available only for a brief period in winter. The process of preparing Nolen gur can be done only in in the cold season, making it a winter-exclusive. Also called ‘Notun gur’ this unique gur is completely organic. No wonder it is known to be safe for diabetics. However, there is no harm in asking your doctors before enjoying it. A number of mouth-watering Nolen gur sweet delicacies are available. So, before they vanish from the racks, rush to have it.
Hot chocolate with cinnamon sticks
Who can deny the luxurious taste of thick hot chocolate? Not us…the goodness of milk and the heavenly spoons of cocoa. Add your choice of sweet – honey or sugar. Dip in the cinnamon stick for the extra zest. This bark is known to relieve sore throat and cold. So, go ahead. While the winter night is long, you get strong.
Have some great chills this mausam. Cheers!