As the cloudy skies crack open, do you find yourself reminiscing over the good old days of dancing in the rain? With the current situation, most of us are indoors; unable to let our inner child run free. Keep your chin up, because there is one thing that gives us all serenity - food. As the seasons change and the weather gets cooler, our body temperature drops. When this happens, our body requires more calories to stay comfy and satiated. We all tend to crave carbs and fried foods during this time, don't we? According to Ayurvedic tradition, spicy, sour and oily foods balance the Vata Dosha and prevent digestive problems which are common during this time. Foods that are rich in fats are also known to promote the release of feel-good hormones in the brain. This is particularly handy when you are feeling just as gloomy as the weather outside. You can always consciously replace unhealthy oils and carbs with ingredients that are better suited to your dietary needs.
We don't know about you, but we are ready for the monsoon with our filter coffee in hand! We hope you are too; but if you aren't, don't fret. These Indian comfort foods will certainly get you in the spirit:
1. Bajjis and Pakoras
Fresh, hot batches of pakoras or bajjis are the epitome of satisfaction on a cold, windy day. These are made from vegetables like potato, onion, mirchi, eggplant and even fruits like bananas. They are coated in a gram flour batter and deep-fried. These crispy Indian classics are taken up a notch with a cup of masala chai.
2. Stuffed Parathas
Nothing is quite as enticing as a kitchen enveloped with the aroma of parathas. The buttery flatbreads are made with atta/ dough which is folded into layers. A mixture of mashed-up vegetables (like potato, cauliflower, paneer, etc.) and spices are added to the centre which is rolled out. It is then pan-fried and served with a spicy pickle or dahi.
3. Good Old Kichdi
We could not leave out this standard household dish – kichdi. The fusion of rice and lentils like moong dal, bajra, etc., is scrumptious and packed with nutrients like protein. The Bengali version, called Khichuri, incorporated vegetables, lentils and spices that help invigorate immunity. Don't be afraid to add a pinch of ghee and a spoonful of a pickle – it truly goes a long way.
4. Vegetable Stew
A hearty vegetable stew is sure to send waves of warmth throughout your body. The 'ishtu' from the soul of Kerala is made with spices like cardamom and cinnamon. These are sautéed along with preferable veggies like carrots, beans and peas which are boiled in coconut milk. Creamy stews can be eaten with parathas, appam or rice.
5. Chole Bhatura
The fluffed-up Bhaturas combined with your rendition of channa masala just melts in your mouth. Bhaturas are usually made from the dough using maida and baking soda which is deep-fried in oil. This makes them oh so light and tempting! You can switch them out with whole wheat puris for a healthier meal. Channa/chickpea masala is a curry made with tomato puree and spices like cardamom and bay leaves. The masalas in this dish blend perfectly to form a tantalizing flavour. Chickpeas are a great source of fibre, healthy fats and carbohydrates.
6. Aloo Tikki
Tikki is a croquette made with boiled potato and spices which is then pan-fried. You can include some cooked dal and cheese for additional protein as well. These two ingredients are mashed up with bread crumbs and spiced with garam masala and coriander powder. This mixture is then rolled into patties and fried till golden brown. You can make a spicy mint chutney or tangy tamarind chutney to complement the tikkis.
7. Gajar Ka Halwa
A mouth-watering dessert served hot? Count us in! Gajar ka halwa is a traditional pudding made from carrots. It is made by cooking carrot, milk, sugar and spices together to form a delicious halwa. Nuts and raisins are often used as the ultimate finisher. Indulge in this treat when you need a pick-me-up and you will not regret it! You can prepare it with parfaits or even a side of vanilla ice cream.
These are just a handful of the striking foods India has to offer during the monsoon. You can tweak these dishes to your tastes and give yourself the freedom to make the most of the season. It is okay to let go of the restrictions you may have on your diet once in a while- as long as everything is in moderation and feels good in your body!