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Monsoon food – what to eat when it pours :: Lonely Planet India

Monsoon food – what to eat when it pours :: Lonely Planet India


Almost every state in India has its own monsoon delicacyImage courtesy: ©Indian Food Images/Shutterstock.com

When the rains come lashing down and the sweltering heat ends, different parts of the country start rustling up special dishes that go beyond the usual pakoras, bhutta, and chai. Here’s what India puts on its plate when monsoons awaken the appetite for something richer, crisper, and extra tempting than summer fare.

Ghevar, Rajasthan

Ghevar is a traditional sweet that originated from Rajasthan

Ghevar is a traditional sweet that originated from RajasthanImage courtesy: ©Pooja Barua/Shutterstock.com

When it pours, it is time to leave the guilt behind and bite into one of India’s most delectable sweets called ghevar. An unusual texture like a honeycomb it’s made of flour and milk, fried in ghee then dunked in sugar syrup. Shops across Rajasthan offer this sinful sweet around the Teej festival. Laxmi Misthan Bhandar in Jaipur, one of the oldest mitthai shops in the city, has been selling ghevar since the 18th century.

Makai No Chevdo, Gujarat

Gujarat is famous for its many mouth-watering snacks

Gujarat is famous for its many mouth-watering snacksImage courtesy: ©JD Phote/Shutterstock.com

Eating corn on the cob (bhutta) from the street vendor with a sprinkle of masala and lime is popular during monsoons when bumper corn harvests arrive. But Gujarat serves it up differently. Makai no chevdo is steamed corn kernels that are tossed with toasted peanuts, chillies, and sprinkled with masala and sev. You will see it flying off carts in Ahmedabad but it is easy to make this apt monsoon snack at home.

Malpua, North India

Malpua is an Indian pancake served with rabri

Malpua is an Indian pancake served with rabriImage courtesy: ©Snehal Jeevan Pailkar/Shutterstock.com

When flour, khoya, dry fruits, sugar, and ghee all combine to make a rich pancake, how can it not be delicious? Eaten with rabri, this deep-fried sweet is traditionally cooked twice a year – around the festival of Holi and when the rains arrive. While most sweet shops in north India serve malpua, the best ones are usually prepared at home. Fry it a bit longer so that it becomes crisp around the edges while the centre remains soft.

Kismoor, Goa

Dried prawns are a popular ingredient in the Konkan region

Dried prawns are a popular ingredient in the Konkan regionImage courtesy: ©Santhosh Varghese/Shutterstock.com

Fishing is not allowed in the monsoon season, but Goans cannot do without seafood, so how do they satisfy their craving? They stock up on extra shrimp or mackerel in summer, salt and sun-dry it. It’s then tossed up in salads typically with tamarind, coconut, onions, and chillies with a dash of lime. It’s crunchy, sour – almost like a seafood bhelpuri. It’s also prepared with prawns, bitter gourd, jackfruit stem, and beans.

Rushichi Bhaji, Maharashtra

Rushichi Bhaji is made with yam and many other vegetables

Rushichi Bhaji is made with yam and many other vegetablesImage courtesy: ©grey color/Shutterstock.com

Monsoons signal the start of the festive season and one dish that is prepared extensively across Maharashtra on the second day of Ganesh Chaturthi is rushichi bhaji – a concoction of seasonal vegetables like yam, green banana, corn, amaranth stems, and arbi. It is a one-pot dish that’s slow-cooked without onions and garlic. Instead, its distinct flavours come from tamarind, coconut, jaggery, and green chillies. Some chefs liken it to the English potpie. It is typically not served in restaurants but The Bombay Canteen in Mumbai did their version of rushichi bhaji in their monsoon special menu last year.

Fiddlehead Fern, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh

Fiddlehead fern is delicious and nutritious

Fiddlehead fern is delicious and nutritiousImage courtesy: ©Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

Call it lungru, linguda, lingud, kutelda, or karsod – this healthy fern is high in antioxidants and fibres, grows abundantly in the Himalayan region, and is plucked in the monsoons. Many households in Uttarakhand and Himachal cook it as a simple vegetable without adding too many spices to preserve its nutritional value. The fern can also be used in salads or even turned into a pickle. It is served as part of the Himachali dham during this season.

Khichuri, West Bengal

Khichuri is prepared with simple ingredients like dal and rice

Khichuri is prepared with simple ingredients like dal and riceImage courtesy: ©Riya Sarkar/Shutterstock.com

Bengali people will agree that the first dish they eat when it rains is ‘Khichuri’. The mix of dal, rice, a few veggies with a dollop of ghee is true comfort food. The accompaniments matter even more – pickle, fried pappad and fritters called bhaja – it can be potato, eggplant, or even egg. Restaurants in Kolkata include this in their menu during the monsoon season.

Ilish Maach, West Bengal

Most Bengali food is prepared using mustard

Most Bengali food is prepared using mustardImage courtesy: ©Kingsly/Shutterstock.com

Like Goans, Bengali people love their fish and when the monsoon makes its way to the state; it’s time to tuck into hilsa, considered a delicacy. One of its most popular preparations, called sorsheIllish, is typically made with mustard and relished with steamed rice. Eating it is like an art since the fish is full of tiny bones.

Karkidaka Kanji, Kerala

Karkidaka Kanji is a herbal dish that helps boost immunity

Karkidaka Kanji is a herbal dish that helps boost immunityImage courtesy: ©Santhosh Varghese/Shutterstock.com

This porridge made of red rice, coconut milk, jaggery, peppercorn, cumin, and fenugreek, is widely believed to have healing properties as it is supposed to ward off colds, flu, and is also an immunity booster in the wet months. But a steaming bowl of karkidaka kanji, sprinkled with fried onions, is as soul-satisfying as it is healthy, especially when dark skies are bringing those bountiful rains.

AUTHOR’S BIO: Pallavi Pasricha is a New Delhi based travel and food writer. With more than 13 years of experience, she writes for leading travel and lifestyle publications in the industry and was the former Digital Editor at Lonely Planet India. More on: www.pallavipasricha.com

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Dahi Bhalle | Cooksmart | Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana

Dahi Bhalle | Cooksmart | Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana

This North Indian delicacy is a perfect side dish that can be easily prepared using some easily available ingredients in your kitchen. This curd dish makes for a nice summer dish which is easy to digest and is a delectable.

DAHI BHALLE

Ingredient

1 cup split skinless black gram (dhuli urad dal), soaked overnight and drained
500 gms yogurt
Oil to deep fry
Salt to taste
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp gram flour (besan)
¼ tsp asafoetida (hing)
2 tsps sugar
Black salt as required
Roasted cumin powder, as required
Red chilli powder, as required
Green chutney, as required
Sweet tamarind chutney, as required

Method

1. Heat sufficient oil in a kadai.
2. Put the grams in a large mixer jar and grind with a little water till smooth. Transfer the batter into a bowl, add salt and whisk well so as to incorporate air into the batter.
3. Add cumin seeds and raisins and mix well. Add gram flour and mix well.
4. Dampen your fingers and drop small amounts into the hot oil and deep fry till golden.
5. Put water at room temperature in a large bowl. Drain the fried bhalle and drop into this water. Add a little asafoetida to the water and let the bhalle soak for a while.
6. Put the yogurt in a muslin cloth, gather the edges together and squeeze out yogurt into another big bowl. This way it will be absolutely smooth.
7. Add sugar and salt to the yogurt and mix well.
8. Squeeze out excess water from the bhalle and put into the yogurt mixture and let them soak for a while.
9. While serving break the bhalle slightly and put equally into 4 serving bowls. Sprinkle a little black salt, little roasted cumin powder and little red chilli powder. Drizzle green chutney and sweet tamarind chutney and some of the yogurt remaining in the big bowl. Sprinkle some more red chilli powder and serve immediately.

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