Mumbaiites might not have the chills, but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying the season's delicacies? Sonal Ved serves dishes cooked north, south, east, north east and west of India, amid dropping temperatures, shawls, and mittens.
From Punjab to Kerala, Gujarat to Assam, every region has a special way to rejoice the coming of winter. While some do so by celebrating festivals such as Lohri on the eve of the winter solstice, some prepare dishes using winter's best harvest.
"Since the produce growing in each region differs, there is so much diversity in terms of winter-based delicacies found in India," says Chef Paul Kinny, Intercontinental Marine Drive. Take for instance the western states of India such as Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa where the markets get flooded with vegetables such as green beans, raw banana, red carrots and green garlic among others.
Similarly, if you happen to travel up north, you will see flashes of mustard leaves or sarson, turnips, sweet peas, cherries and apples in abundance.
"While most winter cuisines focus on including heat-generating foods such as dry ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, pepper and root vegetables into the diet, some regions also lay emphasis on heartwarming soups and broths," adds Kinny.
West: Undhiyu, Gujarat
100 gm raw bananas, chopped
100 gm purple yam, cubed
100 gm sweet potato, cubed
100 gm surti papdi
100 gm brinjal, cubed
3 green chillies, slit
1 Tbsp garlic, chopped
4 Tbsp oil for cooking
1 pinch asafoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
1/2 Tbsp sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup coriander leaves, chopped
1 cup bengal gram
1/2 fenugreek leaves
1 cup grated coconut
Salt as per taste
>> For the dumpling, mix Bengal gram with chilli powder. Add fenugreek leaves, coconut flesh and oil.
>> Add a few spoonfuls of water and knead the ingredients into a tight dough.
>> Take small portions of this dough and form round dumplings.
>> Heat oil in a pan and fry the dumplings. Remove from fire and drain on a kitchen paper Keep aside
>> For the undhiyu, grind chillies, ginger and coriander and keep aside. Add oil and mix it to form a thick paste. Marinate bananas, purple yam, brinjal and sweet potato in this mixture for one hour.
>> In a large kadai, heat oil and add all the marinated vegetables, fried dumplings and surti papdi. Add asafoetida, turmeric powder, carom seeds and sugar.
>> Add carrom seeds and check the seasoning
>> Continue cooking the undhiyu until the yam and sweet potatoes have softened. Add water if the vegetables haven't cooked well.
>> Finish the dish by sprinkling coriander, lemon juice and coconut on top.
>> Serve hot with fresh phulkas or warm rice and kadhi.
(Undhiyu by Vandana Ashar from Napean Sea Road. Pic/Neha Parekh)
North: Shalgam ki subji, Punjab
3 turnips, peeled
1 tomato, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin paste
1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 pinch turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp Punjabi garam masala
Salt to taste
Oil as per taste
>> In a pan, heat oil and cook cumin seeds until they begin to crackle.
>> Add ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, cumin powder, chilli powder to this and cook it further for four to five minutes.
>> Add tomatoes and cook until they soften.
>> Add turnips and saute for two to three minutes more.
>> Add 1/4 cup water to this and cover the mixture for five minutes. Add garam masala and adjust seasoning.
>> Mix well and let it simmer for five minutes further. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.
(Hemang Navlakha from Kalbadevi looks forward to making traditional Shalgam Ki Subji every winter. Pic/Bipin Kokate)
East: Kosha Mangsho, West Bengal
800 gm mutton
600 ml curd
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 tsp sugar
300 gm onion, chopped
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp black cardamom powder
15 gm coriander leaves
30 ml mustard oil
Salt as per taste
1 green chilli, slit
>> Clean and cut mutton into thick one-inch pieces.
>> In a bowl mix 200 gm yogurt, mustard oil, red chilli powder, turmeric and sugar.
>> Marinate the mutton pieces in it and let it rest for one hour.
>> In a pan, heat mustard oil and add onions, ginger and garlic paste, green chillies and cook the mixture over medium heat for three minutes.
>> Add mutton to this and cook it over high flame for two minutes, stirring continuously to ensure it doesn't stick to the pan.
>> Clean the marinade bowl and add the leftover mixture and salt to this and continue cooking for five minutes.
>> Add some water to make the gravy thin and cook until the mutton softens.
>> Finish the dish by sprinkling cardamom powder and coriander leaves on top.
>> Serve hot with puris.
(Recipe of Kosha Mangsho by Chef Paul Kinny, Intercontinental, Marine Drive. Pic/Bipin Kokate)
North East: Til Pitha, Assam
2 cups high gluten rice
1 cup jaggery
2 Tbsp black sesame seeds
4 cups water
>> Soak rice in water overnight and drain it the next morning. Grind the grains in a mixer until fine and keep aside.
>> On a hot griddle, roast the sesame seeds and pound them with the help of a mortar and pestle. Do not use a mixer as the high speed can burn the flavour.
>> Cut jaggery into fine pieces and mix it with the sesame seed powder.
>> Heat a griddle and spread the rice batter on it with the help of a deep ladle. While the batter cooks, place a small amount of jaggery and sesame stuffing on it and spread well.
>> Once the pancake looks cooked (not brown), fold it from both the corners and press it tightly and flip over.
>> Cook it on the other side and remove from fire.
>> Serve hot with tea as an afternoon snack.
(Assamese Til Pitha by Senior Sous Chef Pavan Chennam, ITC Maratha, Andheri (east). Pic/Shadab Khan)South: Mutton Ishtoo, Kerala
500 gm mutton cubes
2 potatoes ,cubed
2 onions, sliced
1-inch ginger, julienned
1 curry leaf
3 green chillies, slit
2 cups coconut milk
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup cashew nut paste
Salt as per taste
>> Boil mutton pieces in hot water and keep aside.
>> In another vessel, heat water and add potatoes to it. Once the potatoes look par boiled, remove from water and keep aside.
>> In a pan, heat coconut oil and saute cloves, ginger, curry leaf and green chillies.
>> Once the mixture begins to sizzle, add potatoes, mutton cubes and mix.
>> Cook for three to four minutes and add coconut milk.
>> Once the milk begins to thicken, add cashew nut paste and adjust the seasoning.
>> Mix well and let the ishtoo cook for a few more minutes. Serve hot with warm rice.
(Kerala Mutton Ishtoo by Chef Pawan Kumar Chennam, Senior Sous Chef, ITC Maratha, Andheri (east). Pic/Shadab Khan)