Indian winters are short-lived but intense. The chill begins to intensify from November onwards in Northern India with December and January being the coldest months. The cuisine changes with weather and winter comes with its own collection of food to satisfy our increased appetite. We wait for the entire year for these seasonal sweets and vegetables that are best served steaming.
Gajar Ka Halwa
An all time favourite sweet dish from northern India that is not only served in parties but also with meals at home. Gajar ka halwa or carrot pudding is the specialty of northern India, a sweet that is often dripping with ghee (clarified butter), almonds and other dry fruits.
Gajar ka halwa was first introduced during the Mughal era and is still widely eaten in northern India and Pakistan. It comes in many variations. One of my favourite is the combination of halwa with cream or mava (khoya).
Sarson ka saag
It is said that your journey to northern India or Punjab is incomplete till you taste the authentic Sarson ka saag (mustard leaves) dipped in butter and Makki ki roti (Indian bread made of corn flour). Mustard flourishes across the farmlands of northern India in winters and is widely consumed. The Punjabi sarson ka saag not only has its unique taste but also is good to keep the body warm during extreme winters.
If you have friends, try having the home made sarson ka saag with makki ki roti in Punjab.
It is originally an aromatic lamb dish of Persian cuisine, but widely eaten in Kashmir. Roghan stands for clarified butter in Persian and Josh means intense. Thus Roghan josh means cooked in butter at intense heat. Roghan josh is the staple of Kashmiri cuisine and part of the multi-course Kashmiri Wazwan. The signature red colour of the curry comes from a liberal use of Kashmiri dry chilli that is de-seeded to reduce its intensity.
Roghan josh helps in keeping the body warm in winters and is often consumed with Khamiri naan cooked in earthen oven.
It is a traditional central Asian and south Asian dish consisting mainly of trotters (of hoof) of cow, goat, buffalo or sheep cooked in curry and various spices. The paya or trotters are known to have the quality of keeping the body warm in winters. It is also known as Nihari and is slow cooked over medium fire and served with Khamiri naan.
Gaund ke laddoo
It is an indigenous alternative to medicinal supplements and vitamins that keep us away from winter diseases. Gaund is an edible gum pulled out from the bark of a tree and available in crystal form as pearly yellowish pieces of various sizes. Gaund also helps in keeping the body warm. It is also specially prepared for pregnant women to help their body maintain the strength in bones.
So, the next time when you will be having winter special food in India, you will not only be savoring its taste but also knowing its medicinal use in remaining healthy.