To some, winter food is just about beating the chill with hot soups and beverages or alcoholic drinks. For many others, this is the best time of the year to gorge on freshly made gajar ka halwa. For die-hard foodies, winter signifies an abundance of fruits and vegetables, which can be used in a variety of dishes ranging from soups to bhajiyas and parathas.
Fruits like strawberry, apples, oranges and berries, root vegetables like turnips and a variety of green vegetables are all around, tempting one to innovate new dishes. Also, eating a host of different coloured veggies and fruits, which is possible only in winter, is said to boost one's immunity. Not only are these vegetables very easy to cook and flavoursome, but are also high on nutrition and antioxidants.
Right from baby carrots, red radish, baby spinach, brassica, peas, turnip, sugarcane, carrom seed leaves, winter brings lots of interesting vegetables across India. Arindam Bahel, executive chef, Rodas in Powai feels this is the time to make stews and savoury pies.
Chef Ramachander of Mainland China uses some winter vegetables like Kale - a leafy vegetable, similar to cabbage and broccoli, Indian cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Pak choy - another leafy vegetable, the stems and leaves of fennel, and snow peas, in stir-fried greens. This can be used as a side dish with steamed fish.
Specially grown winter vegetables have given rise to the traditional Oondhiyu, which goes well with hot poories. Soam, opposite Babulnath Temple, serves scrumptious Oondhiyu. The diet Oondhiyu, is a steamed variety served with rotla. Fresh garlic is used to make another favourite, Lasoon Ne Vagharel Rotla - crushed rotla tossed with green garlic, onions and served with curd.
According to Chef Kedar Bobde, executive sous chef, Grand Hyatt Mumbai, carrom seed leaves, which are in season now, can be fried in batter and served with masala chai. Fresh jaggery made from sugarcane, available only in winter, is used to make gajak, besides rosogullas and other sweets. Green bajra and jowar, available during this season, is used to make nutritious khichdis.