Desi soups to beat the winter chill
Feeling under the weather? These nutritious, easy-to-make soups will warm your body and soulUpdated: Dec 14, 2019 20:15 IST
As winter sets in, try your hand at desi soups this year. They’re nutritious, soothing, easy to make. “They tend to contain anti-inflammatory agents like ginger, black pepper and cumin, and since the bad microbes in our gut thrive on inflammation, these spices indirectly boost immunity and help replenish healthy gut bacteria,” says nutritionist Munmun Ganeriwal.
Kashmiri Turnip Soup
The principle ingredient — turnips — are high in fiber, low in calories and rich in calcium, phosphorous and iron. “Our version is inspired by the Kashmiri winter turnips and also celebrates fresh fennel fronds, which are currently in season,” says Thomas Zacharias, chef and partner at The Bombay Canteen.
To make this soup, melt butter in a pot and add sliced garlic and six peeled, thinly sliced turnips. Add water; cover and cook for about 30 mins or until sufficiently reduced. Sautee asafoetida, fennel powder and dry ginger powder in mustard oil and add to the soup. Season with salt and sugar. Now blend into a smooth puree and strain. Garnish with mustard oil and chopped fennel.
Mizo Bai Pork Stew
This stew is intrinsic to the cuisine of Mizoram and is made using seasonal vegetables and pork fat. To a pot of water, add vegetables like cauliflower, peas, French beans and a pinch of baking soda; bring to boil. Allow to cook for 10 mins. Add pork lard, salt and chopped garlic. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve hot. (Recipe courtesy home chef Gitika Saikia, who serves it at her Assamese pop-ups in Mumbai).
Palak Moong Soup
Spinach is an excellent source of antioxidants, Vitamins A and C, iron and magnesium; moong dal is rich in essential amino acids, fiber and protein. “The green lentil and spinach soup uses local and seasonal ingredients that are available in abundance at this time of year. It is both nutritious and filling, and goes well with a savoury kachori,” says Vineet Bhatia, the Michelin-star chef at The Oberoi, Mumbai, whose restaurant Ziya serves it.
Start by sautéing cumin seeds, sliced ginger, onion, chilies and fresh coriander stems in oil. Add soaked green moong dal and water and cook till lentils soften. Puree and strain the mixture. Blanch 100 gm spinach leaves and puree. Add to strained dal mix; cook for a few minutes. Season with salt and serve hot.
Murunga Ila (drumstick leaf) and Coconut
This preparation has its origins in the Moplah cuisine of Kerala. “Drumstick leaves are high in iron and help detox the system,” says home chef Abida Rasheed, who hosts Moplah popups in Kozhikode.
Cook toor dal, sliced onions, green chilies and ginger in two cups of water. Add 1 cup murunga leaves, salt to taste, and simmer for a minute. Add half cup coconut milk and let simmer. Serve hot
Vepampoo (Neem Flower) Rasam
This is a staple in TamBrahm households. “It contains dried neem flower, which is good for the digestive system, and anti-inflammatory spices like asafoetida, pepper and turmeric,” says home chef Rumya Misquitta, who serves this soup at pop-ups at her home. (Don’t worry; you can buy the dried neem flower online.)
To make this rasam, fry the dried vepampoo in 1 tsp ghee till crisp; set aside. Boil tomatoes, green chillies, rasam powder, asafetida, turmeric, curry leaves, pepper, cumin and tamarind. Mash together and strain. Add cooked, mashed toor daal and boil well. Temper mustard seeds in a spoonful of ghee and add to the mix. Garnish with fried vepampoo.
Bonus tip: Make the real Kashmiri Kahwa
Add five crushed green cardamoms, a piece of cinnamon and a pinch of kesar to five cups of water. Brew the mixture on a slow flame until a quarter of the water is gone. Switch off the heat; add sugar or honey to taste. Add 1 tsp tea leaves, cover and set aside for 5 mins. Crush six-seven almonds and add to the tea when serving. (Recipe courtesy Jasleen Marwah, Kashmiri home chef and food history researcher)