December 12, 2021 10:15:08 am
From the towering mountains of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, which get crowned with snow, to the fleeting winters of South India, the country awaits winter season with bated breath as it brings along the small joys of life. Besides the idle, slow afternoons spent with family, chilly nights by the fireplace, or piping hot cups of coffee with a book in hand, winter also bestows its gifts in different shapes, forms, and tastes in every part of the country in the form of food.
From the delectable and evergreen favourite gajar ka halwa to lesser-known delights like the harissa, here are some some delicacies from the length and breadth of the country that are only made and relished during the colder months.
As the bukharis and tandoors are brought back to life to provide much-needed warmth, Northerners also adjust their diet to make the intense winters bearable. From the vale of Kashmir comes a delicacy that gets overshadowed by the more popular rogan josh and yakhni, harissa. The crackling sound of hot oil pouring over meticulously pounded meat served with traditional Kashmiri tandoor bread and mutton kebab, harissa is a breakfast delicacy that is served in select eateries of Srinagar, and gets sold out within 10-11 am.
In Himachal Pradesh, the air gets thick with the smell of teliya mah and khatti meat. Teliya mah is a simple yet hearty dish made with just black lentils tempered with ginger, garlic, onion and garnished with mustard oil. This is eaten with rice and khatti meat which is simply mutton prepared with dried mango powder. While UP relishes its matar ka nimona made with fresh green peas, potatoes and spices served with roti or parantha, Punjab relishes on its sarson ka saag made with the fresh mustard produce from the region. Old Delhi’s labyrinthine alleys are brought alive with Daulat ki chaat or makkhan malai that is made from churning milk and cream.
The east awaits its winters for the sweet deliciousness that is enjoyed when the temperatures fall. Assam loves its hahor mangkho xoite kumura, duck meat dish prepared with ash gourd, and for dessert, there’s unending pitha which takes shape in the form of dumplings, pancakes or crepes and filled with jaggery, rice, flour, sesame, and milk. In West Bengal, too, people enjoy the pitha but with a filling of its golden liquid that flows bountiful during winters- nolen gur or date palm jaggery which substitutes other kinds of jaggery and sugar in roshogolla and sondesh during the short winter season. This can be eaten before (and/or after) the fluffy karaishuti’r kochuri (kachori made with green peas).
The brief and pleasant winter season down south is the only time to dig your fingers into kollu rasam (grounded horse gram made into a soup) in Tamil Nadu along with dappalam (a tangy curry made from seasonal vegetables and tamarind), and Kadamba Kootu that is made with 24 kinds of seasonal vegetables and lentils.
In the west, Rajasthan flaunts its millet produce with dishes like baajre ka raab, a healthy and hearty drink-cum-porridge made with millet powder. Baajre ka khichada served with generous amounts of ghee and jaggery is also enjoyed, said to be a shield against the dry, intense winter period. Gujarat’s undhiyu is its winter savoury delight that is eaten with dessert dishes lapsi, khichdo, and of course, the many laddoos like methi nu pak and kachariyu.
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