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Delicious reasons to eat seasonal

THE ASIAN AGE. | PRATYUSHA CHATTERJEE
Published : Dec 8, 2019, 7:39 am IST
Updated : Dec 8, 2019, 7:39 am IST

Winter veggies offer their share of goodness to your health and taste buds.

Ghutwa palak
 Ghutwa palak

Earlier, there existed the concept of ‘seasonal vegetables’, which were available only during a particular time of the year. Soon, commercialisation and the ever-growing demand for certain foods gave birth to the mass-scale usage of cold storage. However, one cannot help but wonder, doesn’t this take away from the novelty of eating food that is only grown or available in the winter? For instance, Kashmir has the harissa (a meat-based breakfast dish).

Shipra Misra, a food researcher and analyst at Daryaganj restaurant, offers some insight on the matter. She opines that we may, say, get frozen green peas in the winter, but we cannot be assured of their freshness. On the other hand, when we go and buy carrots — a winter vegetable — we can look forward to the tasty and juicy lot. Off-season carrots may do the job, but they do not satisfy the zeal of a true food lover. Also, expect these frozen veggies to burn a hole in your pocket.

Therefore, it is a great idea to cook food made using winter ingredients. Plus, there are health benefits to it. “In winters, your gut becomes slow either because of the weather or due to a lesser amount of water consumption. Your body needs a lot of iron during the cold as well. (Winter) vegetables help you to combat the odds and be at your best."

So, here are some ways to prepare a delicious meal for your family this winter.

Ghutwa palak

Ingredients

500gms spinach leaves
50ml ghee/butter
5gms cumin seeds
10gms garlic (chopped)
50gms onions (chopped)
25gms ginger-garlic paste
5gms turmeric

20gms tomatoes (chopped)
5gms green chillies
5gms coriander powder
5gms garam masala
2gms chilli powder
100gms grated paneer
20ml cream
Salt as per taste

method

Blanch the spinach leaves and purée them
Heat the butter and add the cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the chopped garlic, sauté until golden
Add the rest of the ingredients in order, stirring regularly
Cook the spinach till the raw taste disappears
Add the cream, leaving a little for the garnish

Carrot soup

Ingredients

1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp virgin coconut/extra-virgin olive oil
250gms carrots, peeled and chopped
Kosher salt
2 red chillies, seeded and chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1 one-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp curry powder
1 can of unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Crushed red pepper flakes, toasted sesame seeds, sliced scallions, and/or cilantro leaves
(for serving)

method

Finely grind coriander seeds in a spice mill or with mortar and pestle; set aside
Heat oil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped carrots, season with salt, and cook for 5-6 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned around the edges. Add chillies, shallot, ginger, garlic, curry powder, and preserved ground coriander and cook for 4-6 minutes, stirring often, until shallot and garlic are softened

Add coconut milk and 1½ cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender (total 20-25 minutes). Add fish sauce, if using. Purée with an immersion blender or, carefully, in small batches in a blender until smooth (make sure the small cap set within the blender jar lid is removed so that steam can escape). Season with salt, if needed
Toss sliced carrot with lemon juice in a small bowl; season with salt. Add a pinch of red pepper, a few pinches of sesame seeds, and a handful of scallions and/or cilantro leaves and toss to combine. Divide soup among bowls. Top with carrot-herb salad just before serving

—  Recipe by Chef Anas Qureshi From Molecule Air Bar

Smoky corn soup

Ingredients
200gms whole corn kernels
30gms butter
10gms diced carrot
50ml water
A pinch of sugar
A pinch of white pepper
Salt as required
10gms
cornstarch
2 tsp chilli oil
20gms spring onion

method
Start by taking whole corn kernels. Blend them in a mixer-grinder to make a thick paste. Transfer this to a steel bowl. Place a lid on the bowl and keep the bowl on burning coal for five minutes to give a smoky flavour

Now, take a pan. Add butter to it and heat it. Add corn paste, diced carrots and water to it. Next, add all the spices, sugar, white pepper, and salt as per your taste. Let it cook for 2-3 mins. Add a pinch of cornstarch at the end. Now, the soup is ready to be served with a garnish of a few drops of chilli oil and spring onion

Methi mutter mushroom

Ingredients

100gms fresh methi
20gms green peas    
20gms cashew nut    
3gms black pepper    
3gms white pepper    
1gm green cardamom
10gms khoya        
2gms green chilli    
2gms ginger    
40ml rich cooking cream    
20ml desi ghee    
2gms sugar        
1gm garam masala powder  
5gms salt  
80gms button mushroom  
20gms magaz
30gms onion  
30ml refined oil  
20gms tomato  
5gms cumin seed
For ajwain laccha paratha
80gms wheat flour
10ml refined oil
1gm carom seed
 2gms salt

Method

Rinse mushrooms in running water and get rid of the mud. Then, drain the water very well. Cut the mushrooms into cubes and keep aside. Wash the fresh methi leaves, drain in a colander and fine chop. Blanch the freshly chopped methi leaves, mushroom cubes and green peas separately
In a pan, heat refind oil and add whole cumin fry till the oil becomes fragrant. Don’t burn them
Add green chilli, ginger, onion and sauté till golden brown in low flame. Then, add chopped tomatoes. Sauté till the tomatoes become soft and mushy
Add the methi leaves, sauté well. Now add the khoya and black pepper, white pepper and cardamom powder. Add cream when the khoya is smooth, add white gravy. Mix well
Add the blanched mushroom and green peas and butter, cook for 2 minutes
Sprinkle sugar at last. Mix again, garnish with cream and serve with ajwain laccha paratha

— Recipe by Chef Ashish Singh, Dhansoo Café

Nyonya curry

Ingredients

50gms whole cumin
50gms coriander
5gms lemongrass
Lemon leaf 5gms
5gms star anise
Thai ginger
2gms clove
20gms garlic
60ml refined oil
350ml coconut milk
50gms onion
10gms baby potato
10gms carrot
10gms baby corn
10gms broccoli
10gms mushroom
4gms cinnamon powder
A pinch of turmeric powder
10gms sugar
Salt as per taste
Lemon juice

method

Start by taking a pan and heat it. Add whole cumin, coriander and roast it for a few minutes
Now transfer this to a mixer grinder and add 50ml refined oil, lemongrass, lemon leaf, star anise, Thai ginger, cloves, onion, 10gms garlic, a pinch of turmeric powder, cinnamon powder and blend it to make a thick paste
Now take a pan for sautéing. Add 10ml refined oil and heat it. Add 10gms chopped garlic and sauté for few seconds
Then, add the paste, coconut milk, boiled baby potato, sliced carrot, diced baby corn, broccoli and mushroom to it
Next, add all the spices — a pinch of sugar, turmeric powder and salt as per your taste
Let it cook for 5 minutes. Add a few drops of lemon juice at the end
Garnish it with spring onion. Your Nyonya curry is ready to be served along with some steamed rice

Angara hari mirch ki tikki

Ingredients

300gms green peas
20gms green chilli (feel free to increase the spice level)
300gms spinach
2 Green capsicum (medium)
200gms achari green chilli
Salt to taste
15gms chaat masala
15gms amchur powder
15gms dhaniya powder
30gms chopped dhaniya
10gms white pepper powder
30gms rice flour (if required)
2 tsp ghee
2 Small pieces of burning charcoal
Oil for frying/ sautéing/basting

As the winter sets, the local vegetable market flourishes with greenery. Blending the freshness of veggies with spice is what this recipe is all about. This is not a typical hari bhari tikki, but a blend of fresh green peas, spinach, charred green capsicum, fresh green chillies and a few spices, smoked with charcoal.  

You can have it any way you want: either sauté or shallow fry the tikkis. Another version could be to make a seekh out of it and finish it in the tandoor.

method

Start by boiling green peas in one vessel, while blanching spinach in another vessel. Remember spinach and all other green vegetables should be blanched instead of boiled. Add a teaspoon of salt and sugar in a vessel of boiling water and add the cleaned spinach leaves. As soon as the water boils, drain the spinach and shock it with ice water. Blend and then puree it, and then hang in a muslin cloth for the excess water to drain out

Blend all the ingredients into a coarse paste. Do not add water while blending it. Once the mixture is ready put it in a mixing bowl and add all the spices. Make a well and put two small pieces of hot coal in a cup and add 2 tablespoons of ghee and cover it

Allow the mixture to get smoked and then make round cakes and fry or sauté them. As mentioned earlier you could make a seekh out of it and finish it in the tandoor

You can now serve with fresh mint chutney and sprinkle some chat masala

— Recipe by Culinary Affaire

Tags: asian food recipes