Monsoon "the season when the cravings begins"Jul 02 2019
The light and hydrating food fundas of summers make way for hot and steaming snacks with the first downpour of monsoons. Amin Ali makes a dash for it...
Masala chai served in a kulhad with smouldering mirchi pakoras… a tried and tasted way to usher in the Indian rain! Other than getting soaked in the rain, who doesn’t love to soak in the aromas of monsoon street food staples? After a dry run on the food front through summer months, monsoon is the time to restart indulgence, suggest chefs and food bloggers. Here’s just what you need…
More than the food, it is the mood that enhances our appetite during monsoons says chef Anurudh Khanna of The Park hotels. “Rains let us get over the restraint that we practice during summers. Everyone is in a playful mood and doesn’t mind giving pao bhaji and aloo tikki a try,” he adds. That’s why, he feels, hotels should avoid doing a sit down menu for the season and focus on the fun element instead. Khanna suggests that eateries should incorporate popular street food picks as stalls at their venues and try to give even their western dishes an Indian spin. “A fried chicken baguette, fish toasties and fried corn done like pakoras should be the way to go this season,” he advises. The ingredient of the rainy season for Chef Manish Mehrotra is corn. “A simple bhutte ki khichdi with warm tea will immediately set the mood,” he feels. For binging, he suggests maple and bacon, basil and parmesan or sweet caramel flavoured popcorns as perfect bar snacks for the season.
Going all exotic with the rain grub is okay but restaurateur Puja Sahu — who runs an eatery serving Bihari cuisine in Delhi — says picking popular regional recipes can actually add to the enjoyment of rains. Her bets for the wet season are popular dishes such as pothiya (a finger sized fish marinated with gram flour and spices and fried in mustard oil to be had with banana chips), ghugni (a dry black gram preparation toped with spices, chopped onion and chillies as a bar snack), thekua (a wheat, jaggery, ghee and raisins paste fried in asli ghee). Menu curator Bharti Sanghi who specialises in vegetarian fare says simple Maharashtrian specialities like tendli subzi topped with peanut and garlic, kanda bhaji, finely sliced onion rings dipped in gram flour and ajwain paste and fried or cornflour crepes will make for far more enjoyable meals.
Monsoons also bring their share of hygiene and digestive problems. Choosing the right ingredients and preparing sauces at home could be one ways to overcome this problem, says food blogger Karishma Bhatia. “A lot of people stay away from packaged or loose sauces during this season due to health concerns. One of the ways to avoid it is by preparing sauces at home,” she suggests. Her recommendations for the season are rosemary hummus, yoghurt dill and basil or avocado pesto or guacamole sauce at home to spice up your salads, pastas and sandwiches. Bangalore-based food blogger Nandita Iyer says incorporating natural spices and ingredients such as ginger, garlic, black pepper or chillies that boost immunity and aid digestion should be used this season to beat indigestion blues.