“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food, and warmth, for the touch of friendly hand, and for a talk beside the fire. It is the time for home! “
That’s not the first time and definitely not the last when I am making use of this beautiful quote of Edith Sitwell in my write-ups on winter. It sums up my mood and conveys my feelings for winter so beautifully that I tend to use it so very often.
Being a foodie, I celebrate every season with much excitement and my foodie palate is all geared up for relishing different seasonal delicacies. However, if I am compelled to choose any one, I will be inclined towards Winters. There can be no season better than Winters to create your favorite food memories.
The weather is perfect for outings- long or short- with family or friends. These trips are a great opportunity to savor some regional delicacies with the appetite favoring your food adventures and neglecting any miscalculations. My persistent grudge with Summers is that my appetite tends to oppose even my slightest attempt of getting adventurous and I have to be on a constant vigil throughout the season watching my food habits with utmost care. Many of these food recipes has been obtained on such food trips. Before I make these recipes, it makes an entry on the pages of my food journal that I carry with me on these trips. This is why, I love Winters.
It’s that time of the year, when my family has many reasons to gather and rejoice. Several significant events like weddings, anniversaries, my nephew’s birthday, my better-half’s birthday and such other events provide us enough opportunities to come together and celebrate our togetherness. Our meet-ups usually mean gossips, late night chatter, a drive down to eateries that stay open at nights- relishing a Biryani or a cup of Coffee. Food is essential part of our celebrations. This is why, I love Winters.
On a personal front too, I feel this season brings in more calmness and serenity and one tends to stay more in control of themselves. The celebration of Diwali and its associated frenzy preparation gets over with no major festivals in sight for couple of months at least. Pranay has relatively quieter days in December as their US counterparts prepare for their vacations and as a corollary Indian IT companies have a quiet few weeks of lesser work. Temperature in Pune hovers in the vicinity of 12 degrees Celsius and I allow myself the leisure of snuggling in my quilt for few extra minutes every morning. I get treated with a warm cup of filter coffee occasionally on such mornings (My better half doesn’t mind spending few extra minutes in kitchen on such days.) On weekend afternoon, when the air is still nippy I prepare one pot meals and save myself from toiling for longer hours. Those saved hours are then spent seated on a Bean bag with my favorite novel or catching up on a missed blockbuster movie (we haven’t seen a movie in a theater for ages now). During Christmas and the following New Year week, we go out for our evening stroll and find malls and restaurants beautifully decorated and several fun events occurring in them. Warm clothes compliment the warmth in our relationship and it reflects in every small thing that we do together. One such fun activity being late-night baking! This is why, I love Winters.
On my family front, my father-in-law who usually does the weekly grocery for the family, stuffs his bag with all the seasonal produces and would ask us to make some traditional winter delicacies. So now, after all these years, we can anticipate both- what he is carrying in his shopping bag and what he wishes for. My Mom-in-law, who is an avid foodie and equally proficient cook gets rejuvenated in Pune winters. It reminds her of her childhood that she spent in chilly by lanes of the city Benares. Being a liberal foodie she is open to all kinds of food experiments that we often do in our kitchen, and spends equal amount of time in kitchen with me sharing her food tips, stories and real life incidents. Admittedly, food had a major role to play in establishing a connect between me and my in-laws. Cooking some delicious meals together, we share some crazy stories and laugh a lot. Hence, I love the winters!
Let me now talk about some of my favorite winter dishes that I can never imagine missing during these months. These are ‘Must-Make and Must-Have’ dishes in my home.
In this season, Red Carrots (Lal Gajar) make a grand entry in our kitchen and could there be any other preparation grander and more royal than Gajar Ka Halwa to celebrate its arrival. Though some may disagree with me on but dare I say this- Gajar Ka Halwa is a Jewel of Crown of all the Halwa recipes. My father-in-law shoulders the most tedious job of grating almost 1-2 kg carrots and hand it over to us!
Enjoy this North Indian delight that finds its place in almost every Indian buffet. Get the recipe
In company with Carrots, comes another equally favorite-long, tender and sweet Green Peas (Hare Matar)! With this Matar, we make one of the unmissable dishes that features in the regional cuisine of Uttar Pradesh- Nimona. This curried preparation of Green Peas is a must-have in an average UP household during winters. Green Peas are available in abundance pan India during these four months and if you have never tried making Nimona, here’s the right moment to start. Make this absolutely delicious preparation with Green peas in a green masala paste of Coriander leaves, Green Chilies, Ginger and Garlic. Find the recipe and make some spicy Nimona to accompany with a plate of hot steamed rice. (Tip: Nimona tastes insanely delicious when eaten the next morning)
Of the several anecdotes and stories that I keep hearing at my home, one funny bit that I remember now is of my FIL’s cousin who out of his sheer love for Green peas would often dream of these preparations. That sounded funny to me the first time I heard it. This brings me the second much celebrated recipe of Green Peas that is reserved for occasions of significance- Matar ki Bharwan Poori. You cannot afford to miss this stuffed Indian bread that is filled with a subtly spiced filling of Green peas and other spices. Make this delicious bread preparation to accompany with Veg Gravies or a bowl of Kheer. Get the recipe.
After a dessert, gravy and bread preparation, let’s turn our attention to those preparations that are favored by many-One Pot meals- in this case made from rice and green peas. Having stated earlier about my affinity to One Pot meals that saves me from toiling hard in kitchen and allow me more quality time with my family, here’s a recipe that is favored by all my family members. My Husband, who expresses a strong dislike for one-pot meal like Khichdi had initially come to terms and now started liking the preparation of Matar ki Tahri. Unlike the bland Khichdis, Tahri incorporates rice with lot of veggies and is subtly spiced, a taste that suits our palate. Tahri can be accompanied with a simple raita like or a Mooli-Tamatar (Radish-Tomato) Salad. Get the recipe and have an absolute show stealer in your culinary repertoire.
Besides elaborate preparation of Tahari, there exists a simpler preparation- Matar ka Pulao which is another winter recipe that is relished with great excitement at my home. It’s a mildly fragrant Pilaf recipe that incorporates some aromatic Indian spices and sweetness of fresh green peas with rice which is cooked with absorption method. Get the recipe.
Reading this write-up so far, I have figured out that I am missing out on a winter Bread recipes that forms vital part of an Uttar Pradesh household. Let me revisit those now before we go any further. While the recipes that we discussed so far have Green Peas in some or the other, the two bread dishes that I will talk about now do not feature Matar on the ingredient list. Chana Dal ki Bharwan Poori, or the way I like to put it is Savory Puran Poli (pun intended). Being a Maharashtrian I have grown up gobbling up tons of Puran Polis and when I was educated about Chana Dal ki Bharwan Poori, I couldn’t resist myself from drawing parallels between the two dishes. So while I took some time to remember its real name, Tikhat Puran Poli has stayed with me. Rechristening of this dish was appreciated at my home and sometimes jocularly we resort to this new name of the dish. Get the recipe for Chana Dal ki Bharwan Poori that is prepared by stuffing a mixture of Chana Dal and some spices. The dish goes well with Kheer.
Having discussed about half a dozen recipes so far, there are few more that needs to be talked about. These are Veg curry preparations that not only form a part of daily veg preparations but are also made on occasions of significance. One such dish is Sarson wali Aloo Gobi. Some vegetables are relished with great excitement as the winter seeps in slowly, Cauliflower (Gobi) and Potato (Aloo) being the two such veggies. Potato is a hugely popular vegetable in Indian Cuisine with a neutral taste that absorbs the spices and provides the desired flavor and Gobi is equally popular. The preparation of Sarson wali Aloo Gobi is prepared in Mustard Oil which is widely used as cooking oil in northern belt of India. In an average UP household, there is no custom of storing bottled masalas and they prefer grinding a fresh masala paste of Onions, garlic, Ginger and Coriander with whole spices on a grinding stone. This masala paste lends an amazing flavor to the dish and it is a perfect dish to be made with the Bread preparations that we talked earlier. Get the recipe.
Last month, we were in Mumbai for 3 days for celebrating our Grandparent’s 62nd wedding anniversary. Besides the fun and frolic that was part of this event, food was part of our excitement too. Our Kusum Mami from Benares had cooked a delicious brunch for us on our last day of the trip while we were busy packing our bags. She brought out those two dishes from her repertoire that are vital part of Benares street food culture- Rassedar Aloo ki sabzi and Hot Pooris. Such a pot full of flavors it proved to be. The emanating aroma compelled us to leave the packing aside and hop onto the chairs placed in front of dining table, for a culinary treat. Rassedar Aloo ki sabzi is a humble potato curry with the perfect balance of flavors – spicy, tangy, and aromatized with some fresh coriander. The tempering of mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds elevates this dish to a higher flavor quotient. Get the recipe.
We started this blog post with a dessert, went through Breads, One-pot meal and then veg gravies. My inclination for desserts will not let me end this blog without mentioning two more dessert recipes. We as a family have an uncurbed sweet tooth that needs some form of sweet to satiate after every meal. Sometime, planning a meal becomes a challenge for me, as I need to be wary of desserts too. If dessert is not up to the mark, then efforts of making other dishes would go in vain!
With winter comes Sugar Cane and hence the fresh and sweet jaggery is available in abundance. With this jaggery we make Bakheer– a mildly sweet Kheer preparation that combines Jaggery, Rice and Milk. Often, with just these 3 ingredients you can make Bakheer, but you may choose to add fried nuts and cardamom powder to make this version of Kheer more rich. If you have a sweet tooth and desire a variety in your dessert, we will urge you try Bakheer.
The last but not the least, this recipe is my personal favorite. It’s from the Khandesh region of Maharashtra Khapli Gavachi Kheer. This is a perfect recipe to be prepared in winter with goodness of wheat and warmth of Jaggery. It helps in generating warmth in body during these cold weather. Our first exposure to this dish happened way back in 2015 when we had it at a live food counter in BhimThadi Jatra. We have prepared this dish numerous times since then. Prepare this in your kitchen and enjoy a rural Maharashtrian dessert at your home. Get the recipe.
We hope you enjoyed our collection of winter recipes. This is going to be a ‘work-in-progress’ list which we will be altered on a frequent basis. Keep visiting this space for more such exciting recipes.
Enjoy these winter recipes while winter is here to stay for few more weeks. Let us know your feedback about this post and about the recipes in the comment section below. Your feedback keeps us going.