The monsoon season, especially in India, offers a large variety of vegetables. Everything is lush green, washed and wet! However, days of rain can make life a bit slow and dreary on occasion so what does one eat to cheer things up a bit? What’s good to eat and how?
Here are a few suggestions to make memorable food moments of those rainy days!
The Chosen Five
1. Bitter Gourd (Karela)
Bring on the Chips!
There’s a very simple way in which to eat bitter gourd. Among my personal favourites!
Just take a few bitter gourds and roughly peel/clean the skins. Slit open and clean the innards. Chop into thin roundels, apply salt, turmeric, pepper and some red chilli powder. Keep aside.
Fry in hot oil, after draining/squeezing out any excess liquid from the roundels.
Voila! Karela Chips for any season. Great as a garnish, a side-dish or just as a rainy day snack!!!! Chomp, chomp.
2. Bottle Gourd (Lauki)
Bottle Gourd is a super versatile vegetable and lends itself to the most delicious sabzis, soups, juices and fritters! My favourite are fritters, just right for a rainy day.
Quickly grate some bottle gourd – if you’re using organic chemical-free bottle gourd, you don’t need to peel it – into a bowl. Mix in chickpea flour, chopped coriander leaves and finely chopped green chillies, Add some cumin powder, coriander powder, crushed black pepper, a pinch of asafoetida (hing), some turmeric powder and salt to taste. Mix this to create a thick batter.
Drop in spoonfuls of batter into hot unrefined, cold-pressed, virgin groundnut oil and fry till done. Fritters should be small in size – fit into a teaspoon, so they cook easily. Stick in a knitting needle to test if cooked from within.
For extra crisp fritters, cut once-fried fritters into half and fry again. Take care to not burn the oil or the fritters.
Eat with green chutney – garlic, coriander leaves, finely chopped green chillies and mint leaves crushed into yoghurt.
Quick Tip: Run all the herbs in a mixer and blend into a couple of spoons of yoghurt.
Eat hot fritters with cold green chutney. Great with a meal or as an evening snack. Enjoy!
3. Pointed Gourd (Parwal)
Toss and Stir!
Cut the pointed gourds into thin, half moons – all you need to do is slice them across the long axis and then across the horizontal axis. Slice thin so they cook fast.
NB: Do not peel if organic and chemical free.
Toss the thinly sliced half moons into a thick-bottomed karai into some hot unrefined, cold-pressed, virgin groundnut oil (just enough to coat the veggies) and stir fry over a high flame till cooked.
Garnish with crisply fried onions. Eat as a side-dish with any meal. Enjoy!
4. The Humble Potato
Potato on toast!
Taters, as some people call them, are just everyone’s favourite. They go with any meal and are among the most versatile vegetables on this planet!
Here’s a great snack that can even substitute for a meal!
Boil, drain, peel and mash potatoes. Mix with white, unsalted butter, salt and pepper. Add in some finely chopped coriander leaves and crushed green chillies.
Toast a good quality bread, preferably a whole wheat or a millet or rye bread and slice thin. Crisply toast the slices.
Coat on one side with the potato mix. Pop into a heated oven for 5 mins. Your Potato On Toast is now ready to eat! Top with some more butter.
5. Pumpkin (Kaddu)
Soup for a wet day!
Roasted Pumpkin Soup is just what the doctor ordered on a wet and rainy day.
Cut the pumpkin into slices. Brush with unrefined, cold-pressed, virgin sesame oil and salt and pepper. Add some quartered onions and garlic bulbs, also brushed with oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven for about 15-20 mins, turning over at least once in between. Peel the onions and garlic.
Blend the roasted pumpkin, garlic and onion into a mash. Heat some white, home-made butter, add some flour and roast… add water to create a sauce. Add the mash and mix well. Add some milk to add mellowness. Heat the soup on low flame till it’s well cooked together. Drizzle with chili oil if you would like it spicy.
NB – Chilli oil is made by heating pieces of whole red dried chillies in a unrefined, cold-pressed, virgin sesame oil and left to cool. Stock in a bottle.
Serve hot with the Potato Toast mentioned above, or by itself as a great monsoon meal. Bon Appetit!