Assorted regional culinary for monsoon lovers
Whenever the ‘season of rain’ or monsoon knocks at the door, we are tempted to get served steaming mugs of tea and hot pakodas (snacks made out of vegetables). It has become a kind of stereotype food for this season. But the fact is that Indian culinary traditions in the monsoon are far more rich and diverse which varies from one part of the country to another. The monsoon brings along an exciting buffet of flavours which entails peculiar seasonal produce & culinary rituals, regional masterpieces and luxurious festive treats. In most parts of the country, food habits are followed as per Ayurveda, the ancient science of food and medicine, which works on the principle of season.
A change in season is indicative of an alteration in the elements of nature. This has a direct impact upon the three elements or doshas – vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (earth and water). These elements are the constituents of the human body. Seasonal diets prescribed in Ayurvedic texts are designed to create a balance in the body and pacify the dosha aggravated during a particular season. The strict prerequisite of Ritucharya (seasonal guidelines in Ayurvedic texts) in no way stops one from enjoying the flavour or diversity of the season’s culinary catalogue.
During the rains, Ayurveda vouchers for foods that pacify the exasperated vata dosha and bolster the depleted digestive fire. Months of monsoon are prone to diseases and it is ideal to consume food that fortifies the immune system. Warm, spicy and tangy food (known to balance the vata dosha), spices that aid digestion and medicinal concoctions like the trikatu (a mix of dry ginger, black pepper and long pepper) or even a mix of amla and salt rock are encouraged.
In Kerala, traditional monsoon fare includes medicinal porridges like the Karakadaka kanji- rice gruel cooked in coconut milk, infused with medicinal herbs and spices like fenugreek, coriander and cumin seeds, dry ginger, cardamom, cloves, caraway and other rare ingredients.
A unique seasonal vegetable is the spiky teasel gourd that makes for tasty stir-fries, curries and crisp fritters. Known as kakrol in Bengal, it’s stuffed with freshly grated coconut spiked with pungent mustard or spicy minced prawns, dipped in batter and fried.
The long shelf life of edible roots and tubers like tapioca and raw bananas make them appropriate for the monsoon pantry because food preservation is difficult in the monsoon. In Maharashtra, wild greens like Shewla and Phodshi that have very distinct flavours grow in abundance in the forests and are turned into bhajis which are stir-fried and fritters. In neighbouring Gujarat, the flowers of Leptadenia Reticulata, locally known as Varsha Dori, is a coveted monsoon delicacy.
So, these are some of those numerous regional delicacies which serve the very purpose of being healthy and having tasty food.