Winter foods at my home!

 Homemade Gajar Ka Halwa
Homemade Gajar Ka Halwa

Food that spells out winter at my home.

Early morning, Saurabh and I were standing in the balcony of our home and we saw a kid all ready to leave for his school downstairs. Dressed in crisp gray pants and blue-red sweater, his mother covered his head in a muffler before they both zoomed off on a scooty. The ‘winter uniform’ was out and, for me, that’s an ‘official sign’ of the arrival of winters in Delhi.

I remember, when I was in school, we could feel a slight nip in the air, October onwards. November 1 used to be the official date when we would start wearing winter uniform and it would go on till our annual exams in March. My point is – winters in Delhi were conspicuous. Sleeping on a cot in the verandah while soaking in the sun, munching on salty Peanuts or juicy sweet oranges, I loved everything winters offered – warm lazy afternoons and chilly nights and rich foods.

Every winters, like many Punjabis, my family too, gorged on Sarson Ka Saag and Makki Ki Roti. However, there were few other dishes that we cooked only during this season.    

Go Green:

Sarson Ka Saag with Makhan and Makki Ki Roti
Sarson Ka Saag with Makhan and Makki Ki Roti in my Grandma’s Crockery

Now I have spoken at length about Sarson Ka Saag in one of my earlier blogposts. It used to be and still is the star of all our meals, however, I equally lovedthe saag prepared using Methi, Bathua, Palak and even Mooli Ke Patte.

My Dad is a big fan of all these green leafy vegetables. He plays the role of that constant reminder in my life, who insists on talking about the medicinal benefits of each of these vegetables. Many-a-times, when he sees me eat soaked fenugreek (dana methi), he tells me to eat raw fresh Methi. He spends 5 minutes every evening, peeling and cutting radishes (plus the leaves), so all of us can eat it raw. Palak Soup is another favourite of his, and I too have developed immense love for Spinach in a clear soup.

However, for the main course, we prefer making Methi Aloo Ki Sabzi, Methi Bathua Ka Saag, Sarson Bathua ka Saag, Palak Paneer, Palak Shalgam and even Shalgam-Sarson Ka Saag. Unlike few other communities, we don’t mix our lentils and greens. But we make Aloo Methi Parathas and they’re spectacular. Have a bite of these parathas with fresh homemade curd and you’ll be in for a mouthwatering treat.

We have Bathua Methi ki Roti, the leafy vegetable are sliced (sometimes pureed) and added to the flour before we knead the dough. Trust me, any average Sabzi – Tarkari or Daal tastes heavenly with this roti. Sometimes, my mother smothers the roti with homemade white makkhan or ghee.

I am not a huge fan of Shalgam (Turnips), but if you cut them into dice and cook them along with a tempering of cumin, red chilies with spices it tastes good and if you add lightly sautéed spinach to it, it’s a match made in heaven.

So if you happen to have a Punjabi friend, ask them to treat you with one of these. 

Sweet Delights:

Around Christmas time, I remember the number of hours we would spend in our kitchen, taking turns to peel and grate all the Carrots. No, we were not doing mise-en-place for Carrot Cake, but Gajar Ka Halwa. The quintessential celebratory dessert in our home, during the winter time, as that’s the time we have the juiciest, sweetest carrots in the market. My mother never made this Halwa with Khoya/Mawa (split milk). She only used sugar, milk, carrots, cardamom, raisins, and cashews. Perhaps, that’s why, I never liked the Khoya and Dry fruits laden market version. Hence, I am always game for spending hours and helping my Mom cook it at home.

And for my Dad, no trip to Sabzi Mandi is complete without getting warm Peanuts, crunchy Til Patti, Moongphali Ki Patti and Gajjak.

Usually available in sugar or jaggery, my father prefers the jaggery one and so do I. These days I am trying to control my sugar intake, hence Gur Patti becomes my go to sugar bite. Jaggery is a great source of Iron and Protein and Til (Sesame Seeds) has supreme health benefits. These small round bites are my daily source of energy during winters.

And much before I had discovered Nougat or Energy Bars, I knew of Gajjak aka Gazak. Made up of Peanuts, Sesame and Jaggery, it has thin layers and breaks easily. I find them to be so addictive that I can’t stop eating it, once I start.

And I do love Moongphali ki Patti (in some parts of the country, it called chikki) however, I really enjoy the warm salted peanuts. They go very well with a glass of Whiskey or Rum and keep you warm.

And no Punjabi house in winters shies away from making Pinnis. Big round ball, made up of Wheat Flour (Atta), Desi Ghee, Jaggery, Makhanas, Flaxseeds, Almonds and Raisins, just makes for a delicious super food. Trust me, you have one of these delicious balls and you won’t feel hungry for hours.

Health Hacks:

Winter is time to take care of Skin, Metabolism, Bones and Diet. As, it’s also the holiday season I tend to eat more. I struggle to lead a strict disciplined life anyway. And to deal with all the rich indulgences, I try these home remedies and I believe that they help me be at mental peace.

I have Honey-Ginger-Lemon water, as I don’t like Green tea. I have never had Tea, so having this, helps me keep warm. It helps in digestion as well, and is a great source of Vitamin C.

I also have either Coriander Seed Water or Fenugreek Seed Water first thing in the morning. They help in keeping a check on my metabolism, cholesterol and sugar levels.

I have recently started having Turmeric Water, where I boil Turmeric root in water for 10 minutes and drink it while it’s hot. It helps absorb antioxidants in my system and if you want you can add limejuice in it and have it twice a day.

I am not a big fan, but I try to have spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, blackpepper and cloves, and my Dad insists it will help me boost my immunity.

I know the winters in Delhi are no longer what they used to be. The Pollution levels, Global Warming are making it impossible to enjoy this beautiful romantic weather. But instead of whining about it, I’d rather try to hold onto some good in the form of food offerings.

So these were my winter regulars. What are yours? Do let me know in the comments. It would be awesome if you can share some home health remedy as well.

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