Winter delicacies on your plate

Tangy or spicy, a range of seasonal produce livens up meals on cold days, and gives health a boost

A nip in the air, foggy mornings, extra-hot chai and delightful produce in the local markets, these are just a few perks of the winter season. It is often said that eating seasonal and native produce is the key to good health, as they are loaded with nutrients required by the body during the season. During winters it is imperative that we consume food that warms the body and provides the necessary nutrients to improve immunity and increase metabolism.
Here are some indigenous foods that are intrinsically associated with the winter season and pack a punch not only in terms of nutrition but also flavour.

A rhizome that looks like ginger but tastes like mango and is related to turmeric! Well, that’s the multifaceted mango-ginger for you. Aromatic, with a pleasant flavour minus the overpowering spice of ginger, it offers several health benefits, including for the skin and digestive system, and is known to relieve pain and inflammation.

Mango ginger pickle:
A marriage of myriad flavours, this one packs a punch in terms of taste and is perfect as an accompaniment to any meal.

l Mango-ginger grated: 3 cups
l Sesame oil: ½ cup
l Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
l Fenugreek powder: ½ tsp
l Red chili powder: 4 tbsp
l Mustard seeds: 5 gm
l Jeera, whole: 10 gm
l Urad dal: 15 gm
l Whole red chilies slit: 3 nos
l Lime juice: 15 ml
l Salt to taste

l Clean the mango-ginger and dry it thoroughly. Peel and grate it.
l Take a mixing bowl, add the grated mango ginger, red chili powder, turmeric, fenugreek powder, salt and lime juice.
l Leave it for at least 2 hours. Alternatively, you can transfer to an airtight container and leave it for 2-3 days.
l Take a saucepan, add oil and heat it on slow flame. Add urad dal, sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, then add whole mustard seeds, sauté for 1 minute and add whole jeera and red chillies. Cook it on slow flame until aromatic.
l Cool and mix it with the marinated mango-ginger, adjusting the seasoning as required.
l Serve with hot rice or rotis.

Raw Tamarind
Irresistibly tangy, raw tamarind is often referred to as the “date of India”. It has several properties that offer health benefits such as reducing blood sugar and improving cholesterol levels. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties too.

Raw Tamarind Prawn Curry:
A speciality sea-food dish made from wholesome, fresh ingredients

l Raw tamarind: 100 gm
l Prawns: 250 gm
l Curry leaves: 1 sprig
l Green chilies: 5 nos slit in half
l Ginger-garlic paste: 15 gm
l Chopped onion: 50 gm
l Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
l Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
l Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
l Jeera powder: 1 tsp
l Coriander powder: 1 tsp
l Chili powder: 1 tsp
l Oil: 75 ml
l Salt to taste

l Roast the raw tamarind on open flame. Cool, remove the skin and de-seed. Crush the tamarind and make a paste of it; keep aside.
l Clean the prawns and marinate with turmeric, ginger-garlic paste and salt.
l Take a pot, heat it on slow flame. Add oil, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Sauté for a minute.
l Add chopped onion and green chili. Sauté until the raw smell disappears. Add chili powder, jeera powder and coriander powder and sauté for 2 minutes.
l Add prawns to the pot, and cook on medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes. Then add crushed raw tamarind paste and a little water.
l Cook for another 10 minutes or until the prawns are well cooked and the gravy is thick.
l Serve the curry with steamed rice or vegetable pulao.

(Recipes by Varun M B Executive Chef Novotel Hyderabad Airport)

Green Peppercorns
Akin to miniature grapes, these pretty green ‘pearls’ on a vine are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. Fresh peppercorns help boost immunity and offer a whole lot of goodness. They are rich in fibre and have positive effects on intestinal and digestive health.

Mint and Green Peppercorn chutney:
A tangy, spicy preparation with an explosion of flavours, this one is perfect for burgers, sandwiches and cutlets.

l Mint leaves: 100 gm
l Coriander leaves: 50 gm
l Green Peppercorns: 10 gm
l Green chillies: 2 nos
l Garlic Cloves: 2 nos
l Fresh Ginger Slices: 1 tbsp
l Fresh Lemon Juice: 1 tbsp
l Jaggery grated: 1 tbsp
l Olive oil: 1 tbsp
l Salt to taste

l Wash and clean the greens thoroughly.
l In a blender, add mint, coriander and green peppercorn and blend well.
l Add garlic, green chillies, ginger, salt, jaggery, lime juice and olive oil. Blend until smooth.
l Check seasoning, transfer it to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

(Recipe by Chef Tarun Panjwani, Corporate Chef, FAL Restaurant Management, Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Makali Beru
Scientifically known as Decalepis hamiltonii, this root, also known as Magali kizhangu in Tamil and Maredu Kommulu in Telugu is endemic to peninsular India. With a truly distinctive flavour, makali beru is known to be good for bronchitis, anaemia, cough, joint health and even the skin.

Makali Beru pickle:
An aromatic pickle with a refreshing flavour, it is replete with earthy flavours and has a unique appeal.

l Makali Beru- 5-7 sticks
l Juice of 5 lemons
l Turmeric powder – 1 tbsp
l Red chilli powder – 3 tbsp
l Mustard seeds – 2 tsp
l Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
l Salt – 3 tbsp

l In a pan, dry roast mustard and fenugreek seeds until aromatic; grind to a fine powder and set aside
l Clean and dry the makali beru thoroughly and peel. Cut and remove the thick vein at the centre of the root and chop into small chunks. Ensure that it is completely dry.
l In a mixing bowl, add the makali beru, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, spice mix prepared in the first step, and salt, and mix well.
l Add the lemon juice and transfer into a sterilized / dry glass bottle that is air-tight.
l Remove small quantities for consumption, and season by heating in a pan and adding mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add a pinch of asafoetida. Pour the oil over the pickle and serve with hot rice, rotis etc.

(Recipie by Rashmi Gopal Rao)

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