Just as monsoon is a distinct season in India, the monsoon dishes have an identity of their own. Food and dishes just seamlessly make their way into every geographic and cultural aspect of this nation. The monsoon on one hand might seem a strictly physical and climatic condition. But it means much more.
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Significance of Monsoon in India
From learning about it in school to anticipating the onset of monsoons during the hot summers – Indians know and love the monsoons like no other season. Starting June there is a buzz as weather forecasts and experts begin their discussions. Farmers wait for the rains to see a good yield and the entire economy of the nation hangs in balance until the monsoons play their significant role. From school kids craving a rain holiday to office workers hoping for the same, the monsoons in India are a cultural event, as much as a geographical one.
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Not to forget the complications that heavy rains bring, including flooding, clogging, landslides and more. Monsoons are like the two sides of the coin. You never know which side gets tossed up for which region. Some areas reap benefits, while some might face serious challenges too.
Monsoons as a Cultural Bonanza
However, monsoons or the rainy season in India has a whole cultural side to it. Festivals are celebrated in and because of the rain and the monsoon season is also the time for some fun and authentic dishes.
Of course, no one can deny what a hot cup of tea and crispy pakodas can do on a rainy day. But besides these very obvious choices, different regions have cultural and traditional dishes that are associated primarily with monsoon and rains.
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Every region and state has its own specialty monsoon dishes. But again, these recipes are mixed and matched to fit and adapt across different geographic spaces within the country. Perhaps, it is the beauty of how nature becomes a part of the society and how the culture becomes a part of the geography that make this country and its people truly unique.
Monsoon Dishes of India
Let’s make our way through the different states of India and discover the wonderful rain dishes that are prepared.
This one had to be on the list! Pakoras are made all across the country and have umpteen variations and types. From professional pakoras that are made in restaurants to roadside stalls selling deliciousness, the pakoda is the humble dish that we also often associate with our moms and grandmothers. From potatoes, to onions, to chicken, to spinach, to raw bananas, cauliflower, the list is endless. All of these can be coated with besan, spiced up with masalas and deep fried for a heavenly delicacy. Similarly, pakoras are also made by grinding different dals, such as green moong dal pakoras or yellow moong dal fritters. Each has its own unique taste and of course, enjoyed best with a piping hot cup of tea!
2. Parippu Vada
Fried dishes may seem unhealthy, but on rainy days, they are discounted even by fitness freaks. The parippu vada is a south Indian dish, primarily from Kerala, made from toor dal and chickpeas, with added onions, ginger, garlic, spices etc. The fritters are deep fried and the result is crispy and yummy golden delicacies that can be enjoyed with tea, coffee or even plain tomato sauce.
3. Kuzhi Paniyaram
Continuing our journey down south, the Kuzi Paniyaram is a dish from Tamil Nadu. Also known as Paddu, it is made from rice batter. A special pan is used to prepare this dish, where the batter is poured into the dents and then scooped out and turned. The paniyaram is a healthier version as it is not fried, but slow cooked on the flame. Another tasty option to go with any beverage of your choice!
A traditional soup, the Aamat hails from Chhattisgarh. A nutritious and ethnic dish it is prepared from kareel and gondi, also known as bamboo shoots. Made from locally available ingredients, the aamat over the years has evolved. Today other ingredients, such as chilies, spices, curry leaves, cloves etc. are added to create a tastier version of the original traditional dish.
5. Bombil Bhujna
Made from the locally available Bombil fish, this Maharashtra dish is also popularly called Bombay Duck. Exceptionally delicious and often paired with rice, this fish curry will leave you asking for more. The fish is first marinated with chilies and coriander and then cooked to allow the flavors to soak in.
Here comes the pride of Rajasthan, especially for those who have a sweet tooth. Ghewar is not only a monsoon dish, but a traditional recipe that is prepared on varied social and cultural occasions, including weddings, festivals etc. This uniquely shaped sweet dish also has scientific advantages. It gives the body the required heat during the chill of the rains and also helps the digestion system. Lately, a number of variations of this traditional dish are popular, such as rabri ghewar, malai ghewar, chocolate ghewar and more.
Imagine jalebi but white in color. Charolia is a lip-smacking dish from Jammu that looks like a paled jalebi. However, its taste is not pale in any way! Made from a roti that is prepared especially during the monsoons, the dough is made from maida with extra water. The liquid dough is then poured in a pot that has many holes and hence the shape of a jalebi.
8. Singhara Sabzi
In Delhi and other northern areas of the country, the Singhare ki sabzi has quite a name. Made from singhade or water chestnut, it is prepared by adding mango powder, turmeric, cumin, mustard seeds, besan etc. This vegetable dish is good for increasing the immunity of the body, for we all know that the rains often also equate to catching a cough and cold. The ingredients of this dish are perfect to act as immunity boosters to help you evade the illness and unpredictable weather conditions.
9. Muya Awandru
A curry or gravy from Tripura, the Muya Awandru is a wholesome meal. With a rice flour base, the gravy includes fish, bamboo shoots, peppers, parsley leaves etc. The fermented fish called burma is often used in this dish as it requires no oil for cooking. This dish is not only tasty, but has a tantalizing aroma that is its main attraction. Often snails are also added to this dish.
10. Paa Saa
Another northeastern delight, the Paa Saa comes from the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Prepared by the Tai Khamti community it is prepared using minced fish. The Paa Saa is green in color and the luxurious texture and look of the dish reminds one of the green fields of paddy swaying during the monsoon season. The soup is highly nutritious packed with flavor and locally grown ingredients, condiments and herbs.
11. Nakham Bitchi
The northeast of India is quite a hidden wonder when it comes to its monsoon dishes. From Meghalaya originates the Nakham Bitchi which is one of the best dishes of the state. Spicy, tangy and a burst of flavors, this dish cannot be missed if you are visiting Meghalaya. Prepared from boiled and dried fish, vegetables and a whole lot of local herbs, spices etc. are added to create a bowlful of magic.
12. Roasted Corn
A yummy and quick dish, sweet corn and raw corn are often seen roasted on road side stalls. On beaches, in markets or on the side, the corn is turned and twisted on the stove until cooked to a blackish shade. Lime and some quintessential masalas are coated and what we have is a sumptuous and healthy bite. Corn is of course best enjoyed on a rainy day, for it fills the palate with warmth and comfort.
The monsoon dishes of India are traditional dishes of regions, states and communities. They are often prepared using the ingredients that are locally available. Also, there is intelligent reasoning for using those ingredients to prepare the dish. The dishes are perfect for the rainy climatic conditions and most of them build the immunity to avoid cough, fever and cold. The monsoon dishes are thus a coming together of traditions, science and culture that results in tasty and delicious treats.