For most Indians, food habits follow the seasons. The rainy season not only brings along the soothing scent of petrichor but a strong craving for piping hot snacks and warm drinks. After all, nothing matches the joy of indulging a plate of pakoras with a hot cup of adraki chai or freshly roasted bhuttas (corn) while soaking in the rain-drenched surroundings. Samosas, bhajiyas (pakoras), vada pav, instant noodles, chaat, steamed idlis etc are common rainy-day staples, but how about adding a twist to your regular monsoon menu and trying something delicious yet different?
With not as many people eating out post the pandemic, more and more people are experimenting with unique flavour combinations at home this monsoon. “People are becoming home chefs and trying different recipes. Good old pakoras are becoming interesting with people using unique ingredients like chopped pasta and grains like amaranth and nachni as additives to their batters. Instant noodles are being transformed into makhani, kadhai and schezwan versions. Popular snacks like roasted corn on the cob has taken interesting turns with inclusions like cheese and spices like biryani masala as toppings. Bread pakora is taking the gourmet route with fillings made of avocado and salsa as chutney. People are using leftover paneer tikka and chicken tikka as dosa fillings. Mexican food is a big influence with recipes like a tortilla bread filled with matar paneer, lauki chana, rajma masala being dried and enriched with cheese and converted into quesadillas or burritos,” says Chef Gautam Mehrishi. Wraps and rolls are a big hit too “Think wraps with all kinds of fillings and spreads like a thick dal makhani or chole wrapped in a paratha with chopped, boiled vegetables and mayonnaise.
For many, snacking has evolved from being a convenient and comforting experience before Covid-19 to a more food conscious and healthy activity. Yes, people are moving towards healthy snacking. “Wanting to eat healthy perpetually and avoid junk led me to experimenting with Surat’s famous tomato bhajiyas and create my own unique recipe of tomato bhajiya (pakora) chillas. These delish chillas that are made from bhajiya batter satiate my cravings for some deep fried food, minus the calories. It turned out to be a great guilt-free recipe that was tried by several foodies in the city,” says Surat-based food stylist Pankti Choksi. Roasted vegetables and steamed delicacies are other go-to snacking options for the health conscious lot. Also, all things ‘local’ and ‘seasonal’ are in demand. “Sweet potato is gaining a lot of popularity because of its health benefits. It is being used as fillings, roasts and in curries. Steamed food is also extremely popular because it is the new health snack or a sweet tea time treat for the monsoon, easy to make and one can take a steam bath too, great against the virus,” adds Mehrishi.
Pair your fancy rainy-day delights with fusion teas instead of the regular masala chai. Try concoctions with spices, citrus fruits like amla and orange peels in black brews.
“Fritters with tea or coffee go hand in hand just like bun-maska, burgers and fries, pasta and cheese, etc. Add a healthy twist to your corn fritters by adding three types of millets to it. Not only they are nutritious but millet flour adds a fine texture to it along with elevating the taste of the dish.
The monsoon brings on cravings for something that’s tangy and full of flavour! Kathal (jackfruit) Bhel is inspired by the street food markets of Northern & Southern India. It is perfectly apt for a rainy day and can easily be created in the comfort of ones home.
Kothimbir vadi, a popular Maharashtrian deep-fried, savoury snack is prepared from fresh coriander leaves, bengal gram flour, peanuts and spices. Give it a twist by adding a little rice flour to the same batter to prepare Kothimbir Vadi Waffles. Crispy yet healthy!