13 November, 2018
In a vast country like India, it is but natural that we have changing seasons and the food habits of each region also vary according to the season. Typically, in North India, the summers and winters are both rather harsh. In South India, the winters are usually pleasant and enjoyable, while the summers are terrible, especially in both the coastal regions. Then, there is also the Monsoon to deal with. Hence, food habits in each of these regions change, when seasons change.
The food habits are mainly dictated by the need of the season, in terms of building immunity and keeping oneself warm during the Monsoons and the Winter. In Summer, the intention is to keep the body cool and hydrated. So let's explore the many different seasonal fruits and vegetables.
It is always best to eat the regular, local fresh fruits and vegetables in Winter as they help with nutrition, building up the immunity and also help keep viral infections at bay. The Winter vegetables that are most common are green peas, carrot, beetroot, radish, cauliflower, palak, pumpkin, sarson ka sag, methi, flat beans, tomato and a few other. These come fresh and beautiful and many of these can even be eaten raw as salads.
It is said that the vegetables in which the edible part is beneath the ground, are warming and hence, good to be eaten in the winter. This is perhaps why you have carrots, beets, potatoes, yams, etc. are included in the Winter menus. Besides these, people also tend to eat dry fruits like cashews, almonds, and dates as well. These are nourishing for the body, and provide energy and even digest well in winter. Certain spices like mustard, asafoetida, pepper, sesame, and ajwain are also included in the cooking during these times more than in the summer. Turmeric and ginger too are also added for their antimicrobial properties.
Meat, Dairy Products, And Others
Winter happens to be one of the best times to also eat animal foods like meat, eggs, fish as well as dairy foods like milk, cheese, butter, etc. Animal-based foods also help keep the body warm because of the nutrients and fats in them. The other foods that are suggested for winters are whole grains and pulses. It is said that these foods contain a lot of proteins and provide energy to combat the winter cold and maintain one’s health. You find a lot of dishes like carrot halwa, moong dal halwa, rava sheera, badam halwa, sesame-based sweets and savories, and rotis made from whole grains, etc.
In fruits, you find papaya, apples, oranges, sweet limes, guava, and strawberries are common. You also find corn as a favorite food during this season. Another food that should be eaten during this time, in some form is Amla or gooseberry. You can eat it raw, or prepare some dishes to consume this. They are rich in Vitamin C and will help boost your immunity.
You may add a few Tulsi leaves and Ginger to your daily tea for prevention of infections and fever. Ginger may be added in many forms to almost all dishes being cooked in the Winter for boosting immunity. Another food that you consume in Winter is Jaggery or Gur. It contains Vitamin C and a lot of minerals, especially iron and aids in digestion as well. It also works as a preventive measure against throat infections as well as respiratory disorders. It is also said that jaggery helps improve blood flow in the throat when you eat it and it also provided enough calories to keep the body warm. Ayurveda says that jaggery improves metabolism in the body and hence it is a Winter food. You could just eat it as is in small nibbles or the better way would be to incorporate it into your dishes, especially some sweet dishes. The til/groundnut/gur combination is something commonly used during this season.
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