Eat Seasonal, Eat Local

Eat Seasonal, Eat Local

I never really was fond of winters. They’re just so cold, no? (Reminds me of Ross who doesn’t like ice-cream because it’s too cold!) They’re supposed to be cold I know, but that’s just me.

The one saving grace was food. And I’m not talking of Nawabi winter desserts like malai pan or malai makkhan I grew up on.

I’m talking regular everyday food.

Winter brightened up our daily dinner table

There was delicious matar aloo, my absolute favourite, peas and potatoes in a thick rich tomato gravy. Or we had peas simply sautéed with ginger and topped with lemon and coriander that could be had a side dish or a snack. Sometimes they teamed with carrots for the sweetish gajar-matar.

There was cauliflower made with potatoes or cooked elaborately into a dum gobhi. There were green chick peas to be made into an aromatic nimona or just roasted to be ready to munch on.

We had capsicums and tomatoes stuffed with paneer or potatoes and baked to perfection; not to mention a variety of greens – spinach and fenugreek and mustard greens made into a saag.

Even the salad dish looked brighter with brilliant white radishes, sweet with a tiny hint of bitterness, deep red beets, tomatoes and carrots.

There were peanuts to pass the time and til laddoos or gajak for dessert.

The rotis tasted better too. Besan ki roti with gur and ghee or makki ki roti with sarson ka saag were couples made in food-heaven.

It was such a relief from the entire gourd horde of the summer – bottle gourd, sponge gourd, bitter gourd, white gourd – lauki, torai, karela. Seriously!!

So why am I talking in the past tense?

Because it isn’t so any longer.

Now we get everything in every season

I find cauliflower throughout the year, the red carrots might disappear but the orange ones happily take their place and we have frozen peas if fresh ones get too expensive. And wonder of wonders I can even get kairis, raw mangoes, in December if I want to make a chutney.

However, it isn’t the same, is it? The peas aren’t as sweet, the carrots not so flavourful and the radish not crisp enough.

The other day I was at a hotel and they served watermelon for breakfast. I didn’t even feel like going close to it. Come  summer and it becomes the fastest vanishing fruit in our refrigerator. The Husband would go to the wholesale market and stock it up because we just couldn’t have enough of it.

There really is something to be said about having food in the right season. Click To Tweet

I’m not going to launch into a lengthy ‘Why’ of it because it is quite obvious. Seasonal food is fresher, cheaper, more nutritious and with fewer preservatives, as also so much more delicious, when had in the correct season. In the larger perspective, it is often sourced locally and good for your local farmer. Besides, half the excitement of it all is not getting it all year through.

And while on that, I have to take back the insults I heaped on the gourd family. They are perfect for the summer – cool and light and easy on the stomach.

It’s rather sad that the children don’t even know that specific vegetables are available in specific seasons, except perhaps mangoes. And that is why they remain an absolute premium fruit for them.

I’m no cook but prompted by Rachna’s recipe I tried sarson ka saag. It turned out really easy to make once I got all the ingredients together and absolutely scrumptious. Wonder of wonders, the children loved it, tucking into it with gusto, first with the makki ki roti and then with rice. It is set to become a regular at our table.

The makke ki roti looks like tiger pugmarks. I struggled to keep even this small a roti together.

Do drop by Rachna’s blog if you’re a non-cook like me and are looking for easy-to-make recipes.

Do you have a favourite food memory linked to a season? A favourite winter staple, perhaps?


Linking up with Shilpa for #FlavoursomeTuesdays

20 Replies to “Eat Seasonal, Eat Local”

  1. I have lived in places which has no winters! the temperature drops may be to 18, and that would be the coldest .. so winters is literally non existent. that said, I love sarson ka saag, and always go to a near by restaurant in Decembers.

  2. It is so hard to tell what is season anymore, especially when we get almost all fruits and vegetables all year around. As you mentioned, availability and price give us a clue.
    I’ve got gajar-mirchi pickle, ginger preserve and ginger wine (non-alcoholic) in the pipeline this winter. We non-cooks are doing pretty well with our experiments, aren’t we? 😉

    PS: I hope this is not a duplicate comment, Tulika.

    1. We are, truly. Thanks to finding some great recipes I’ve spent more time in the kitchen than I would have been tempted to. Gajar-mirchi pickle sounds good. I’ve seen someone pickle up ginger julienne too. Yum, they were.
      PS: Nope not a duplicate :-).

  3. Nimona! Ghugni! You gals leave my mouth watering already and some lovely memories keep flooding by. But yes you are so right Tulika seasonal fruits and vegetables are the best but here in Pune we get them all round the year though in tasteless forms. Also, I am sure I am trying Rachna’s Sarson Ka Saag

  4. Nimona? It’s been ages that I have heard some one say that out loud and by that you can imagine when I last had nimona. I love Ghugni too 🙂 We have to meet Tulika!
    I loved (can’t say that now cos been 12 years in Bangalore and no winters) winters and more so for the food. Your post took me to my grandparents house where we would sit around an angeethi and much on peanuts with kaala namak. <3

  5. Wow memories!!! Of seasons that were meant to be… MAtar and gobhi and the red carrots are all for winters. Damn! you get them through the year now . And the joy of waiting for them have been long lost. Thank God Mangoes are still meant to be in summers!!!

    1. Mangoes for us in the North came in June. I’m still trying to wrap my head around them showing up as early as April here in Pune. But still, it is good not having them crowding fruit stalls all year through, and not being half as delicious as they’re meant to be.

  6. Your post had my mouth watering at all those descriptions! Dammit!

    But you’re right. There’s something to be said for delicate flavours and seasonal vegetables. And what memories to go with each of them! Going to the large market to buy them in those huge baskets and lugging them back home. Then waiting for grandma or mom to dish out those delicious recipes. Kids just had to eat. Come to think of it, I still wouldn’t mind that. Can someone please cook for me? (Besides my husband I mean) The guy does a good job, though 😉

    Oh hey the saag looks good! The roti— it tasted good right? That’s what matters. 😉

  7. Oh! Tulika, thank you for writing this post. It’s been on my mind for a long time too. I for once and for the last two years or so have been sticking to my seasonal veggies. I so love winters for the plethora fresh, colourful veggies. I guess winter and I have a love-hate relationship. I love the winters food, the snuggles, the piping hot drinks, the curling up in a warm blanket with my favourite book. But what I can’t stand is the smog or the gloomy weather. It is such a downer.
    But I guess gotta live with it.
    Loved this post. And that Sassoon ka saag and Makka ki roti look scrumptious. Rachna is amazing and so are her recipes.

  8. Thanks for these delightful memories at our table Tulika. I’m sorry I’ve been a tardy host but I’m encouraged by your participation at our table to be even more particular about being there. And I do agree with you that getting ingredients all the year round do detract from the special feeling of eating seasonal vegetables and fruits but honestly, eating seasonally has a different charm all together. And now that you’ve mentioned it, let me get those gajjjars grated to have some halva this ‘mumbai winter’ evening.

  9. Ah! I have a love-hate relationship with winters. Love the food and the clothes that we get to wear and hate it for it is too cold for my comfort. 😀
    Agree with you. I prefer seasonal vegetables. I really used to wait for the gobhi to make its presence in the market around Oct. In fact, we used to start the gobhi season on Dusshera (nothing religious about it, just that a feast is made that day and gobhi is always on the menu for that day). And now it is available round the year. But it certainly does not taste that great in summer months. I loved Rachna’s recipe and I must make sarson ka saag one of these days too!

  10. The first part is exactly what my mother says and she says this too often. Leave aside the children, even I have to strain my mind hard many times to remember which fruit comes in which season except for mangoes. I am a non-cook and I have realized the only cooking blog I frequent is Rachna’s but that does not prod me enough to cook up new things. I will still cook the regular dal chawal roti sabzi. And my family is also such which says No Experiments, please.

  11. Your post reminded me of a time long ago, when I had been to Gwalior, my native place during winter. My uncle took me to the sabji mandi there and I was aghast at seeing all the beautiful, lush green and vibrantly colourful veggies on display! As opposed to what I saw in the Mumbai bhaji market, this felt like heaven!
    You are so right… the veggies that are grown locally, and are seasonal are the best for our health. It’s sad though, that many are unaware about it.
    It’s wonderful having you at flavoursometuesdays, Tulika! And, I loved reading your post, as always.
    But, it was really not right on your part to begin the post with all those mouth-watering dishes you mentioned!! Today, of all days, I decided to go easy and prepare just a thalipeeth for lunch, and here I read about aloo matar, and capsicum stuffed with paneer!! Oh, heaven help me!!

  12. Ah those delightful memories, Tulika. I have so many bachpan ki yaadein centred around winter food. Apart from the lovely veggies you mentioned, I fondly recall the gobhi, shaljam, gajar achaar and of course gajar ka halwa in winters. I am still waiting to source red gajar for it. Just can’t make it with orange carrots. So glad you enjoyed sarson ka saag and the kids did too. I am making it again today.

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