Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Seasonality of Indian Cooking


Suvir Saran
 Share

Recommended Posts

Indian music unlike most any other art form, is brilliantly gifted and evolved to deal with every subtle nuance that is external but can make great difference in the rendering, understanding and enjoyment of it.

Do you think Indian food is similar?

How deeply evolved is Indian cooking in regards to a seasonal approach?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What does hing (asafetida) in the spring do for you?

How do you use it in food?

What do you think it adds to a dish?

I use it very sparingly! You wouldn't want to add copious amounts of anything known as Dyvels drekk to anything you were about to eat, would you? (that is its Norwegian name). I usually let it dissolve in the oil or ghee as it cooks. I think it adds a very earthy flavor to a dish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What does hing (asafetida) in the spring do for you?

How do you use it in food?

What do you think it adds to a dish?

I use it very sparingly! You wouldn't want to add copious amounts of anything known as Dyvels drekk to anything you were about to eat, would you? (that is its Norwegian name). I usually let it dissolve in the oil or ghee as it cooks. I think it adds a very earthy flavor to a dish.

A pinch or two of asafetida can go a LONG way.

Like you, I add it too ghee or canola to add that very earthy aroma to my favorite dishes..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

traditionally, i think there was a lot of seasonality to indian food, and it came from more than just the seasonality of the fresh ingredients.

i remember being told that certain spices were used less in summer because they were heat producing, like soonth (i cannot for the love of me remember the english world for this) and others were cooling, an obvious one being mint.

i remember being told that jowar (all of a sudden i've forgotten all my ingredient translations, suvir, help?) was a flour that was considered good for winter.

i remember my mom lamenting that mangoes, which are considered very heat producing, especially the raw ones, were only available in summer.

i was alwyas heard that north indian food (all the cream) was heavier because you need more calories in cold climes. same for garlic.

i've lost a lot of those memories now, especially living in this climate controlled word.

i had a discussion about this with a friend recently who suspected that this notion of "heat' producing spices was an old wives tale. i don't think it is. it think that like medical sciences are now discovering the health benefits of indian spices, they will eventually discover their heat properties also.

i would guess, though, that a lot of that knowledge was built into the traditional recipes for the vegetables that are still, only available seasonally. at least some of the spices that were specifically used in curries made from a winter vegetable probably have heat producing properties.

a very interesting question, suvir, worthy of some research. and i wonder if other cultures have this same notion of heating and cooling foods in their traditional recipes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indiagirl, your memories are just like mine.

In fact Indians for the most part are still thinking the same way.

Produce, spices, herbs, seeds, stalks, legumes and other ingredients are only used by chefs once they have understood how they will impact the mind, body and soul.

I guess the very young may not be thinking that way, but I was suitably impressed recently when a very young friend of mine got married and came from India, she was telling me what she was cooking and she actually was thinking like you and I.

I shall come back tonight and add more to the thread. I am hoping everyone can share their own tales about these seasonal stories from grandma.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...

seasonal again depends on which part of the country you are talking about - the north has very defined seasons while the south has a milder climate the year round.

i do know that seasons dictate what comes on the tables of many if not all, north indian homes.

for e.g. your summer vegetables are ghia, tori, tinda and all the melons in fruits, mangoes.

Though carrots and spinach are brought in from other areas, as well as other out-of season fruits and veggies, I do know in our home kitchen carrots and spinach are usually not cooked in the summer.

There is some sense and truth prevailing in the use of seasonal produce. Summer vegetables are cooling. In the winter a dazzling array of vegetables come out - i cant begin to name them all but they are superb. And one eats all those spiced gurs and groundnuts for heat. (they are seasonal in that they are available freely only in the winter).

Again, bengali friends inform me tht they too have variations in diet on change of season. Could anyone elaborate on this?

A maharashtrian friend had an interesting point of view as to why North Indians are (perceived) to be so aggressive......they eat ma ki dal :)......it IS very very heavy and rich and so difficult to digest except in the winters......i cant vouch for the authenticity of this view though!

actually raw mangoes are used to make tht incredible cooling drink panna - so im not so sure if they arent out in the right season.

there is more memories on this tht i've collected but i cant remember it all at the moment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When you think about the origin of Indian classical music, it boils down to the basic of idea of expressing an emotion or state of mind. The composer/musician wants the listener to feel what he felt in creating the piece of music.

Indian food is the same way. Among all the climates and cultures on the Indian subcontinent Indians tend to eat certain dishes in certain seasons because of the dishes evoke a certain comfort. For example, as a young kid visiting my grandparents in the Amritsari winters, I remember sitting wrapped up in my grandfather's shawl while I ate a steaming bowl of kirchidi (sp?). The dish was a very heavy winter time dish. It evoked a comforting feeling just as the chef intended. Opposed to summer month instead of drinking water I would always drink a more refreshing cold glass of nimboo pani (lemonade).

I do think there is a seasonal approach to cooking in India no matter if it's in the North, South or Central India, yet much of the understanding comes from the consumer of the dish or as in Suvir's comparison, the listener of the music.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After the summer spell in India which spans March to May, the skies open up and showers cool down the earth. The first rains conjure up a evanescent aroma which has also been bottled as a perfume aptly named Mitti ( Mud).

It is time to let go of dietary controls and binge on Onion Bhajiyas/Pakoras

and coal grilled Corn on the cob with lime, salt and red chilli powder

There is a Sindhi version of Pakoras which is relatively unknown:

Sanha Pakoras

Mix little water+Besan ( Chana dal powder) with chopped onions, green chillies, garlic, ginger, anardana( dried pomegranate), roasted whole coriander seeds, cilantro and mint leaves, hing(asafoetida), red chilli powder and salt to taste.

Deep fry on low heat in large chunks about the volume of an egg. Remove before browning, let cool and break into smaller chunks about a table spoon each. Deep fry again on high heat till brown and serve with green chatni.

Hinging in the rain!

I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja

http://www.gourmetindia.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...