We’ve picked mouthwatering winter delicacies from the four corners of India, that you can make at home — if your traditional supplier has still not opened — to make sure you get a taste of the season!
1. Gaajar Ka Halwa
The sweet red carrots from the North are awaited each November with eager anticipation. They add just that touch of colour and taste to anything dish you use them for. Though it’s made through the year, it tastes best with red winter carrots. There’s nothing like good ol’ gaajar ka halwa to warm up our hearts.
2. Christmas Cake and Pudding
You can’t get better than homemade Christmas Cake, though there are a growing number of commercial bakers doing decent justice to it. The hallmark of the cake is three-fourth-months-of-rum-soaked fruit. But don’t let this deter you from trying it out at home. A mélange of nuts are added to the baking process contributing to its rich and delicious taste. The pudding is a concentrated and steamed suet version which is typically flambéed before eating. Paired with brandy sauce, it’s an annual treat that everyone loves.
3. Thukpa and Thenthuk
Thukpa is an Indo-Tibetan noodle soup with a flavourful broth and this piping hot veggie bowl is perfect to keep you warm and cosy. It has certain variants – the Nepalese Thukpa is spicy whereas some preparations are subtle with a dash of garam masala.
Thenthuk is a hearty hand-pulled noodle soup made from meat stock and local mountain vegetables. It is similar in taste and texture to the thukpa. Traditionally eaten to keep warm during the freezing winters of Arunachal Pradesh, this deliciously comforting dish warms your soul too.
4. Sakarkand Rabdi
Sakarkand or sweet potato rabdi is a winter speciality. It has significant nutritional contents given the generous amounts of rabdi, sweet potato, saffron and cardamom that go into it. It is super delicious and one can get away with indulging in rabdi at this time of the year.
5. Beetroot Thoran
Beetroot Thoran is a Kerala winter speciality packed with a whole lot of nutrition and flavour. Thoran is cooked with chillies and Haldi, and the beetroot is stir-fried along with the spices to complete the dish. It is said to be a winter dish because it has a perfect blend of sweet and spicy, which is just the remedy for the chills!
Hailed king of Kashmiri cuisine, this winter food in India needs several steps of preparation before being served. Consisting of minced mutton balls cooked in royal spices and curd, the savoury is generally served at the end of the meal in lieu of the dessert at a Kashmiri home or restaurant.
7. Gond Ladoo
Gond ladoos are traditionally made with ingredients like edible gum, home-made desi ghee, wheat flour, seeds and nuts like dried melon seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashew nuts, walnut, pistachios and kus-khus. Besides their aromatic taste, they are respected for their unique health benefits. From nourishing new mothers in their nursing period to helping one fight the winter chill, gond ladoos are made religiously in many households. Ayurveda touts gond as a booster of stamina and immunity, helping one keep away from falling sick due to cold and cough. It also is known to treat low Vitamin D levels in the body. A winter must-have.
8. Paya Shorba
A not-so-humble mutton soup, Paya Shorba is a non-vegetarian’s winter delight. Aromatic and flavourful spices added with lamb trotters in the soup is just a heart-warming dish. It’s super-easy to prepare and also makes for the perfect bowl of hot soup and is a favourite winter food in India.
Originating from Gujarat and Rajasthan, Raab is a nourishing drink made by cooking bajra (pearl millet) in ghee and mixing it with spices like ginger, ajwain and jaggery. Both ghee and bajra are very nourishing foods.
This finely ground wheat mixture with sugar or jaggery, ghee and almonds, is a heartening snack at the end of a long day. It’s easy to make, wholesome and delicious to warm you up in winter.
Ponkh is tender jowar, Surat’s best winter grain. In farms, the stalks are roasted with their cobs and then beaten to separate each grain. Find yourself an invitation to a Ponkh Party, where fresh cobs of jowar and served with a plethora of condiments or simply buy some tender Ponkh at the local market and use it to make a khichdi or salad. Sprinkle a bit of sev for that fun taste.
Undhiyu is deliciousness in a dish with Surti papdi, raw banana, sweet potato, yam, brinjals and fenugreek dumplings (muthiya). Simmered on a low flame for two hours and the end-result is healthy and heavenly.
13. Nolen Gurer Sandesh
A traditional Bengali sweet relished at this time of the year, Nolen Gurer Sandesh is easily prepared at home with just two ingredients: freshly made chana (cottage cheese/paneer) and nolen gur (date palm jaggery). Bengali style gurer sandesh is utterly soft, fudgy and melt-in-the-mouth dessert.
14. Sarson ka Saag
Healthy and delicious sarson ka saag, topped with homemade butter or ghee and served with makki di roti (flat breads from maize flour) is not only comforting but also warms up the palate as well as the body.
15. Lapsi or Laapsi
Laapsi is made from broken wheat and is mainly a breakfast food around India (with local variants). It’s also served as a dessert. Laapsi is called Kansar in Gujarat, Sindhis call it bhat, and in Goa its known as Doce bhaji. Made in pure ghee this is very nutritious and loads of dry fruits and nuts can be added to it during winter.
There’s something for everyone in our indulgent winter picks. Do you have any favourites from your part of India, which are easy to make at home? We would love to hear from you. E mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org