Eating and cooking are heavily dependent on the availability of ingredients. Cuisines across India are adept at utilizing fresh produce that each season has to offer. While the climate of the Indian subcontinent varies widely, for practical purposes the Meteorological Department recognizes four distinct seasons – Summer or Pre-Monsoon, Monsoon, Post Monsoon or Autumn and Winter. As home cooks who savour seasonal produce and spent our childhoods in northern India, we wanted to share the joy of seasonal eating with you.
Capturing the best of each season in one episode seemed like a gargantuan task. So we decided to break it into two parts. In Part One of Seasonal Eating we talk about the foods – fruits, vegetables, eating mores, recipes – that define our eating habits during the Summer and Monsoon. Listen now and join in the laughs, nostalgia and rediscover the bounties of food in Northern India.
Episode notes below clarify some confusion from the episode, list Hindi names of vegetables and fruits alongside their English names, some notable ingredients and terms used in the episode as well as recipes that are on the blog.
Two types of Gatte ki Sabzi?
In the episode Kanika mentions that there are two types of gatte in Rajasthan. Gatte are steamed dumplings of seasoned chickpea flour/ besan simmered in a yogurt gravy. Unable to recall the name for the second type made with whole wheat flour, she offered to check. That preparation is called Chakki ki Sabzi. The word chakki has two meanings. It refers to a grinding stone and also signifies a circular shape. So in this context, chakki literally means round dumplings! While we do not have a Gatte/Chakki ki Sabzi on the blog, we have one for Bhutte ki Sabzi – Curried Corn inspired by the same flavours and style of preparation.
Mujhe nahi khane tinde!
Names of vegetables mentioned in this episode:
- Aloo – Potato (also called Batata in some parts of India)
- Bhindi – Okra / ladies fingers
- Baingan – Eggplant / brinjal / aubergine
- Bhein / Nadru / Kamal KakRi – Lotus stem
- Dhania – Coriander / cilantro
- KakRī – Armenian Cucumber
- Kathal – Jackfruit
- Ker Sangri – Fruit and pod of the Khejri tree also known as Ghaf in the gulf region.
- Karela – Bitter gourd
- Kulfa – Purslane
- Kundru – Ivy gourd
- Lauki / doodhi / ghiya – Bottle gourd
- Parwal / potol – Pointed gourd
- Pudina – Mint
- Pyaaz – Onion (also called Kanda is some parts of India)
- Singhara – Water Chestnuts
- Tamatar – Tomato
- Tori / turai – Ridge gourd
- Tinda / tinde – Indian squash, round melon, Indian round gourd or apple gourd
Names of seasonal fruits mentioned in this episode:
- Bael – Indian Bael, also called Bengal Quince, is very common in the summer months in Northern India.
- Kharbooza – Musk melons
- Tarbooz – Watermelon
- Jamun – Java plum
- Phalsa – A rare and uniquely Indian berry, phalsa comes only in the summer. It is eaten as is or juiced.
Mango – the king of fruits and highlight of an Indian summer
Mango, rather, mangoes deserve a special mention when discussing seasonal eating. We did not get a chance to completely flesh out our devotion to this fruit in the episode. An Indian summer is incomplete without the consumption of mangoes from their unripe form – called Keri in Hindi that is used to make pickles – to the ripened fruit devoured in hordes at the peril of an upset stomach. But brave we must be for the sake of taste and satiety, for it only comes once a year.
Mango varieties – India has well over 200 mango cultivars that provide fruit from late spring–early summer right until the onset of the monsoons. Some varieties that we particularly enjoy are: Chaunsa, Dasheri, Langda, Sindhuri, Neelum (that’s the one Sakshi was trying to recall), Alphonso, Kesar, Banganpalli, and Anwar Ratol which began in Uttar Pradesh but after partition has become the highlight of Pakistan’s Mango season and diplomacy. In fact by the end of the mango season in India most mangoes flooding the market are from Pakistan. Read about it here.
Ways to use Mango – recipes & ideas from the blog
- Mango Basil chutney
- Round up of summer’s best Mango Chutneys
- Mango Avocado Fruit Salad
- Mango Slushy
- Raw Mango Chutney
Roohafza ki bottle hai?
Notable Mentions – seasonal produce and a favorite drink!
A fruit common towards the end of the monsoon is Alu Bukhara or Plum that is used in this simple, delicious chutney. Try it and tell us about your experience in the comments.
Mint and coriander – go to any house in the northern India, especially Punjab and Delhi, and you are bound to find a chutney using either or both these herbs. Simply blended together with seasoning or along with sliced of unripe mango (Keri), this is a refreshing chutney that adds hints of umami to a meal.
Roohafza – is a brand for a rose flavoured squash (drink not game) concentrate that is popular in the Indian subcontinent. It is extremely sweet with a slightly floral bouquet. Often used to make a chilled drink mixed in water or as a milk shake. So deep is its imprint that any rosy sherbet in India is simply called Roohafza.
Aaj kal kathal aa raha hai kya?
Commonly used ingredients:
- Heeng – Asafoetida
- Sarson ka Tel – Mustard oil
- Zeera – Cumin seeds
- Magaz – Melon seeds used to garnish desserts.
- Mangodi – Lentils like urad and moong are cooked and dried to made Vadis or nuggets that the can be used when fresh vegetables are in low supply. A mangodi is a dal vadi made using only moong dal. A common vadi used in Punjabi cuisine is the urad dal vadi often associated with the food of Amritsar.
Terms / Hinglish words:
- Desi food – Desi can mean a few different things. It can refer to people, place, clothing, culture and food. In this context it signifies a certain type of food – that from the India subcontinent, regardless of region and cuisine.
- Pakao – Hindi, it means to cook. But, can also be used as an adjective to describe a specially boring situation or person.
- Khao – Hindi, to eat, used as a verb and adverb to describe something that might be gnawing at your conscience.
- Mamaji – maternal uncle.
- Dadi – paternal grandmother.
- Nani – maternal grandmother.
- Masi – maternal aunt.
- PhaRī – Punjabi, one wedge of an orange, slice of a fruit or even a bite of food.
- Phulka – Punjabi word for chapati or roti.
Yeh toh bada tasty bana hai .
A selection of summer recipes from the blog:
- Karari Bhindi
- Bhindi ki Sabzi
- Badam ka sharbat
- Arbi ki Sabzi – Instant Pot
- Baingan ki Kachri
- Baingan ka Bharta
- Kundru ki Sabzi
- Sprouts – Tadka or Sprouts Salad
We’d love to hear from you!
This list and podcast conversation isn’t evenly remotely exhaustive. There is a lot more that hasn’t been mentioned but has certainly been enjoyed and consumed over the years. What are your favorite seasonal foods from this time of the year? We’d love to hear and learn from you. Please write to us in the comments here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. Wondering what those phrases mean?
Mujhe nahi khane tinde? – I don’t want to eat Tinde.
Roohafza ki bottle hai? – Is there a Roohafza bottle?
Aajkal Kathal aa raha hai kya? – Is jackfruit available these days?
Yeh toh bada tasty bana hai! – This has come out very tasty!