Menu for the Varsha Ritu
By Arti Gaur
India is a land of four seasons, rich culture, unparalleled wisdom, mountains and deserts, plains and plateaus, rivers and oceans. From snow clad Himalayas to tropical rain forests of Western Ghats, from the arid Aravallis to the river rich Bengal, India is blessed with all aspects of nature in abundance. The sons of this soil, the vedic seers had mastered nature in all aspects millennia ago and gave us diets, regimens and nature's bountiful resources to nourish us in all kind of climatic conditions and available plentiful in different regions.
Nature provides us with foods that are suitable to a specific region in the respective seasons along with alternatives in form of native herbs, fruits and vegetables that are suitable to the climate and geography. For example, mangoes come in abundance in summers and rains. Naturally hot in potency, they are seen to cause skin break outs, bleeding from the nose and stomach upsets in those who consume them without balancing its properties with what we call as antidote to a specific element. Nature provides us with neem fruit also called as nimboli in the same season to counteract the effects of imbalances created by excessive intake of mangoes in summers and rains. Imli (tamarind) and amaltas (cassia fistula) also come in the same season as an antidote to various blood impurities that are common during monsoons due to abundance of microbes and infection.
Seasonal diets and regimen prescribed by ancients were designed in consideration, what is available and suitable in that specific region. In the months of July and August, also known as Shravan and Bhadrapad (sawan and bhado), it is advised to keep the diet light, fresh, and combined with some amount of fat in form of ghee, oils and butters. As rains aggravate vata element, foods which are opposite in qualities of vata are advised. Grains like old wheat, suji, oats, grams, chana dal, arhar, gram flour, ragi are preferred to rice, barley, new wheat for the same reasons.
Seasonal vegetables like gourds (ghia, torai, tinda, karela), cucumbers, pumpkin, salad greens, brinjal etc are suitable in this season. It is advised to avoid curds and fermented foods as they again aggravate vata and kapha, the effects of which are often visible in increased joint pains, heaviness, lethargy, stomach disorders, and blood infections caused due to polluted water during monsoons.
Resorting to a diet of ghia, torai and pumpkins…what a boring thought!
Here's an interesting and inviting recipe for the monsoon that is not only healthy but also delicious!
Zucchini comes from pumpkin family and contributes to some delightful recipes. It goes well with our summer herb mint (pudina) and western herbs like parsley and chives, all of which aid digestion besides adding a burst of flavor to the recipe.
3 tbsp mint
3 tsp parsley
½ tbsp dried chives
2-3 green chillies
3 tbsp flour
5 tbsp Breadcrumbs
100g mozzarella cheese
1 egg, Salt and black pepper
(Cheese in the recipe can be replaced
with paneer and egg can be replaced with more breadcrumbs or refined flour (maida))
• Coarsely grate 3-4 zucchinis and hang in a muslin to drain excess water for about half an hour.
• Chop finely 2-3 tbsp mint, 2-3 tsp parsley and half tbsp of dried chives. (fresh chives are not available in this season in India, unless they are genetically engineered).
• Chopped green chillies can be added, if you'd like some in the tikkis(cutlets).
• Cut the Mozzarella in cubes or make small balls of crumbled paneerseasoned with salt and black pepper.
• When the water from zucchini has drained, mix it with 3 tbsp of flour, one egg, chopped herbs and salt to taste.
• Vegetarians can replace egg with crumbs made of fresh bread, by grinding 2-3 slices of a day or two old bread in a grinder.
• Fill the mozzarella (or paneer) in this mixture and prepare the tikkis. Roll them in more breadcrumbs and shallow fry in a pan in olive oil until crisp and golden.