Monsoon Carnival | Recipes | Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

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When you say monsoon, what does it remind you of? Raindrops falling on hot earth giving out heartwarming aromas that hold great promise of good crops, flora and fauna blooming and many more good things to come.

In India the monsoon season is nothing short of a popular festival. This much awaited season is welcomed with much delight. Especially since it follows a season of intense heat in most parts of the country.

In most parts of India the monsoon season stretches from June to September, peaking during the months of July and August when quite a few parts of country get submerged in rain waters. These are tiring times for the people affected by it and sometimes can put on a dampener on a holiday. Travel becomes difficult, and it can bring an entire city to near halt and people are housebound. But not always, travelling in the rains can be a lot of fun sometimes. Like a monsoon picnic, for example.
Though many people dream of enjoying hot pakoras, too many of them are not good. Instead you can settle for made at home chaats enjoyed over hot cups of masala chai.

Corn cobs roasted over coal fire, rubbed with salt, red chilli powder and lemon juice is something to die for especially when heavens pour down buckets of rains.

If you are still longing for cutlets and kababs, grill them in the oven with just a brushing of oil – believe they will taste just as good.

There are a number of fruits available during the rains, so make the best use of them. You can make milk shakes, fruit salads, fruit based puddings or better still enjoy the fruits just as they are. In conclusion I would say eat well, choose only healthy food and enjoy the rains to the hilt. 


Monsoon Mazaa!

Monsoon in India has its own story to narrate. This period of the year when it rains like it would never stop is also a time for a lot of significant Indian festivals. The downpour could bring huge bustling cities to a halt or it could bring on the cravings for spicy things to the forefront.

When rains come lashing down, the weather in an inexplicable way, it whets the appetite for chatpati chaats and fried snacks. These may be called as starters or an ice breaker for a party. These are finger foods usually served prior to a meal and may range from the very simple to the very complex, depending on the occasion and the time devoted to making them.

How better to spend a wet monsoon day than with a cup of hot tea accompanied by a plateful of hot and crispy bhajias or pakoras? And if you are looking for some more alternatives, I can suggest you some monsoon recipes that might please you.

  • You can have dhoklas made with fermented batters in a variety of combinations. They are healthy and when tempered lightly with oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves and sesame give a fulfilling texture that pleases the palate. You can have these with green chutney or with sweet tamarind chutney or the ubiquitous tomato ketchup.
  • Dosas and uttappams are great too, especially when you have them hot from the tawas. Top uttappams with onions or cashewnuts or tomatoes even with sev – they not only whet your visual appetite, they fill up your stomachs too. Hot sambhar and coconut chutney pep them up further.
  • Corn on the cob is a favourite monsoon snack. Have them roasted over (if possible) coal fire or even on the gas flame and sprinkled with herbs and spices. Or just boil the kernels, mix them with chopped onions and chopped tomatoes sprinkled with chaat masala and lemon juice.
  • Another favourite and wholesome snack could be ragda pattice or chole tikki. Top them with chutneys and chopped onions – they are absolute tongue ticklers.
  • You can always round off with a cup of hot masala tea or even a cup of hot milk lightly flavoured with dry ginger powder.
  • Try some crunchy cutlets doused in tomato ketchup, a piping hot soup or a bubbling pudding straight from the oven.

Monsoon Care

During this season, the temperature fluctuates between hot and bright sun alternating with an unending rain. A sudden temperature change can affect our immune system; hence we have to take extra care of ourselves during the monsoon.

Monsoon witnesses a rapid rise in cases of viral infections as low temperature is ideal for the spread and growth of viruses. Puddles of dirty rainwater breed germs, which give rise to a number of water-borne diseases. Summer dehydration weakens the stomach, which needs to be strengthened during monsoon. Here are some recommendations that will help you to enjoy the season by avoiding health problems. 

1. Monsoons usually see slack business for roadside vendors of foods like cut fruits, juices, snacks, fried foods, chaat, gol guppas, and water/milk based drinks. If you really must eat out -- choose a place known for its good hygiene and quality food, but try to steer clear of curd and curd-based preparations, salads, fermented and raw preparations.

2. It is also sensible to eat most of your meals cooked at home during the monsoon period. There is danger lurking in the water used outside as also other hygiene concerns.

3. It is also practical to be self sufficient in cooking at home considering that rains will sometime make you housebound. To satisfy all your taste buds it is essential that you keep the kitchen shelves well equipped.

4. Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself well hydrated. You could have plenty of boiled/filtered water. Lemonade, khus sherbet, and rose sherbet are all excellent cooling agents that reduce heat stress and are refreshing as well. Fruit juices rich in vitamin C such as orange juice or hot lemonade are recommended.

5. Take special care that your food is prepared hygienically. Tap water may be contaminated by overflowing ground water that gets mixed with it during the monsoons. Rinse your plates and dishes with filtered water before use.

6. Vegetables should be washed in clean water. Salads, rotten fruits or over ripe fruits are best avoided during this season. Steam your vegetables well to kill germs.

7. Clean leafy green vegetables several times over in filtered boiled water and steam them to get rid of any germs and bacteria.

8. If one feels feverish, it is advisable to consider a liquid diet like vegetable soup with garlic. It is then preferable to stick to light meals and avoid spicy and heavily fried foods.

9. Ensure that all cooked food is covered well to keep away flies and other insects. Freshly cooked food should be preferred, and it needs to be cooked thoroughly. Frequent power cuts, a common occurrence during monsoons could spoil food in the refrigerator easily, exposing it to bacteria.

10. Use filtered water for cooking, kneading the dough and for washing vegetables, dals and meats.

11. Avoid hot, acidic, sour and salty foods like pickles, spicy curries, chillies, yogurt, deep fried food, junk food and heavy sweets and desserts as they cause water retention, indigestion, hyperacidity and bloating.

12. Intake of non vegetarian food should be in moderation as they tend to get contaminated easily in humid climate. Especially red meats should be avoided.

13. Use ghee, olive oil, corn oil and sunflower oil for cooking as they are lighter. Avoid heavy oils like mustard oil, butter, peanut oil, and other heavy and heating oils.

14. Among fats ghee, olive oil, corn oil and sunflower oil is recommended instead of mustard oil, butter, peanut oil as they are heavy and heaty.

15.Heavy exercises like running, cycling etc. should be avoided. Instead yoga, light dancing, walking, swimming and stretching are recommended.

16. All vegetables and fruits should be washed thoroughly before using them, especially green leafy vegetables.

17. Avoid street foods however tempting and tasty they may be because we all know very well that these foods are not prepared in ideal hygienic conditions. Besides humidity breeds bacteria.

18. Keep your body and mind cool because emotions like anger, irritation, jealousy are heaty and can give rise to eczema, heartburn and urinary tract infection.

19. Avoid heavy food, instead eat light and easily digestible foods, boiled or steamed vegetables, steamed salad, fruits, khichdi, corn and oatmeal etc. 

Life is made when the rains bless our soil…as for the recipe repertoire, click away for some truly magical preparations for this monsoon!

Have a happy and healthy monsoon!!

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.