Mini Ribeiro tells you how to make the most of winter spices.
Winter foods can be guiltless pleasure. But indulgence apart, warmth is what the body needs this season and spices used well, can ensure that.
One can savour Makki Ki Roti with Sarson Ka Saag and pile calories too, but care must be taken to ensure that these are doused generously with spices, which provide antioxidants, vitamins, aid good health and keep us warm.
Spices and herbs can be dexterously woven into one's daily diet without seeming boring or forced.
One need not confine oneself to using a single spice in a dish. A multitude of spices may be used in one dish, but balance is key.
So, reap the health benefits of spices like nutmeg, mace, peppercorns, this winter, as you up the taste quotient of your meals too.
Mini Ribeiro shows you how five popular spices can be used interestingly in your daily food along with her favourite recipes.
Turmeric or haldi
An integral part of Indian cooking, turmeric, becomes even more important in winter.
Its antibacterial qualities help one to fight infection.
Apart from milk with turmeric, its slightly warm and peppery flavour, works especially well with winter vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes and root vegetables.
Adding a dash of haldi to a fragrant pulao apart from curries, works too.
I personally enjoy a roasted sweet potato and turmeric soup as it can be a comforting and healthy winter meal option.
One must exercise caution not to use excess haldi, as it leaves a peculiar taste, apart from the deep yellow colour.
Recipe by Executive Chef Ashish Bhasin, Trident BKC, Mumbai
- 250 gm raw turmeric (grated)
- 1/2 cup mustard oil
- 2.5 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 2 and 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (coarsely grounded)
- 2 and 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 2 to 3 pinches asafoetida
- 200 ml lemon juice
- Peel turmeric, wash and keep it aside for drying in sunlight for about 3 to 4 hours.
- Grate the peeled turmeric or chop it finely.
- Heat mustard oil in a pan. Bring it to room temperature and add asafoetida, fenugreek seeds, all spices and grated turmeric. Mix all ingredients well.
- Take this pickle in a bowl and add lemon juice into it. Cover and keep it aside for 3 to 4 days.
Note: If the pickle is soaked in oil completely then it can be consumed for up to six months or more.
The aromatic Cinnamon, one of the staples in every Indian kitchen, is a warming spice that stimulates blood circulation, thus inducing warmth in body. It also helps in strengthening the immune system.
A pinch of powdered cinnamon mixed with honey in warm water protects one from cold. But how about incorporating cinnamon interestingly in one's cooking? With winter, comes the festive season when cakes, puddings, cookies, galore, are consumed.
Cinnamon lends itself perfectly to desserts. The easiest way is to sprinkle raw cinnamon powder on desserts to enhance their flavour and enjoy its health benefits.
I can never resist a warm apple pie, replete with cinnamon.
While Indian cooking makes use of the cinnamon stick generously in pulav, curries and meat dishes, a comforting lamb stew, a lasagne or moussaka can also be made tastier by adding some cinnamon to it for depth and subtle flavour.
Tea Smoked Shrimps
Recipe by Paul Kinny, director-culinary, Pallazzio Hotels and Leisure Ltd, Mumbai
- 6 pcs medium size shrimps
- 10 gm sugar
- 10 gm rice
- 10 gm salt
- 5 gm pepper
- 5 gm cinnamon
- 80 gm Frisse lettuce
- 1 lime
- 40 gm red bell pepper
- 40 gm yellow bell pepper
- 1 egg yolk
- 50 ml oil
- 10 gm tea powder
- Lay a silver foil on the non stick pan.
- Place rice, sugar and tea powder on the foil. Place a metal net inside the pan.
- Heat the pan on a slow flame. As soon as smoke starts coming out, put shrimps on the net and cover with a lid.
- Cook for three minutes.
- Check if shrimps are cooked and keep it aside.
For tangerine dressing
- Mix olive oil with egg yolk. When it emulsifies, add tea powder and mix well, adjust the seasoning.
- In a bowl mix frisse lettuce with julienne bell peppers, olive oil, salt and pepper
- Arrange the mixed salad in a long plate.
- Arrange the shrimps on top of the lettuce.
- Drizzle with tangerine dressing on top of shrimps and serve cold with lemon wedges.
Special Tip: Add smoke liquid to shrimps while cooking for extra smoky flavour.
This is abundantly used in winter in various forms. If masala chai with ginger, is every Indian's favourite during this season, be known this spice can be heartening in smoothies too.
A regular strawberry and banana smoothie can be perked up in terms of freshness with some ginger. That is usually my breakfast this season.
Ginger added to winter vegetables either in fresh or dried form can boost the palate too.
A dash of ginger added to winter squash with its pronounced sweet taste, compliments methi (fenugreek) and is a popular dish eaten in winters.
Add minced fresh ginger root to a soup, or ginger pieces to chicken soups and experience a new flavour. And for those who do not fancy the usual ginger in Indian preparations, play around with it in global dishes like, ginger and tuna confit or even in Pan Asian dishes combining it with tofu or a ginger fried rice or maybe even in a steamed chicken with lemongrass and ginger?
Meat lovers can relish pork meat balls with ginger sauce.
Adraki Keemey Ka Samosa
Recipe by Rahul Dhavale, executive chef, Westin Mumbai Garden City
- 500 gm mutton minced
- 100 gm ginger, peeled and crushed
- 2 black cardamom
- 1 bay leaf
- 2" cassia or cinnamon
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 200 ml oil + oil for deep-frying
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 50 gm ginger chopped
- 2-3 large green chilies chopped
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 3 large potatoes, boiled in salted water and crushed
- 60 gm green peas, blanched in salted water
- 3/4 cup coriander, chopped
- Juice of one lime
- 500 gm flour
- 3 gm ajwain
- 250 gm ghee or vegetable fat
- 75 ml ice-cold water
- Add mince in a clean coking vessel.
- Add whole spices and crushed ginger. Add salt and turmeric powder.
- Add enough cold water to cover and bring to the boil.
- Skim surface at regular intervals. Drain water and remove mince after discarding ginger and spices.
For the filling
- Heat 50ml oil in a heavy bottom kadhai/wok.
- Crackle cumin seeds and add ginger and chilies.
- Add mutton mince, powdered spices as well as salt.
- Add crushed potatoes, green peas and half of chopped coriander.
- Mix well and cook further for 6 to 7 minutes.
- Remove from flame, add lime juice and remaining coriander. Adjust seasoning.
- Mix and remove on a flat tray. Keep aside.
- Melt ghee/vegetable fat till liquid but not very hot.
- Sift flour. Add salt and ajwain.
- Make a well in the centre.
- Add melted ghee/vegetable fat.
- Mix the ingredients till it resembles bread crumbs.
- Add few spoons of cold water and knead lightly to form a semi-hard dough.
- Rest for 20 minutes. Keep covered under a cling film.
- Make small walnut sized balls from the dough.
- Roll each ball on an oiled surface into an elliptical (egg) shape.
- Cut into half horizontally along the centre. You should get two strips per dough.
- Keep under a moist kitchen towel.
- Repeat till all dough is used up.
- Take each strip and fold into a cone and place filling in it.
- Seal it using water and shape it like a samosa.
- Repeat till all strips and mixture is used up.
- Cover and place in a refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- In another deep wok or kadhai, heat oil till medium-hot.
- Remove samosas from fridge and place a few into this oil.
- Increase heat gradually and ensure they are cooked from all sides.
- When they turn brown, transfer onto kitchen paper towels.
- Repeat with remaining samosas
- Arrange on a platter and serve hot with saunth chutney on a nippy winter evening.
Sarson Ka Saag
Recipe by executive chef Naveen Handa, JW Marriott Chandigarh
- 400 gm mustard leaves (sarson)
- 200 gm white goosefoot (bathua)
- 100 gm spinach leaves
- 250 gm onion
- 50 gm tomatoes
- 50 ml mustard oil
- 50 ml ghee
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 10 gm whole red chilli
- 30 gm garlic chopped
- 10 gm ginger chopped
- 50 gm makai atta
- A pinch of asafoetida
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp green chilli paste
- 2 tsp kasoori methi
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- Blanch all the green leafy vegetables in water with little salt. Refresh in cold water to retain its colour.
- Strain the leaves and coarsely chop one fourth of the leaves with knife and rest put it in the grinder for paste.
- Heat mustard oil in pan, add cumin, red chilli whole, garlic and onion.
- Once onion is lightly browned add ginger and tomatoes.
- Add asafoetida, coriander powder and green chilli paste.
- Once the oil starts coming on top, add makai flour mixed with little water. Cook it nicely.
- Add coarsely chopped leaves along with ground leaves paste.
- Cook everything nicely for approximately one hour.
- Finish it with kasoori methi and ghee.
- Serve along with makai ki roti (stuffed with grated radish), white butter or jaggery
Tomato Pepper Rasam
Image: ratna rajaiah/Creative Commons
Recipe by Sunit Sharma, Executive Chef, Cidade de Goa
- 1 cup tomatoes chopped
- 2 cup tomato puree
- 1 cup tamarind pulp
- 1 tbsp garlic chopped
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp black pepper crushed
- 1/4 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp coriander powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp refined oil
- A pinch of asafetida
- 12 to 15 curry leaves
- 10 coriander leaves (for garnish)
- Salt to taste
- In a thick bottom pan, heat the oil and crackle cumin seeds.
- Add curry leaves and chopped garlic.
- Sauté garlic till slightly brown.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, sauté till it is fully cooked and oil oozes out.
- Add dry spices -- turmeric, red chilli powder and coriander powder, a large pinch of salt and asafoetida.
- Sauté well to get a nice aroma and add tomato puree.
- Add approximately one litre water and bring to boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add crushed peppercorns.
- Strain with a thick sieve to remove most of the coarse and large particles.
- Check seasoning and serve hot garnished with chopped coriander leaves.
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