Winter Delicacies of India offer a tantalizing glimpse into the rich, flavorful experiences that brighten your winter. Explore these delightful offerings below, curated and brought to you by Bharath Suthapalli
As we gear up our wardrobes to embrace the chill of winter and shield ourselves from the cold, it’s equally imperative to invite the rich tapestry of winter delicacies into our diets, fostering warmth from within. Drawing upon the wisdom passed down through generations, our ancestors ingeniously crafted regional delicacies using seasonal crops, resulting in a symphony of flavors that not only nourish our bodies but also evoke a tapestry of cherished memories. As we savor these culinary treasures, we connect with a culinary heritage that transcends time. Without further ado, here’s a curated list of 10 winter food that I wholeheartedly recommend you explore and recreate in the comfort of your own home, if possible.
Prevalent in North Indian households, the winter delicacy Gond Laddu boasts a nuanced sweetness and a remarkable nutrient density. What sets this dessert apart is its key ingredient, Gond, which introduces a comforting warmth to the treat. Gond, translating to “gum” in English, is derived from the dried sap of the acacia tree, imparting a distinctive quality to the laddu. Beyond its capability to keep the body warm, this dessert holds additional value as a nourishing post-pregnancy food. The preparation involves straightforward steps, requiring basic ingredients like whole wheat flour, nuts, jaggery or sugar, and ghee—making it an easily replicable delight in any home kitchen. Alternatively, these delectable laddus are readily available at local sweet stores throughout the winter season. Personally, I favor those from Almond House and Balaji Ratanlal Sweet in Somajiguda..
Hailing from Gujarat, Undiyu is a culinary gem, a one-pot wonder that brings together a medley of seasonally available vegetables. While at its core, it’s a mixed vegetable curry, Undiyu distinguishes itself through its distinctive cooking style and meticulous preparation. The term “Undhu” alludes to “upside down,” a technique where an assortment of seasonal vegetables is meticulously cooked in an earthen pot, infused with special masalas. This pot is then sealed and inverted, placed in a fire pit to slow-cook, lending the dish an earthy and rustic flavor that sets it apart. Undiyu is ideally savored with poori, roti, or rice. While replicating the traditional taste at home may involve some tweaks, those seeking an authentic experience in Hyderabad can head to Rajdhani Thali, Raj Thali, or Savla’s Home Food in Madhapur for a taste of this unique dish.
Sarson ka Saag & Makki di Roti
A quintessential winter delicacy in the northern regions of India, particularly popular in Punjab. This hearty dish is crafted from a medley of mustard greens, spinach, and other seasonal greens, providing a burst of nutrition during the colder months. Cooked slowly with aromatic spices, garlic, and ginger, sarson ka saag boasts a robust and earthy flavor that warms the soul. Traditionally paired with makki di roti, a cornmeal flatbread, this combination not only satisfies the palate but also offers a wholesome and energizing meal, making it a cherished comfort food enjoyed by many as they gather around during the winter season. Few places that I usually visit to savor this combination is Reshmi dhaba, Jaggi De Pranthe, Dildaar, Rotis, Dhaba Estd 1986, Punjabi Affair.
Daulat Ki Chaat
Daulat ki chaat is a unique and exquisite dessert that originated in the streets of Old Delhi, India. Also known as “malai ki chaat” or “Nihari,” it is a winter delicacy typically prepared during the chilly months. The dish involves a labor-intensive process where milk is heated, cooled, and then whipped multiple times to achieve a light and airy texture. The resulting frothy mixture is layered with khoya (reduced solidified milk), powdered sugar, saffron, and sometimes topped with finely chopped pistachios or almonds. Daulat ki chaat is served chilled and has a delicate, melt-in-the-mouth consistency. Its name, which translates to “wealthy snack,” reflects the richness and luxurious feel of this dessert. Often enjoyed as a street food specialty, it represents the culinary heritage and craftsmanship of Old Delhi. In Hyderabad this is often seen at Ones upon a time, Pink Elephant
Whether served as a one-pot meal or accompanied by other side dishes, khichdi is a versatile and nutritious option, making it a popular choice in winter across India. traditionally made by cooking rice and lentils together. It is seasoned with various spices and typically served with accompaniments like yogurt, pickles, or ghee. Khichdi is not only a comfort food but also holds a significant place in Ayurveda as a nutritious and easily digestible meal. In winter, khichdi becomes even more popular for several reasons like Warm and Comforting, Nutrient-Rich, Easy on Digestion, calming effect on the body and mind. Khichdi is versatile and can be customized with various spices and vegetables, allowing for a variety of flavors and nutritional profiles. I recommend having it at home and have it at your comfort.
Gajar Ki Halwa
The popularity of Gajar ka Halwa in winter is attributed to the seasonal availability of fresh, sweet carrots. Gajar ka Halwa is deeply ingrained in Indian culinary traditions and is often associated with nostalgia and family gatherings. Its preparation is considered an art, and many households have their own cherished recipes passed down through generations. The dish provides a comforting warmth and is often associated with festive occasions like Diwali and other winter celebrations. The rich, sweet, and fragrant aroma of cooking carrots and spices adds to the festive spirit of the season.It is not just a dessert; it’s a celebration of winter’s bounty and a delightful indulgence that brings joy to many during the colder months.
Ragi, also known as finger millet, is a nutritious whole grain that offers several health benefits. Incorporating ragi into your winter diet, whether in the form of ragi flour, porridge, or baked goods, can contribute to a nutritious and well-rounded approach to winter nutrition. As always, it’s essential to balance your diet with a variety of foods to meet all your nutritional needs. Ragi by itself is gluton free, Dietery rich, rich in iron antioxidatns calcium , low on glycemic index, complex carbs and most important gives you the warmth you need . My favourite way of including Ragi in my diet routine is by making Ragi Malt for the mornings or ragi cookies to pair my coffee or ragi mudda paired with any vegetarian or non vegetarian curries.
Using sesame, whether in the form of sesame seeds, sesame oil, or tahini, can offer several health benefits, especially during the winter months.Whether used in cooking, as a topping, or as an oil for skin care, sesame can be a versatile and healthful addition to your winter routine. Infact in indian tradition sesame oil is used for diyas during karthika masam which during winters. It has references in ayurvedha where it is mentioned about body warming properties sesame posses which is why its recommended to add in the diet during winters. Besides its rich in magnesium, calcium and iron . Also It’s important to note that while sesame seeds can be a nutritious addition to your winter diet, dietary balance is key. My go to way of including then in diet is by making tahini, Sesme laddu , Til chikki , chimili and often sprinkle toasted sesame on my toasts.
As a child, my earliest signal of the impending winter was marked by the appearance of custard apples and oranges lining the streets. Those nostalgic trips to the market with my father were a highlight, where we would seek out the largest custard apples, always insisting on the ones from Rajamundry for their unparalleled sweetness and creaminess. Accompanying these were the vibrant, vitamin C-rich oranges, a delightful challenge to select the juiciest ones. Fond memories linger of the playful banter surrounding the unintentional ingestion of seeds, followed by whimsical concerns about an imaginary tree sprouting from the stomach. Such moments, steeped in innocence and joy, remain etched in my memory.
Soups are a delightful and nourishing choice during winter for various reasons. The steaming warmth of a well-prepared soup provides an instant and comforting respite from the cold weather, creating a cozy experience that extends beyond mere sustenance. Beyond the sensory pleasure, soups offer a practical solution to hydration when the desire for cold drinks diminishes. They are a versatile canvas for incorporating an array of nutrient-rich ingredients, from hearty vegetables to lean proteins, ensuring a wholesome and well-balanced meal. Soups are known for their ease of digestion, making them a gentle option for the stomach, especially during a season when heartier meals may be preferred. The comforting combination of flavors, aromas, and textures in soups contributes to a sense of satiety, making them a satisfying choice. Additionally, many soups incorporate immune-boosting ingredients like garlic, ginger, and herbs, providing a potential shield against seasonal illnesses. Embracing a bowl of soup in winter not only nurtures the body but also becomes a culinary tradition, fostering a sense of warmth, connection, and well-being during the colder months. My go to soups are comforting clear noodle soup with lot of veggies, Burmese kho suey, tom kha.
I trust that this article has stirred up your winter season memories and evoked a sense of nostalgia for the cherished foods you once relished. So, embrace the kitchen, savor the aromas, and indulge in the joy of creating these delectable winter treats. May your home be filled with the heartwarming essence of these dishes, making this winter season a gastronomic delight. Happy exploring, and may each taste evoke the delightful flavors of winters past!
About the author: Bharath Suthapalli is a seasoned corporate professional and a well-known influencer who has a keen interest in discovering diverse cuisines, exploring new travel destinations, and appreciating the artistry of coffee.