It’s time to bid a temporary adieu to your standard leafy greens—palak and methi don’t survive well in the monsoon, and the same applies to lettuces as well. Besides, Ayurveda recommends switching to easily digestible foods in the rainy season, advocating cooked, light meals over salads. In keeping with the seasonal produce, here are our top picks for July:
It’s time for this annual gourd to shine. A distant cousin of the bitter gourd, it is much milder, and is known for its antibiotic properties—a much-required nutritive element for the season! The Kantola lends itself beautifully to simple stir-fries to go along with rice or breads. It is also a great vegetable to make chips of—simply toss the sliced Kantola in a little oil, salt, and spices of your choices, and lay them down in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 170 degrees centigrade for 18-20 minutes or until crisp to your liking. Cool and store in an air-tight jar. Serve with a hung yogurt dip or munch on their own as you watch your favourite show!
Indian plums—small, deep pink-purple, tart and juicy, are now on every street corner. These are full of iron, potassium, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and B-complex vitamins, so they’re the virtuous fruit you should definitely consume. Add them to your smoothies and salads, eat them on their own with a sprinkling of salt and chaat masala, or use them in bakes—not only will they look gorgeous on your table but they will also ensure you stay healthy and fresh this season. You could also try making a chutney by cooking the plums with a little raw sugar, chili powder and saunf to go with toast (or even a cheese board).
The reason rice is prescribed as one of the first foods for toddlers and a nourishing food for convalescents is the fact that it provides energy and nutrition while being light on digestion. During the monsoon, our metabolism slows down, and grains such as hard millets and wheat are difficult to digest. Try substituting wheat rotis with rice bhakris (add 1 cup of any kind of rice flour to 1 cup of gently simmering water and a pinch of salt; then knead and proceed to make rotis the way you would make wheat rotis) or incorporate rice in one-pot meals such as Bisi Bele Bhaath, Khichdi, Pulao, etc. along with vegetables and pulses. Some kinds of rice such as red and black rice also work beautifully in warm salads with roasted vegetables instead of lettuces and raw vegetables.
Peanuts are an excellent source of protein. Around this time, the Rabi crop of peanuts is harvested, and sand-roasted peanuts or boiled and salted peanuts are a popular snack. It is also possible to use peanuts in main courses, however—cook peanuts in a curry with potatoes or gourds with mild masalas of your choice or with rice. Don’t forget to pick up a cone of roasted peanuts if you’re stuck in rainy day traffic!