In some parts of the country, the monsoon has arrived already while in others, it is, literally, at the doorstep! Humidity levels are at their peak, and fresh produce is beginning to slowly wither out of the markets albeit temporarily. The monsoon will bring its seasonal gold, and until then we must use the weather as a great excuse to eat no-cook meals and simple, one-pot dishes that get cooked in a jiffy! Here are our ideas for this month.
Peaches and cherries
The Alphonso has left the building. Well, almost. It’s “lesser” cousins are still around but it’s only a matter of time before they all say goodbye for the year. Stone fruit—peaches, lychees, cherries, apricots, plums—these are the fruits of the monsoon. They’re rich in antioxidants and help keep your skin and hair radiant and healthy. They are also known to reduce inflammation and are lower in sugar content, making them a great choice for those who need to be careful about their sugar intake. Use them in salads with boiled chickpeas or kidney beans or make salsas. Smoothies, dessert toppings, and eaten straight out of the fridge are natural, fuss-free options, of course!
Bottle Gourd and Snake Gourd
All manner of gourds are considered good for this season, when digestion is slow. Ayurveda recommends cooking gourds with minimal seasoning and spices, preferably in ghee. A simple tadka of cumin seeds, dried or fresh green chilies works well in a gourd stew or stirfry. You could add some powdered spices, but if you’re looking for a quick and light meal alongside some rice and daal, you need little else. Bottle gourd and snake gourd also make for excellent steamed dumplings—mix the grated or minced vegetable with some coarse Besan and spices of choice (even oregano and chili flakes!) and steam logs of it. When done, lightly toast on a greased tava, and you have a great teatime snack ready.
The process of making flattened rice involves first roasting the unskinned whole rice grain. This means that the Poha we buy in the markets is actually semi-cooked. This makes it a great option for light meals. Play with traditional Poha-Chooda recipes and add vegetables to them to make a filling yet light meal cooked literally in minutes! Cucumbers and yogurt mixed with Poha make a great alternative to curd-rice while seasonal vegetables tossed in a basic tadka can make a Poha-pulao that you can eat with a cooling raita on the side. Try it!
Broken wheat or bulgur is another fast-cooking option that packed a good protein and complex carbohydrate punch. Pressure cook a small batch and store in the refrigerator, if you like. Then, use as required—tossed in salads or stir fried with vegetables to make a sort of tava pulao. Or add some cooked oats, a splosh of milk and sweet spices to make a Kheer or pudding of sorts—pair it with seasonal fruits and you have a hearty, no-sweat dessert or breakfast cereal that will make you want to pull out the phone camera and show it off!