The Right Seasoning
Would you like chilled melon slices in winter, or bite into a hot piece of apple pie in summer? Nah...Nature seems to zero in on what you want and when. There is a link between the cycle of seasons and the fruits eaten during each of them.
Flavour of the Month
Seasonal variations in food habits reflect the natural cycle of planting, flowering and fruition. We change our food habits to suit what the soil can naturally offer. Food patterns, like everything else, are connected to the solar energy, longitude, latitude and rainfall pattern of a particular place during a particular season.
But hey, didn’t you have carrots in your salad last night…even though it is supposed to be a winter vegetable? Yes. Now everything is available, at a price of ourse, around the year. Is that good or bad? Well, consider this. Out-of-season vegetables are produced by artificial fertilisers and inorganic nutrients or stored for a long period using preservatives. Yes, we are living in an era of cold storage and synthetic packaging. In a supermarket, vegetables and fruits are brought at a stage when they have not grown or ripened completely. They are forced to ripen in rooms with artificial temperatures and then when they mature, they are tinned or packed. No wonder bhindi (lady’s finger) in winter tastes distinctly blander.
What is hot in Summer?
Here are some foodie fundas for the season.
Fluids: A fluid-based diet is the best way to combat heat. Beverages of lime, mango, peach and watermelon contain natural sugars and fibre that help in hydrating our bodies. Vegetables like tinda may be boring, but cools well. And better boiled than fried since it retains Vitamin A. Just drinking a lot of water is good enough.
Store it in earthen pots and add fragrant touches like khus, sandal or rose, for the taste as well as medicinal value. (see box)
Minerals: Our energy levels plummet in summers. A diet with high electrolyte content (sodium, potassium, chloride) calcium and phosphorus like mangoes, melons, bananas, limes, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce would do.
! Here are some tips on managing your summer food.
Syrup made of boiled raw mango cures/prevents sunstroke.
Amla jelly is a sure fire remedy for fatigue.
Have watermelon and cucumber after meals.
A chutney made of raw onion and green coriander leaves is very cooling. Use tulsi seeds, often.
Tastes like Spring
The way smells can tell you which season has arrived, so can tastes. And they have their medicinal value too.
Spring – Gulab: flavouring for sweets. Good for heart
Summer – Sandal – cools, heals pimples and prickly heat. Kewara: Beats heat, headaches. Flavouring. Chameli: Beats heat. Stops bleeding from the ear.
Monsoon – Khus: Guards against sunstroke. Fights high blood pressure. Specific tastes dominate in specific seasons. It tells us how our food must change with seasons.
Monsoon – Dim sun, damp, wet. Go for sour and slightly salty.
Autumn – Humid. Scanty clouds. Plenty of vegetation. Sour again.
Early Winter – Dull sun, cold, dry, foggy. Sweet taste-helps reduce acidity.
Winter – Weak sun, misty, dry, cold, snow. Little vegetation. Flavour? Bitter.
Spring – Warm sun, pleasant, clear skies. Young leaves. Taste: astringent.
Summer – Hot sun. Dry, dusty, unpleasant. Scanty vegetation. Pungent is best.