This article is written by Chef K.Thirugnanasambantham , the Principal at Welcome Group Graduate School of Hotel Administration (WGSHA), Manipal. He has served as HOD of the Food Production Department, Operations Department, and Department of Culinary Arts. The maestro earned his repute over three decades for his diligence, robust leadership qualities and passion for the industry. He brings to the table a huge repertoire of knowledge and expertise in the dynamics of hospitality, culinary education, hotel administration, and operations. His strong dexterity comes from his vast experience and extensive cognizance from skillfully managing hospitality and culinary programs.
As the sky turns grey and the clouds spray tiny droplets of water, it instigates hunger and creates an urge to eat. Everything turns magical when the petrichor whirls in through the windows as soon as the water touches the earth. There is only one thing that adds up to the experience – a steaming plate of comfort food paired with a piping hot cup of tea or coffee.
As diversified as India is, there are certain foods that people specifically associate with monsoon throughout the country. The monsoon months bring with them an intriguing variety of flavours, from regional delicacies to opulent holiday sweets, to distinctive seasonal food and culinary customs. Divided by regions, India is connected by its undying love for food.
A steaming cup of special kadak chai with additional adrak are the quintessential monsoon elements. This elixir, whether it be the well-known "Cutting Chai'' from Mumbai or the beloved "Kullad wali Chai" from Kolkata, adds even more charm to a wet day with its potent scent and smoky cardamom flavour, best paired with warm pakodas or bajjis is something that immediately comes to mind on hearing the word rain. In the monsoons, the incredibly simple roasted corn on the cob is a pleasure.
It feels more mystical as the aroma and elegance of butter dripping down the yellow corn fills the heart, with a dab of lime to provide some zest.
Maharashtra is known for its delicious fried foods in every corner of its contours. Pav Bhaji, Mumbai Special Vada Pav, Misal Pav and more are some of the most famous snacks of the monsoon season. Bombil Bhujna is a traditional Maharashtrian dish cooked with the well-liked fish "Bombil," also called "Bombay Duck." The best way to eat this curry is with rice.
Mysore Bajjis and Onion Samosas
During the monsoon season, Gujaratis' love affair with foods like Dal Wadas, Methi na Gota, and corn is revitalised. Dried fenugreek seeds are combined into chickpea batter to make methu na gota, which is then cooked till golden. In the rain, Gujaratis warm up with hot dal wadas. This monsoon delicacy pairs wonderfully with fried chilies and raw onion slices.
A plate of dosa, idli or vada with piping hot sambhar and coconut chutney bursting with flavours is enjoyed throughout the southern part of India, whether it is monsoon or just any regular day. The Karakadaka Kanji, a rice gruel cooked in coconut milk and infused with medicinal herbs and spices like fenugreek, coriander, and cumin seeds, dried ginger, cardamom, cloves, and other uncommon ingredients, is a popular monsoon dish in Kerala. Piping hot kerala style stew with appam is also enjoyed by a majority. During the monsoon, South India's staple meal is bhajis with masala chai. The monsoon season in South India is known for its Mysore bhajis in the morning and Onion bhajis in the evening. Irani Samosa filled with a spicy onion mixture is another delicacy enjoyed with a hot cup of tea. Sundal made with chickpeas, spices, freshly desiccated coconut and tempered with curry leaves is a healthy monsoon delicacy enjoyed by most tamilians.
If you want to explore snacks during the Indian monsoon season, Northeast India offers a unique look for the snack sector. People from Nepal visit the northeastern provinces to taste local varieties of peaches. In states such as Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, there are versions of this steamed food and delicious snacks. Shillong and Cherrapunji in Meghalaya are the two most desirable locations during the monsoon. There is so much more to food than just the humble momos paired with the spicy garlic chutney that fires up your mouth.
A warm bowl of comfort may be found in aamat, famous in Chattisgarh. The original variations of the recipe, which have been passed down through the years, were made using gondi and kareel, today more often known as bamboo shoots. With its rice flour-based stew, which in some forms includes snails, Muya Awandru is a gravy including bamboo shoots, fermented fish, and chilli peppers made in Tripura. Because cooking with fermented fish, also known as berma, requires no oil, Tripuris strongly feel that it should be employed in their cuisine.
Paruppu Vada and Kachori
One of the numerous cultural quirks of the north-east is nakham bitchi. Major food websites recommend that anybody visiting Meghalaya eat this meal. With its selection of ingredients, it embodies a special mix of tanginess and spiciness. The dish is made of dried fish that has been cooked with spices to give it a lovely texture. After that, vegetables are added to this mixture to make it more healthy. Eggrolls, a type of spring roll, and alu chops, a fried food item packed with mashed potatoes, are wildly popular in Bengal. Alu chops are stuffed with potato mush that has been spiced up with green peas, tomato slices, ginger paste, and other herbs and spices. In Bengal, these are the tastiest monsoon delicacies available to taste senses.
Ghevar made with a mixture of ghee, wheat, and sugar has evolved through time from being a straightforward sweetmeat to winning the hearts of Indians all around the country. This honeycomb-shaped disc-like sweet gives you the calories you need to keep your body warm and support digestion throughout the rainy season. Water chestnuts, mustard seeds, cumin, turmeric, amchur (dried mango powder), and besan are the main ingredients in singhade ki sabzi. The mixture of substances enables the body to be ready for the tough weather by strengthening its defences.
Be it the perfectly crispy samosa filled with a spicy potato filling or the flaky kachoris made with either lentils or an onion-potato filling, they are best served piping hot drenched in the dhaniya-pudina and tamarind chutney. The best part is ending the meal with piping hot, thin and crispy jalebis soaked in saffron sugar syrup.
Every part of India bursts with different flavours satisfying the palette wherever one goes. The diversity of aromas and flavours is unquestionable. Every season has its own meal to offer, and this is what the monsoon cuisine entails. A trip to India is incomplete without her food as it gives a glimpse into our culture, heritage, traditions and a sense of community.