Monsoons are a deliciously Indian phenomenon. From spending a better part of my life by the coast in Mumbai and Goa, I’ve come to appreciate the torrential rain for the relief it brings after the scorching summer months. Every monsoon season is associated with its burst of scents, flavours, memories and things to do. Read on for snippets of places to go, things to do, what to eat and drink to truly enjoy the monsoons!
Pick your favourite veggies, slice them thin and fry with batter. Vegetable pakodas are a top favourite in the monsoon season and are best accompanied by a spicy pickle and a hot cardamom and ginger tea. In monsoons, if you’re staying indoors a lot and are unable to get too much exercise, you’d want to eat light. For that, I recommend a nice, hot plate of poha for breakfast instead of the usual. Add roasted peanuts and garnish with coriander to enjoy it to your fullest. Another loved Monsoon snack is the samosa but here’s the healthy twist to it: instead of frying it, stuff it with a healthy preparation of chickpeas and bake it in the oven. I often use the Wonderchef OTG to get the flakiest, tastiest results.
Sometimes, I like to go for a rainy drive and when I come back, I whip myself a hot maggi filled with carrots, onions, peas and for a fun twist, zucchini that immediately elevates the dish.
An activity that’s a bit uncommon but one I thoroughly enjoy is getting wet in the rain during walks or playing football or even swimming in the rain! Something about working out in the rain keeps the tiredness and sweat at bay. My favourite pick me up meal after a hard workout is enjoying the goodness of bhutta this season by whipping up some sweet corn chaat. I sprinkle chaat masala over some boiled sweet corn for the perfect flavour.
Another vivid memory is that of eating aloo tikki chaat in Dehradun after my marriage. We were returning from the movie theatre when it started raining and it became cold. The misty weather called for some chaat, so we stopped by at Ganapati Sweets to enjoy some crunchy tikki chaat. This year, I am planning to make dumpling and noodle soup, and lots of spicy Maggi!
An unforgettable childhood food memory is of feasting on hot plantain and jackfruit chips that Mum and aunts had just fried in the courtyard of my friend’s ancestral home in Kerala. Her family came together and good times happened around these bowls of salted chips and tea. Much time has passed since, but every year when the clouds gather, those flavours emerge from memory, and I cannot wait to make fresh banana fritters and spicy, crunchy dal vadas with endless cups of cardamom tea.
Along with spices and colour, the smell of the monsoon is part of the Indian collective unconscious, evoking nostalgia in even the most hardened souls. The Indian monsoon, for anyone lucky enough to witness it, is a magical memory.
Author : Alina Gufran, writer and film-maker, who loves the outdoors and reading.