Monsoon season is here and that means rainy days for most of the week. There is nothing that compares to enjoying a crispy pakora with some chai while enjoying this gloomy weather. There are many classic rainy day snacks that include chaats, fried foods, and even street food items, however, most of those foods tend to be unhealthy or made using a lot of fat and oil, especially those that are fried. However, a lot of such rainy day recipes can also be made using healthy ingredients without compromising on taste and aroma.
A lot of cooking oils tend to be heavily refined and contain bad cholesterol that leads to clogged arteries and is detrimental to cardiological health. A healthy substitute for cooking oil when preparing fried foods is ghee, as it contains healthy fats and CLA, which promotes good cholesterol for better heart health. Another healthy substitute for cooking oil can be virgin coconut oil, especially if it is cold-pressed, as it retains a lot of the nutrients that are usually removed due to heat processes, which is common with other cooking oils. Another way rainy season recipes can be made healthy is by substituting refined sugar for natural jaggery powder or raw honey as these do not contain any preservatives and provide nutrients in addition to the sweet flavor. In this manner, a lot of your favorite rainy day foods can be made healthier, and here are a few monsoon recipes that take a healthy twist on some classics.
Healthy Vegetable and Ghee Pakoras
This healthy twist on the classic pakora recipe results in some lightly fried, crunchy pakoras that are perfect to enjoy with a cup of chai on a cool, rainy afternoon. Substituting healthy ghee for cooking oil in this recipe results in lesser cholesterol, and the use of baking powder ensures that the pakoras don’t absorb too much fat while being fried.
- 2 cups chopped vegetables of choice (carrots, onions, beans, capsicum)
- ½ tsp pink salt
- ¼ cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
- 1 sprig of curry leaves
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
- 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ green chili, deseeded and finely chopped
- ½ cup besan flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tbsp ghee for frying
- Place chopped vegetables in a large bowl and sprinkle in some salt.
- Mix the veggies together, then squeeze them to release the moisture.
- Add in the coriander, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, chili, turmeric, and pepper to the bowl, then sift in besan flour and baking powder.
- Mix everything together until well combined.
- Add a little bit of water just to combine the vegetables and the batter.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the ghee to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Pick up bits of the vegetable batter, shape them into little spheres and add to the pan.
- Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until golden, then flip over and repeat on the other side.
- Transfer the cooked pakoras onto a plate or bowl covered with a paper towel.
- Serve hot with some mint chutney and chai!
Chickpea and Mint Soup
Nothing beats a bowl of piping hot soup on a gloomy rainy day. This recipe for chickpea and mint soup combines hearty chickpeas (a great source of protein) with the herby freshness of mint topped with some light ghee tempering to bring you this aromatic and refreshing soup that is soul-warming during this monsoon season.
- 2 cups of chana dal cooked and drained
- 10 chopped mint leaves
- 3 cups of water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp ghee
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 knob ginger grated
- Blend the cooked chickpeas and add water as necessary till the desired consistency is reached. Set aside.
- In a wide-bottomed pot, heat the ghee. Add the cumin seeds and ginger and saute for 30 seconds, then add the turmeric powder.
- Pour in the chickpea mixture and add water to adjust consistency.
- Gently simmer for 10 minutes adding salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn off the flame and top the soup with chopped mint leaves. Serve hot!
A rainy day and a cup of hot chai go hand in hand. This can only be made better when the chai is masala chai! This recipe for masala chai uses the aroma of spices and goodness of ghee to bring out the flavors of tea that we all love. The sugar can be replaced with jaggery powder or raw honey for a healthier way to enjoy this classic rainy day drink.
- 2-3 cloves
- ⅓ tsp cinnamon powder
- 3 green cardamoms
- 1 tbsp tea powder/leaves
- ½ tsp jaggery powder or raw honey
- 2-3 cups water
- ½ tsp ghee
- Milk as needed
- Grind the cloves and cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle until it is a powder.
- In a saucepan, heat the water and bring it to a boil. Add in the tea powder or tea leaves and let them simmer.
- Add in the ground spices with the cinnamon powder and ghee into the saucepan and let it simmer for 5 minutes then turn off the heat.
- Strain the tea into a cup or mug using a strainer. Stir in the jaggery powder or honey and mix well. Add milk if desired. Enjoy while it is hot!
Monsoon season is one that goes on for several months in India. This is a time when we love to enjoy our favorite snacks and foods that provide warmth and let us enjoy the tranquility of rain. It gives us a moment to pause our hectic lives and enjoy nature, and a snack and beverage for accompaniment make it all the better. Substituting healthy ingredients can not only make the foods healthier but also enhance the flavor and provide more nutrients. So enjoy these recipes and use this chance to prepare some delicious and healthy snacks for a rainy day!