Make a Date with Veggies This Winter

It is an astonishing truth that many vegetarians don’t think beyond various kinds of pulses, cottage cheese, potatoes, tomatoes, and onions. Dairy products remain high on their nutrition list, but large helpings of various kinds of seasonal vegetables are conspicuous by their absence. In much of northern and western India, the only way some people eat vegetables are when they are stuffed into parathas, or are pickled. Normally, one would have thought that it is the non-vegetarians who don’t care much for greens, and leafy vegetables. They prefer to get their nutrition from various kinds of fish and meat, with eggs and cheese tossed in for good measure.

Make Fresh Salad of Raw vegetable Part of Your Daily Menu

If you don’t have time to dress veggies into elaborate shapes or make fancy designs when serving salads, don’t break into a sweat. It’s not needed. Take advantage of the vivid colors of various winter vegetables to present a bright, riotously colored bowl of freshly cut or diced cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, radishes, carrots, onions, and very lightly steamed beetroots or cabbages set on a bed of lettuce leaves, watercress, or spinach. Toss all the vegetables with a light dressing of black salt, small pieces of chilies, ginger juliennes, and lightly drenched with the juice of a lemon, or an orange before setting them on the bed. Garnish with fresh coriander, cilantro, or parsley leaves.

Vary the ingredients daily:

The excitement would die down in a day or two, and your family will cotton on to it that they are being fed a nutritious and healthy diet. So, if you have put in spinach and/or cucumbers into your salad one day; you could make it look and taste different the next day by replacing them with sprouts of green moong or lightly steamed green chana. When you drench the salad in the lemon, lime, or orange juice, not only do the spices blend in nicely; the sour taste adds just that tang to titillate the taste buds. You get the daily dose of Vitamin C, and it makes the salad more attractive.

Add Apples, Pomegranates, and Grapes to Your Salads

Some of the variations to the daily salad would be to include fruits like apples, papayas, grapes, grapefruit, tangerines, even water chestnuts, and pomegranates which add to the visual treat as much as to the taste and nutritional value. You may also add lightly sautéed makhane (lotus seeds), peanuts, or pieces of boiled sweet potatoes, new potatoes, and eggs. It is best to vary the ingredients as much by their taste as their color and nutritive value. You might even want to substitute pieces or slivers of green chilies with coarsely ground black or white peppercorns sprinkled over the salad.

Those Soups, Stews, Curries, and Parathas Can Be Stuffed with Vegetables

The winters make you desire steaming hot food which warms you to the core of your being. Soups are an excellent choice, especially those which have been made with some vegetable or pulse broth, or meat stock. Choose the ones which have chunks of vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, asparagus, peas, parsnips, and beans in them, rather than those which have those deliciously tempting croutons. If you are a vegetarian, make your soup with vegetable broth made of potatoes, cabbages, onions, tomatoes, fennels, squash, leeks, turnips, beans, and beetroots; or lightly cooked juice of vegetables like carrots, celery, garlic, and spinach.

Every stew doesn’t require meat:

Typically, Irish stew and Calcutta istew use mutton stock to cook the various vegetables in them. Depending on who is cooking them, you might find small pieces of lamb’s meat or mutton. A good vegetarian substitute of fish and meat is soya chunk cooked in vegetable broth along with several pieces of vegetables. Depending on what else you might be eating, you can always put in a small dollop of butter into the soup to increase its ability to heat your body, and aid your body in absorbing its nutritive elements.

Vegetables go with rice, rotis, and puris:

If you only have cauliflowers, spinach, peas, radishes, fenugreek leaf, mustard saag, and cabbages when they are stuffed into parathas, you are missing out on a vast range of side dishes and great taste. Cooked into a dry sabzi, curried, or cooked with a light gravy — there are many ways of eating vegetables. Just don’t overcook them, as they lose much of their vitamins and minerals when cooked for long. Put capsicum into omeletes, chili paneer, sweet and sour vegetables, stir-fried baby corns, and into rolls along with tomatoes and onions.

Perfect Time for Fried Rice and Pulaos

Take advantage of the abundance of vegetables in winter to make various kinds of fried rice, and pulaos. From the simple peas pulao to the vegetarian shahi biriyani, to the vegetable fried rice which can be stirred up fast, these dishes offer an excellent option to make easy to cook, tasty, and nutritive meals which are filling and warm the body adequately to combat the chilling winds. Garnish with capsicum, shallots, and different green leaves to make them look more attractive.

Go Easy on the Spices

Jazzing up vegetable dishes with copious quantities of spices is self-defeating. However, judicious use of spices like cumin, peppercorn, ginger, cardamom, onions, cinnamon, and turmeric not only add to taste, but also improve your health. Green chilies help with rheumatic pain. However, you can stuff capsicums and tomatoes with things like soaked and ground pulses, boiled potatoes, peas, desiccated coconuts, and various condiments to be eaten as a side dish at lunch or dinner; or even as snacks in the evening.

Last updated on: December 10, 2018


Originally published at www.aimsindia.com on December 10, 2018.