Delhi is called the food capital of India not for nothing. Delhi food culture has a unique feature. Traditional food of Delhi changes starkly with season. In no Indian city does food change so much with weather. As a result, we eagerly wait throughout the year to have seasonal dishes of Delhi.
Delhi winter food has a rich repertoire. In any case, winters are perhaps the best time to eat to the heart’s content. For one, we get a host of tasty vegetables like carrots, beetroot, peas, sweet potato, fenugreek leaves or methi saag and mustard leaves or our favourite sarson ka saag. Moreover, given the cold weather, the metabolism works better. Winter is also a great time to savor street food of Delhi because of no sweating or depletion in this season.
Here’s a list of must try food items in Delhi winters.
Gajar ka Halwa
Carrots traditionally are seasonal vegetables that traditionally belong to winters. Although so hybrid “Chinese carrot” is sold round the year; it is neither tasty nor affordable. Carrots in winter are not only cheap but are tasty and rich in nutrition. Therefore, the dessert Gajar ka Halwa (carrot-pudding) tastes best in winters. Not only is Gajar ka Halwa high in food value, it is rich in nature and tastes best in winter.
Gajak and Rewari
These Indian sweets are exclusively available only in winters. Delhi along with the whole of North India gets very cold during the months of November to February.. Peanuts, sesame seeds, and jaggery are the items that keep you warm in this season. These are rich in nutrients and delicious. Gajak and Rewari are sweets prepared using these ingredients. Quite the on-the-go snack, you can much on these goodies after lunch, dinner, or any time in between. Gajak and Rewari boxes are sought after gifts for Lohri festival.
Daulat Ki Chaat
Contrary to its name it’s not a savory chaat item from Delhi street food. It’s an unusual dessert exclusively available in the by lanes of Old Delhi from the months November to March. It’s a whipped cream dessert that cannot withstand Delhi heat so winters are the only time to relish this beauty. It’s a soft melt in the mouth scoop of heaven and is a delight as well.
Saag and Makki ki Roti
Sarson ka Saag and Makki ki Roti are a combination that originated from Punjab, but is now a Delhi staple. The mustard greens are the sweetest in winters and the Sarson ka Saag dish is painstakingly cooked the traditional way in many Delhi households. Makki ka Roti or corn bread is the perfect accompaniment with this dish. A piece of jaggery is often had on the side to add a hint of sweetness. While many restaurants serve this combo, it tastes best when cooked at home.
Gajar Gobhi Shalgam pickle
Gajar gobhi shalgam achaar or pickle is another delicacy had during Delhi winters. All the three vegetable carrots, cauliflower, and turnips are available in abundance during the season. The pickle is tempered with mustard seeds that add heat to the dish. To balance the taste, it is sweetened with jaggery. It tastes very good with Saag and Makki ki Roti. This is another preparation that tastes best when homemade.
While fish is readily available and eaten in eastern parts of India throughout the year, Dilliwalas prefer their fish mostly in winters. Fried fish or fish tikkas are hot selling items in Delhi winters. Some of the famous places to eat this item in Delhi are Ganesh Macchi Wala in Karol Bagh and Paramjeet Macchi in Moti Nagar.
Munching on peanuts sitting under blankets n quilts or around a bonfire is a common sight in Delhi winters. You can ditch the packed salted peanuts in this season and munch on roasted shelled peanuts. Readily available all over North India, this goes very well with jaggery and popcorns. This combination is a staple during Lohri celebrations.
Pinni or Gond ke laddoo
These are delicious sweet atta balls packed with a punch of healthy calories from nuts, ghee, gur or sugar along with crunchy wonder element gond. Rich and tasty, one laddoo is enough to make you go on for hours. Best tried at home, these are also available at famous sweet shops like Haldiram, Bikaner etc.
This is an Indian dish which was always made by mothers and grandmothers to give to those who need nutrition most. Like pregnant women, lactating mothers, studious kids burning the midnight oil or sons in physically demanding jobs. Roasted atta or besan or geamflour is mixed with ghee, dry fruits, seeds and sugar powder and then packed in steel boxes for long use. Sometimes Panjiri is eaten mixed with fruits like banana and distributed as divine offering or prasad as well.
Winter is the season to savor warm and comforting soups given the many fresh and pocket-friendly vegetables available in the market. From spinach to mushrooms and from carrots to chicken, this is the time to break away from the monotony of tomato soup. For best nutrition keep the vegetables in the soup and eat it like a broth to get the best of fiber content.
Now that winter is back with a bang in Delhi, this post is as timely as it can get. Do you think we have missed out on any Delhi winter food traditions? Do let us know in comments. Also, if you have a favourite Indian dish that you have only during winters, we would love to know about that as well.