GUJARAT / Dal Vadas It’s almost ritualistic for Gujaratis to welcome monsoon with hot dal vadas. The queues at local stalls (mostly outside colleges) in Ahmedabad symbolise the season as much as the menacing rain clouds. If your mother objects to you eating outside (given the overflowing gutters next to the shops), cook these rounds at home. Simply combine moong dal, green chillies, ginger and garlic and then deep-fry them. Ta-da! Your very own hot dal vadas are ready to eat.
MAHARASHTRA / Kanda Bhaji We could tell you how an onion crop bounty in Maharashtra signals abundant rainfall and good news for the country’s economy. But who wants to get into such dreary details when you have a plate of crunchy kanda bhaji (onion fritters) to bite into and a cup of piping hot tea to go with it? If you can take the heat, dip it in green chilli chutney; for those who want to tone down the spice, there’s tomato ketchup.
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WEST BENGAL / Ilish And Khichuri It’s the only time of the year when Bengal’s famous ilish-chingri (hilsa-prawn) divide is bridged. Even the prawn loyalists root for this ‘macher raja’ (the king of fish) during the monsoon, when the adult hilsa swims upstream from the sea into the river to spawn. Flavoured with a variety of condiments, this fish can be savoured in any form you like: Smoked, fried, steamed or baked. If you are feeling lazy, just fry it in mustard oil and pair it with a plate of piping hot khichuri.
JHARKHAND / Rugda This rare variety of mushrooms is synonymous with the rains in Jharkhand. Its popularity can be gauged from the fact that scientists are planning to produce this one-season wonder on a larger scale. Some say that when cooked in gravy, it can beat a sumptuous meat delicacy in taste. Try it out and be your own judge.
Image: Indiapicture NORTH INDIA / Corn If there is one thing that brings all north Indians together, it would be their trip to the street vendor to eat bhutta during the monsoon. Everyone gets their corn on the cob customised to their taste, playing with the chili powder-to-lemon-to-salt ratio. Grab your rain gear and venture out in the pelting rain to locate your closest push-cart corn-man.
North East / Poita Bhat/Soh Phe Despite the torrent that the North-East faces (Mausinram and Cherrapunji in Meghalaya are two of the wettest places on earth), no one is complaining. Assam friends tell us they swear by poita bhaat (fermented rice porridge), which goes easy on the stomach. In Meghalaya, they look forward to Soh Phe—a spongy, green fruit—eaten with a mix of salt and ground chilli.
Image: Sivaram V/ Reuters KERALA / Marunnu Kanji Keralites rejuvenate their bodies and minds in monsoon with Marunnu Kanji, a medicinal porridge made by cooking njavara rice with cow’s milk, coconut milk and a variety of herbs and spices. It can be garnished with jaggery and shallots sautéed in ghee.