Sunday, October 24, 2021

Spicy Indian Winter Recipes

The exciting blends of spices in Indian cuisine can take away the chill of winter, writes SOWPERNICA

Reading Time: 5 minutes 

Winter cooking can be a challenge, but not if you add a bit of Indian spice and flavour to your food. India reflects a perfect blend of various cultures and ages, being a diverse region with a tremendous tradition for food and incorporating a very wide diversity of spices in all its cuisine.

Indian cuisine has many ways of combining vegetables and lentils with spices, the most popular of which are cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black peppercorn, cumin, fenugreek, coriander and turmeric. Recipes using these spices could help cope with colds and coughs this winter. But the season instills cravings for hot comfort foods. So here are a few healthy and comfort recipes, all guaranteed to make your mouth water.

Cheesy Bread Pakoras

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A crispy treat with the hint of mint and coriander, the goodness of cheese and spicy potato masala.

Cheesy bread pakoras
Cheesy bread pakoras.


  • 4 slices bread
  • 4 slices of cheese singles

For the potato filling:

  • 2 potatoes
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp salt

For the chutney filling:

  • 10 mint leaves
  • ½ bunch fresh coriander
  • 4 green chillies

For the crust:

  • ½ tsp omam (ajwain)
  • ¾ cup besan
  • ¼ cup rice flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp hing
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1½ cups water
  • Oil for toasting/frying

Cut each slice of bread and cheese diagonally into four pieces and keep aside.
Boil and mash the potatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients mentioned under filling with the mashed potatoes, mix well and keep aside.

Grind together the ingredients for the chutney filling into a paste. Keep aside.

For the crust, mix together all the ingredients with the water to form a batter of the consistency that is neither too thick nor too thin. On a piece of bread apply green chutney, a layer of the potato mix and a slice of cheese. Cover with another piece of bread. Follow this method until the bread slices are all prepared. Dip each bread with filling into the batter until fully coated. Place each bread piece into a hot tawa and add a drop of oil around. Turn over and toast thoroughly, ensuring that the sides are also well toasted. (Alternately, deep fry each battered bread sandwich in oil, until golden brown on all sides). Serve hot with tomato sauce.

Marundu Kuzambu

A tangy broth with healthy spices that help with coughs, colds and body aches. Best to have with hot rice and ghee.

marundhu kuzhambu broth
Marundhu Kuzhambu broth.


  • 1 cup small onions
  • 10-15 garlic cloves
  • 2½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • Lemon sized ball of tamarind
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp omam (ajwain)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 sitharathai (galangal)
  • 3 arisi thipilli (pippal)
  • 1 inch piece sukku (dried ginger)
  • 1 inch piece athimathuram (mulethi)
  • 3-4 red chillies

Prepare tamarind extract soaking tamarind in 1½ glasses of water. Keep aside. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and allow to splutter. Add garlic cloves and sauté for a minute. Add small onions and sauté till they look transparent. Add tamarind extract, salt, turmeric powder and allow to boil until the raw smell vanishes.

Dry grind the omam, pepper, cumin seeds, sitharathai*, arisi thipilli*, sukku*, athimathuram* and red chillies into a powder. Add the ground powder to the mix and allow to boil until the gravy thickens and the oil separates. Serve hot with rice and ghee. Refrigerate the rest of the mix and use for upto a week or 10 days.

*Available at Indian grocery stores

READ ALSO: Tomato soup/shorba recipe to keep you warm this winter

Maggi Dosa

A different dosa made with Maggi noodles, great to have hot on a winter evening.

Dosa made out of Maggi noodles
Dosa made out of Maggi noodles.


  • 2 single serve Maggi noodles packs
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tsp pepper powder
  • 200 gms besan
  • 10 tsp oil

Cook the Maggi noodles with or without a tastemaker. Keep aside, allow to cool. Next, add chilli powder, garam masala powder, salt, besan and water (if required) mix thoroughly to a thick consistency.

Heat a non-stick dosa tawa, pour the mixture into the shape of a small dosa. Sprinkle with pepper powder or freshly crushed peppercorns over dosa when frying. Add a little oil around the dosa so it cooks at the edges. Turn over when the surface cooks, to crisp until light golden brown. Prepare the rest of the dosas until the mix is finished. Serve hot with tomato sauce.

Pepper Rasam

An appetizing soup with a hint of pepper and cumin seeds, perfect to sip and take away the chill of winter.

Pepper rasam soup
Pepper rasam soup.


  • Lemon sized tamarind ball
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp hing
  • 1 tsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Roast and grind together
  • 2 tsp channa dal
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1 red chilli
  • For the tadka:
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds

Soak tamarind in water for half an hour in two glasses of water to prepare the tamarind extract. Boil tamarind water with turmeric powder, hing and salt, until the raw smell vanishes (about 10 -15 minutes).

Roast and grind the ingredients mentioned to a coarse powder. Add this to the mix and continue to boil for 5 to 7 minutes. Heat ghee in a small pan and add mustard seeds, allow to splutter. Add this tadka to the rasam and garnish it with coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice and ghee or as an appetizer/soup.

READ ALSO: Jaffna Goat Curry: a spicy Sunday roast recipe

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