A vast nation like India has almost every season imaginable. The Himalayan mountains, Kerala's rain forests, Rajasthan's vast deserts, and the world's longest coastline all exist. Looking at the various climates is the greatest approach to comprehend the cuisine. Seasonal local produce changes with the year. The principles of Ayurveda, which provides guidance on what foods should be eaten when, are likewise related to the seasons. Additionally, there are cooking and preservation methods that vary by place and season. In India, seasonal eating is a discipline. 

Also read: Shadrasa: The Six Flavours Of Ayurveda

India officially has 4 seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, and winter. According to Ayurveda and the Hindu calendar, there are 6: Vasanta (spring): mid-March to mid-May, Grishma (summer): mid-May to mid-July, Varsha (monsoon): mid-July to mid-September, Sharad (autumn): mid-September to mid-November, Hemant (pre-winter): mid-November to mid-January, Shishir (winter): mid-January to mid-March.  

Image credit: Shutterstock

Ayurvedic principles are the basis for most of India's eating customs. The human body is made up of bioenergy, also known as life forces, in Ayurveda. These are referred to as the vata, pitta, and kapha doshas. Vata governs the energy of motion, pitta governs metabolism or digestion, and kapha governs lubrication. We assimilate our meals and our experiences through the digestive fire, or agni. Sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent are among the six flavours known as shadrasa. 

Winter brings about an increase in pitta since the agni is greater. Wheat, whole grains, dairy products, and fatty foods are advised since they are the types of foods that go well with the warm weather. These foods have a sweet, sour, or salty flavour. Even so, because the winters in southern India are not as severe as those in the north, regional diets may differ. 

Ayurveda claims that seasonal availability holds awareness.  Cold and coughing typically strike during the monsoon season. Stone fruits are available during the rainy season and should be consumed because they are high in antioxidants. During the summer, fruits and vegetables like watermelon, cucumber, and many types of gourds are readily accessible to satisfy the body's demand for hydration. Due to the warm and humid climate, coconut thrives all year round on the west coast and in southern India. It is frequently used in cooking. 

There are other regional specialties as well, such as the wild greens that are only available in the monsoon in Maharashtra. These include phodshi and dragon stalk yam. A variety of wild greens stir-fried with garlic and oil and served with rice in tribal communities of the foothills of Maharashtra. In the Himalayan region, stinging nettle and fiddlehead fern are the most often consumed plants, whereas Rajasthani foraged dry beans and berries are referred to as ker sangri. Although some areas of north India, central India, and west India also eat wheat, it is primarily consumed in areas that receive less rainfall. 

In Kashmir as well as the coastal areas of Maharashtra, east and north-east India, and south India, rice is a common food. In addition to wheat and rice, there are also regionally specific grains and millets, such as corn in the northern plains during the winter, sorghum in the western region, and foxtail millet, which is consumed during the summer due to its cooling properties.