The arrival of colder months of the year unleashes a cheer in the air for the Bengalis. The market gets flooded with winter vegetables, and the culinary fare of Bengal turns into a feast of seasonal delicacies. An oodles of fresh produce turn the food spread tastier than ever
With the onset of winter, the kitchens in Bengali households become busy preparing an array of sweet and savoury delicacies. I remember how winter meant a bowl of sauteed koraishuti or fresh green peas seasoned with homemade spice blends that used to be my afternoon snacks. The only condition was to help mom in peeling the green peas. In between, I used to pop up a few tender ones, which were sweeter than the matured pods. My maa (mother) often said, 'shitkal e ranna kore aaram', (it is a pleasure to cook in winter). Her logic was the array of vegetables that this season has to offer. Later in life, I realised it was a legit statement. Bengali dishes with winter vegetables have a unique taste.
Notun Alur Dom
Notun alu is the new potatoes just harvested and hit the market during this season. Unlike regular potatoes, this one has thin skin, which can be peeled off just by rubbing it against a coarse surface. It's a hearty winter dish. Notun alu, or new baby potatoes, are fried in a salty, spicy gravy. A few Bengali households add fresh green peas of the season too. It is often relished with luchi or korashutir kochuri.
Bengali peas kachori, Image Source: Savoryland @facebook
In Bengali cuisine, it is a popular winter breakfast. A Bong eater cannot conceive the winter months without Korashutir Kochuri. Kochuri is a deep-fried puri filled with slightly flavoured koraishuti or fresh green pea paste. The filling is usually seasoned with ginger paste, hing, green chili, and house spices. It is often relisehd with nutun or new potatoes alu dum.
Long green stalks, topped with a white bloom and a mild, not-too-pungent flavour. From the month of November till the fag end of February, the markets in Bengal are swamped with these gorgeous green stalks. A highly healthy winter vegetable high in Vitamin K, antioxidants, minerals, and numerous other vitamins. It has anti-bacterial qualities that aid in treating colds and flu and are advantageous to cardiovascular health. This winter, greens are prepared in various ways in Bengali kitchens. Peyakoli alu bhaja, peyakoli chorchori, alu phulkopi diye peyakolir torkari, peyakoli aar chingri macher chorchori, peyakoli diye macher jhol, and so on.
Phulkopi kosha, Image Source: thegastronomicbong.com
Originally it used to be winter produce. Winter is the cauliflower season, though these days, we get this vegetable throughout the year. Thus, the cauliflower of phulkopi available during winter tastes the best. And Bengalis wait for it to make their favourite phulkopi kosha. This decadent curry gets a rich aroma with garom masala and ginger paste. And the taste can beat a y non-vegetarian curry.
Palong Shak er Ghonto
Bengali spinach curry, Image Source: Debjanir-Rannaghar@Instgram
Like cauliflower, palong shak or spinach used to be a typical winter vegetable, and thus, many Bengali families swear to eat seasonal vegetables only during the right season. A Bengali winter meal platter has a traditional dish prepared with the profuse use of fresh spinach leaves with a medley of a few other vegetables such as potato, green peas, sweet pumpkin, radish, and brinjal. It is a healthy dish that brings out a variety of flavours. Slow-cooked spinach leaves with veggies, green chilis, and home spices. Serve with steaming rice.