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Cooler weather is a fair excuse for comfort food and dishes that ooze with warmth and comfort.
Cooler weather is a fair excuse for comfort food and dishes that ooze with warmth and comfort.
However, did you know that the cooking method you adopt and the ingredients used in your meals can help you enjoy winter even more? City chefs pick their favourite ingredients to experiment with this season and also suggest cooking methods that are a hit.
 
Ambar Rode, chef, Brasserie Cinq, says, “Closer to year end, the quality of produce, especially root vegetables such as beetroot, cauliflower, radish, and green leafy vegetables are amazingly fresh. We focus on seasonality a lot, because when we are eating seasonal food, the food is at its peak in terms of taste, flavour, nutritional value and the best part is they are less expensive. Buying local food helps you keep in touch with seasonality.”
 
Globally, winter is all about hearty, comfort food which not only fills your stomach, but also your soul. Rode adds. “My top five ingredients for crispy weather are pumpkin, apples, red radishes, strawberries and cauliflower. So many cooking methods can be applied to them. Roasted pumpkin soup is a great way to start with your meal.
 
Red radishes can be pickled and used throughout the year. Slow roasted or chargrilled cauliflower steaks can be tasty accompaniments. Apple Tarte Tatin is an excellent dessert to finish your meal with, as it is served warm and the smell of a caramelised apples are heavenly.”
 
Cooking methods for the season
 
Braising in the oven with a little liquid in the pan, which should be covered; simmering slowly on top of the stove on low heat; crock pot cooking and roasting vegetables in the oven, all of these slow cooking methods will provide the best nourishing and warming results for your body in cold weather. Rachel Goenka, chef and founder, The Sassy Spoon, says, “The longer you cook them, the more warming effect they will have. Similarly, braising in the oven or on top of the stove cooks meat and vegetables slowly. Braising makes meat and vegetables tender, infusing the broth with their flavours. When the mornings turn frosty, slowly cooked food deeply nourishes your body, is easier to digest, and helps your body build and maintain heat.
 
This winter, ditch the regular way of cooking, instead, opt for steaming, grilling and more. Amninder Sandhu, executive chef, Arth Restaurant & Lounge, says, “Slow cooking makes so much sense during winters to cook winter dishes such as Paya Shorba, Black Lentils, Kaali Gaajar Ka Halwa and Sarson Ka Saag.”
 
Gulshan Kumar, executive chef, The Orchid Hotel, states that the ideal methodology to be used while cooking during the winters is braising in the oven,with a little liquid in the pan which should be covered. Cook food properly , at a temperature at least 75 degrees Celsius more than usual. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of cooked food. If you are using the microwave, check if the food is cooked evenly throughout.
 
Karan Pawar, chef, Cabaret By Peter, says, “A cooking method that we should avoid is, frying because it contains oil and fat. However steaming , broiling and dry heat are better and healthier cooking methods during winter.”
 
Dos and don’ts of winter food and cooking
 
Most dairy products such as curd and cheese should be avoided in winter because the chances of getting ill is more during this time of the year. Pawar adds, “We should indulge more in Steam Dumplings, Seafood Laksa Soup, Makharana Tangdi Kebab, Chicken Chop, Dakgangjeong (Sweet Crispy Chicken), and Patrani Machi. Those who prefer veg over non veg, can surely go for Gajar Ka Halwa, Sweet Potato Rabdi, Mooli Ke Kofte and Beetroot Kebab.”
 
Sarika Kamble, chef, Crowne Plaza, Pune City Centre points out that one should not overcook food during this season. He says, “Eat fresh food and use light methods of cooking such as steaming, roasting, etc.”
 
Sabyasachi Gorai, chef, Mineority By Saby picks root vegetables, oats, chillis, capsicum and cauliflower or broccoli as top ingredients this season. “Do convert your sugar from refined to organic jaggery and up your intake of ginger and garlic.”