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Four all-time Favorite Winter Treats

Picture of “Litti Chokha”, a popular dish from Bihar, India (Source: all pictures in this post are by the author)

At the start of the week i thought winter in Delhi was behind us, when it rained on Monday and got colder! Snowfall up north and plenty of fog to greet us in the morning. Again it was time for some old-fashioned bonfire…

AND simple-to-cook winter treats that i like to prepare at home. Here are 4 of my favorite ones:

1. Makke ki Roti & Sarso Saag

Got sarso saag (mustard leaves) from the local market and handful of makke ka aata (maize flour). Prepared the dough, added some wheat flour (~10% by volume) for better binding. Usually i put mustard paste and ‘ajwain’ (Ajowan caraway or bishop’s seeds) for a dash of taste to the mustard leaves. Use of ghee or oil for cooking is also kept to an optimal quantity.

  • Cost of Ingredients (in Delhi-NCR) – Mustard leaves @ INR 25 per Kg; Maize Flour @ INR 70 per Kg. Add-ons like 1 small onion, garlic cloves, spices, salt, cooking oil. Less than INR 50 for a meal for two 🙂
  • Total Prep+Cooking Time – 40 minutes for 6 makke rotis and 250 grams sarso saag
  • Calorie Count – ~175 KCal in 1 small makke roti + sarso saag on the side

Raw mustard leaves, Makke roti on the pan, and the final serving

2. Gajar Halwa

Carrots are the buzz of the winter season and this easy to make dessert ‘takes the cake’ every time! Instead of grating the carrots, i usually boil small cut pieces with full fat or toned milk in a pressure cooker. Quantity of milk is put in a way that the carrot pices are half-submerged.

Adding a clove or two of cardamoms while boiling enhances the flavour. One the carrots are cooked for about 15 minutes, i mash them with a handheld wooden masher. After sauteing dry fruits on low flame with some ghee, the carrot + milk mix is added. Cooked slowly on low flame till the mixture is close to dry.

  • Cost of Ingredients (in Delhi-NCR) – Carrots @ INR 25 per Kg; Full Fat Milk @ INR 60 per Kg. Add-ons like dry fruits, cardamoms, sugar, cooking oil. Less than INR 50 for a meal for two 🙂
  • Total Prep+Cooking Time – 30 minutes using 500 g carrots and 200 ml milk. Serves 3-4 people.
  • Calories Count – 550 KCal for a 500 g portion
gajar halwa

To balance the sweetness, complement the carrot pudding with slices of kiwi fruit! And the juxtaposed colors looks good too.

3. Litti – Chokha

Come winters and the buzz around litti-chokha takes over! Originally a dish from Bihar, it has now become popular in pretty much every state. The conventional way would be to cook the littis on bonfire embers, or using a ‘gas tandoor’ (litti maker). However, i tried the lowly all purpose cooking vessel with a glass dish and it worked rather fine! It’s a low-calorie dish. You can customize the brinjal chokha/baingan bharta/aubergine mash to suit your taste. The essence lies in carving out the perfect round scoops from the dough balls and balancing the “sattu” (roasted gram flour) filling.

  • Cost of Ingredients (in Delhi-NCR) – Large Brinjal @ INR 65 per Kg; Sattu / Roasted Gram Flour @ INR 85 per Kg; Wheat Flour @ INR 35 per kg. Add-ons like 1 medium onion, garlic cloves, spices, salt, cooking oil. Less than INR 60 for a meal for two 🙂
  • Total Prep+Cooking Time – 20 minutes for the littis and chokha, each cooked simultaneously; Prep time of 15 minutes would include making the sattu filling, making the dough balls while roasting the whole brinjal on open flame.
  • Calorie Count – 1 piece of litti + chokha has 140 calories if ghee is rubbed on the surface. Lower otherwise.

Sattu atta has chopped onions, garlic, ajwain, salt and some green chillies. Dough balls are made by kneading wheat flour.

Use a medium-size onion to chop one half for sattu filling, other half for str-frying in bharta. The dough balls need to be shaped into ‘scoops’. A ladle full of wheat flour makes for 5 small or 4 medium size dough balls.

Roasting one whole brinjal on an open flame. Use forceps to turn. Add other ingredients after removing the peel and mashing the aubergine.

I improvised a normal cooking vessel with glass lid in place of a gas tandoor. The filled littis need to be turned from time to time till the outer surface is fully cooked and no longer tender.

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Here’s a pic of the final product – golden brown littis with chokha. Simple and delicious!

Useful Tip : stay well-hydrated after consuming littis as they absorb water.

4. Kesar Milk

Okay, so if the last recipe seemed like a while lot of work (which actually is not… just the pics are too descriptive 🙂 this one is my favorite quick fix – Saffron Milk! Sometimes for flavour i add almonds which have been soaked overnight, and then made into a paste. The recipe is rather open-ended so we aren’t looking at ingredients here… saffron though can be bought from Khadi Gramodyog at competitive prices. Patanjali has a far cheaper version, but quality is a little sub-optimal.

  • Calorie Count – 170 calories in a 250 ml glass of kesar milk. Lower without sugar.

Fast to make, healthy and tasty! I usually avoid adding sugar.

Here are links to recipes for all the winter treats:

Locally sourced ingredients are such a saviour! How did you like the winter collection? Feel free to write in the comments below.

Would be happy to know what other winter delicacies you like to make at home, and how.

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