‘I am feeling hungry,’ said little Ahana clutching her stomach. She looked pleadingly at her older brother Aviram. Aviram was tucked comfortably under his thick blanket on the bed. It was winter, the weather was chill and he felt so lazy. ‘We just had breakfast a few hours back Ahana!’ he said. But in fact, Aviram’s stomach was also rumbling a bit. So he got up with Ahana right behind him and made his way to the kitchen. He saw a bowl of fresh fruits on the table and heaved a sigh of relief. ‘Here, let’s have some oranges and let us peel the pomegranate too,’ he said.
Ahana and Aviram both devoured the fruits quickly. Brother, I love winters. But you know, just as in summers I keep feeling thirsty, in winters I am always hungry and never thirsty!’ said Ahana. ‘Haha,’ Aviram laughed. ‘Yes, I love winters too and you are right. A lot of people feel hungrier during the cold season because our body needs to generate more heat to stay warm. But do you know that eating healthy foods is very important in winters? You can easily catch a cold or fall sick if you don’t eat the right winter foods.’ Ahana looked at him interested. ‘Really? What are the foods that we must eat during the winters? And please I hope they are very tasty too,’ said Ahana.
And so Aviram decided to explain to Ahana in detail. ‘Fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables are perfect for the winters. Actually, we must try and eat seasonal fruits, such as oranges, guavas, apples, strawberries, sweet lime or papaya. Also, a lot of green and leafy vegetables are available during the winter, such as juicy carrots, radish, beetroots, green peas, cauliflower and of course spinach,’ he said.
‘Just like Popeye,’ shouted Ahana excitedly, ‘I love spinach too.’ Aviram was glad Ahana liked her vegetables but a lot of credit also went to his mother who cooked excellent dishes. They all loved eating curries, palak-paneer and the yummy vegetable and fruit salads that she made and stuffed paranthas. And of course, because it’s winter they also enjoyed a warm bowl of vegetable soup that was easy to lick off in no time.
‘We should also try and eat a lot of dry fruits during winter,’ continued Aviram. ‘They are healthy and help keep our body warm. Almonds, cashews, raisins, walnuts, pistachios and even dates are delicious and perfect to eat during winters.’
‘Oh, is this why grandmas keep making those yum sweets and halwas with lots of ghee and dry fruits,’ asked Ahana. ‘Yes,’ said Aviram proud of his little sister, ‘you are right. Carrot halwa and sesame and gram flour laddoos are so wonderful and full of nutrition. Plus when they are warm they just melt in your mouth right.’
‘Do you know of other sweets, which we can have during winters,’ said Ahana happily. She loved sweets. Aviram thought for a while. He knew that many different places in India were famous for their particular winter foods. ‘In Gujarat, a vegetable dish called ‘undhiyo’ is made especially during the winters,’ he said. ‘Also, people in many parts of north India love to eat corn roti with butter or ghee during this season. These meals are heavy and filling so that people like you don’t keep feeling hungry again and again,’ he laughed.
Ahana looked crossly at him. And what about the other parts of the country she asked. ‘Well in West Bengal a delicious sweet dish called ‘Nolen gurer sandesh’ is prepared. But laddoos and halwas of different kinds are also common almost everywhere. Oh, and there is this thick drink made in Gujarat and Rajasthan called ‘raab’. It’s like a porridge that is super healthy and keeps you really warm,’ said Aviram.
‘Wow, I didn’t know there were so many special winter foods that we could eat,’ said Ahana. ‘Thank you, brother. I will make sure to not have cold or chilled things in winter too. ‘Yes, yes, India has 8 to 9 months of summer to have ice creams and puddings. We just have 3 months to relish these sweets’ said Aviram ‘but remember another thing. We generally do not feel very thirsty during the winters, but we must be careful and keep drinking lots of water too.’ Ahana was confused and asked, ‘but why should we drink water, if we are not feeling thirsty’? Brother said, ‘we do not realise, but our body can dehydrate in winters too. So water and fluids are very important.’
Right, but Ahana had another problem. ‘Brother, after you mentioned all these yummy dishes, I am hungry again! Can we eat something now?’ she said. Aviram couldn’t help smiling and went about the kitchen fishing for something else to eat.