Fall Greens for the South Asian Palate

In South Asia, fall is associated with resplendent colors, spectacular festivals, golden-hued rice fields primed for harvest, and the arrival of exotic, south-moving birds. The cooler weather is also a harbinger of a host of illnesses.

According to Kavita Mukhi, an Indian eco-nutritionist who puts together farmer’s markets, eating seasonal foods makes maintaining health simple and has the advantage of being fresher.  And, according to dietician Naina Setalvad, one surefire way to ascertain what’s in season is to “buy what’s available in abundance in its freshest avatar at your local market.” Here’s a bit more about what you can expect to be in season this fall, and how you can incorporate these into your dishes.

Tomatoes

These are easy to grow from homegrown seeds, even though you can find varieties from across the globe, such as heirloom or cherry tomatoes, at your marketplace. It’s packed with the antioxidant lycopene, vitamins C and K, potassium, and folate. Tomatoes are indispensable when it comes to making curries, rasam soup, kurma, and karela fry.

Eggplant

When roasted, this purple-hued vegetable becomes soft on the inside and darker on the exterior. A wonderful source of fiber, it contains vitamins A and C too. The insides are what delicious baingan ka bhartas are made of. You can also use them to cook main course dishes, such as bharwan baingain. They also work in salads, dips, and even lasagna.

Spinach

Spinach helps reduce oxidative stress. It contains iron, magnesium, and vitamins A, K, and C. Cook up a storm with this vegetable with saag bahji, a decadent spinach curry. You can also use it to put together a signature Indian dish like palak paneer, which is essentially spinach combined with Indian cottage cheese. Blend the palak paneer with some spices to fashion an aromatic curry.

Chawli

Also known as black-eyed beans, chawli, which contains zinc and folate, can be made into a basic curry. But you could also make masala chawli, which is an incredibly aromatic subzi. It also can join the medley of pulses that go into a mixed kathol, which is during festivals. It can go into a snack such as alasanda vada or into some steaming, healthy, French beans and carrot soup.

Dill

The Hindi term for this is savaa. Another name for it is Lao coriander. It is a great source of vitamin C, calcium, riboflavin, and fiber. It has a delicate, sweet aroma and its leaves and seeds are used in cooking. You can sprinkle dill seeds over root vegetables or pickles. The leaves can be used to make shepu bhaji, Indian fried dill potatoes or soya saag. Check out more mood-boosting ingredients to add to your meals here

Scallions

Also known as spring onions. These contain vitamin A, manganese, and copper. They are great in stir fries and raw vegetable salads. They are used in some South Asian dishes as spring onion curry, though you can also weave them into spring onion parathas, fried rice, or spring rolls. 

Cucumber

Nutrient-dense cucumbers, which contain beta carotene, electrolytes, and vitamin C, work well in a spicy Indian cucumber salad. Just add some red onion, tomatoes, chilli, coriander leaves, lime, roasted nuts, cumin, and poppadoms, and viola, you’ve made your tastebuds’ day. You can put them in with masala tomatoes, or even make a curry out of them.

Bell Pepper

Touted as a way to ease ostearthritis, this vegetable, also called capsicum, is rich in vitamin E in particular. Incorporate these into dishes such as capsicum curry, which includes a lovely masala gravy that complements pulao, rice, chapathi, and dosa. You can also stuff bell peppers with spiced potatoes, blend them into a savory rice dish, a kadai egg masala, biryani, or parotta. 

Gavar or Cluster Beans

This legume is native to Pakistan and India and helps aid digestion. Incorporate gavar into pumpkin to make a nutritious subzi or use to make panchmel ki subzi. You can also add chawli and capsicum to this dish. Or make gavar aur masoor dal with this. Simply add onions and tomatoes for a dal that oozes with flavor. Or cook a gavar bajra dhokli;  a combination of cluster beans and bajra that you can also serve with piping-hot phulkas.