Find your favorite in these 40 soul-warming dishes

Find your favorite in these 40 soul-warming dishes

Sput together under thick, soft blankets and sips for a strong cup of coffee is how I reluctantly welcome winter mornings. Almost nothing can force me to jump out of bed right away except the sinful woody scent of Jhola nolen gur (liquid date jaggery) served with rotis or pancakes for breakfast. Freshly picked up at local markets, this is liquid gold packed in earthen jars that can fill you with a comforting warmth just with a few drops.

But wait, sweet for breakfast? It is a common reaction from anyone who has never experienced the wonders of eating nolen gur dipped pancakes early in the morning. While it may sound strange to some, this is how most Bengalis fend off their winter phobia – earthen pots with Jhola nolen gur and peas kachuri, in addition to stockpiles of thick woolen and tubes of boroline.

Like Bengal, almost every state in India has a unique culinary tradition associated with the cold season.

Whether it is sweet or spicy, India has a long list of tasty foods that are specially prepared in the winters. While the map above shows 40 such foods out of hundreds, here are a few of my favorite items:

Gajar Ka Halwa (Gulerod Halwa)


An all-time favorite, ghee, that drips deliciously gajar ka halwa is lovingly cooked all over the country. With added dry fruits like almonds, cashews and pista, this sweet delicacy is cooked predominantly in the northern region of the country, in the winters, as it is the time for the best carrot harvest.



One of the lesser known winter specialties, Skyu is a traditional soup-like Ladakhi delicacy cooked with vegetables and wheat dough that has been kneaded into thumb-sized flat balls. These flat balls are cooked with water and root vegetables like carrots and turnips on low heat and served with meat. Said to be high in calories, this is a staple in the region to beat the temperature that often drops below freezing in winter. Another version of Skyu involves replacing water with milk as the main ingredient and is called oma (milk) skyu then.



Another culinary marvel from one of the colder regions of India, Gushtaba is a prominent dish in Kashmir cuisine. To refuse a bowl with Gushtaba is considered a huge insult to the host, and part of it is because of the love and patience that goes into cooking this tasty specialty. Made with chopped mutton balls that are slowly cooked in royal spices like cinnamon, cardamom, asafoetida, etc. along with curd, this is a rich preparation that is often served at the end of the meal. While the curd balances the heat, it is the spices, the meat and the mustard oil that make it the best hot food in the winters.

Jhola Nolen Gur

Source (LR): Good FoodBar; Kheer Kadamb

The crown jewel of Bengal’s sweet indulgence, Jhola nolen gur is the freshest batch of liquid date palm jaggery that has a complex sweet texture with woody and caramel undertones. It comes in two forms, the liquid is called Jhole nolen gur, while its solid version is called Patali gur. While both can be consumed individually without accompaniment, it is also used to prepare a variety of desserts such as. Pithe, Sandesh, Payesh. One of the must-have desserts is Nolen gurer roshogolla and payesh.



A work of love and time, Undhiyu is a winter delight of Gujarati cuisine that takes hours to prepare. A healthy treat away from the rich foods often consumed in other parts of the country in the winter, Undhiyu is a traditional curry made from mixed vegetables, spices and lots of ghee. It got its name from the popular word ‘undhu‘, which means upside down, as it is traditionally cooked upside down underground in matlu (earth pots) with constant fire from above.


Originating in the Awadhi cuisines of Lucknow, this lip-tasting meat-based delicacy will definitely warm up your winter mornings. A slow-cooked meat stew traditionally made with beef or mutton, Nihari usually taken for breakfast. This rich and spicy dish takes a lot of time to cook and is therefore cooked overnight and served with puris next morning. The meat, which melts the mouth wrapped with a mixture of flavors, is a must try.

Daulat ki Chaat or Malai Makhan

Source (LR): Facebook; Wikipedia

A sought-after sweet delicacy found in parts of the alleys of old (old) Delhi, Daulat ki Chaat or Malai Makhan is an iconic dessert that melts in your mouth in an instant. With a cloud-like consistency, the light sweetness is prepared by churning milk, cream, khoya or mawa until the point where it turns into soft frothy peaks. An early morning delicacy, this is served with a topping of dried fruits, sweetened mawa and saffron.

Chi Al Meh

Most of us have had our share of Thukpas but this northeastern delicacy is a flavorful bomb that is bound to ward off all winter chills. An authentic Manipuri dish, this delicious soup stew is made with vegetables like onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach with a lot of ginger, chili and other spices. Served alone as a healthy dish, Chi Al Meh can also be combined with noodles.

(Edited by Yoshita Rao)

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