Like all healthy food, boiled eggs are also guilty of being terribly boring
The day air bites at your face, heat oil in a deep pan, caramelise onions, add meat and fry till the ingredients are a golden brown. Then add ginger, salt and black pepper. Stir the ingredients around and wait for the fragrance to fill up the kitchen. Now fill half the pan with water. Let things come to a boil. Reduce the heat to lowest, cover the pan and let it simmer for at least an hour. Add more water if required. Read the newspaper, beat your Candy Crush score, try a crossword puzzle but do check on the broth from time to time to get your desired level of consistency.
This recipe works as a ritual of self-preservation. Chicken broth prepares you for the coming days.
I am terrified of the flu, and the slowness that comes with having it: nasal congestion, laboured breathing and a fever that you can taste in your mouth before it comes.
This is an unenviable position because catching it is a certainty. For a long time, winter has been about doing everything within my power to ensure that my defences are up. If someone at home has flu, it is reason for my little vacation from them. Of course, when the favour is returned eventually, I understand.
At home, winter means more broth and stews, but it also means boiled eggs turning up unexpectedly in various dishes. Curry that is great on its own, now has a plus one – a giant egg clumsily rolling around in it – no offence to the chicken that could have been, or the iconic aloo anda which I often get a strong craving for.
In gajar ka halwa, eggs add personality – a smooth creamy texture and hints of yellow – making it the perfect dessert for a dreary winter evening.
My family insists that eggs are good for boosting immunity. They do have science on their side. But like all healthy food, boiled eggs are also guilty of being terribly boring. It’s been a few years now that I have been secretly putting them back in the tupperware when no one’s looking. “The food is ba-barkat (blessed), it isn’t running out”, my mother remarked once. It was her way of letting me know that she had kept count of the eggs.
In gajar ka halwa, however, eggs add personality – a smooth creamy texture and hints of yellow – making it the perfect dessert for a dreary winter evening. Whosoever did this the first time was a true visionary. I feel much the same way about another dish, lamb trotters: whoever decided that paaye would be a hit saw the form in the stone.
Heavy, rich foods like saag and makai ki roti also magically taste better in the winter. There is a time and a place, after all. As the mercury drops and you feel the chill in your bones, chai and kehwa provide relief and warmth. Then the odd garam anda isn’t too bad either – eventually, one comes around.
What I look forward to the most is the season drawing to a close finally, the last of the winter fruits and the first days of the sun’s brilliance, when you can see the day transition and life seems to be a little less impossible. The air stops biting and the vulnerable can breathe a sigh of relief. There are scores who will have slept rough in the biting cold, who wouldn’t have had enough to eat; those who would have gone home without a day’s wage to hungry children, and those who would have stood on the roadside roasting corn and nuts engaging with customers who haggle over prices and waiting to catch the attention of drivers whooshing by in cars. These lived realities hold truths about social inequalities and implore us again to imagine a different future. Spring follows soon, and we hope that it never leaves.