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How to be Monsoon Ready, Beat Cravings and Stay Healthy

From monsoon recipes to home cures, we've got you covered

Annabelle D’Costa

Annabelle D’Costa

What unites India? While cricket probably tops the list, the sport is closely followed by monsoon and others. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, the whole of India unites in desperate wait looking for relief from the suffocating heat of summer. Finally, bringing to an end the sun’s autocracy, the arrival of the monsoon – dark clouds descending, reverberating with thunder and moist-laden cool winds gushing—offer more than just hope. If this reminds you of the Bollywood movie, Lagaan, you’d be right. Proof that Bollywood, too, finds it hard to resist the poetic charm of the monsoon.

However, before Bollywood could do it, classical Indian poets did it. Classical Sanskrit poet and dramatist Kalidasa wrote Meghduta, a lyric poem about how a cloud is a messenger between two lovers. Similarly, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote numerous odes to rains such as The Rainy Day and Oi Ashe Oi Oti Bhairob Horoshe.

Our tryst with the rains can probably be summed best in the words of Khushwant Singh who in his novel I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale writes: “What the four seasons of the year mean to the European, the one season of the monsoon means to the Indian. It is preceded by desolation; it brings with it hopes of spring; it has the fullness of summer and the fulfilment of autumn all in one.”

Splashing around in puddles, sailing little paper boats, setting out on long drives in the rains or simply enjoying that chai and/or cuppa joe (Old Monk rum, for others) with some crispy, bun-your-tongue hot pakodas are just some of the eccentricities that we’ve conspired to legitimise.

All this aside, Indian monsoon is not just about the romanticism. There is almost no aspect of the Indian life, be it politics or economy, which remains unaffected by the monsoons. The Indian monsoon accounts for up to 80 per cent of the rainfall in the country, with farmers being the most dependent on it.

When rainfalls are between 96 to 104 per cent of 89 cm, they are considered to be normal. However, if between 104 to 106 per cent, it’s above normal and more than 110 per cent is counted as excess.

Both deficient and excessive rainfall during monsoon has detrimental effect on not just India’s agricultural yield but, as a result, also the overall economy. This is primarily because food drives nearly half of India’s consumer price index—this is what Reserve Bank of India tracks before finalising financial policies for the nation.

Also read: 5 most delicious mangoes for the monsoon

Monsoon in Different States
The Southwest Summer Monsoon, responsible for the majority of precipitation in the country, typically pays its annual visit during the months of July to September. The factors responsible for Indian monsoons are complicated involving, atmospheric pressure, temperatures, etc. But to put it simply, monsoon’s moisture bearing cold winds rush into the warm landmass of the Indian subcontinent.

Monsoon winds get divided into two, the Arabian Sea Branch and the Bay of Bengal Branch. The former drops by the Western Ghats, while the latter sticks to the North-Eastern coast of India. The Arabian Sea Branch, accountable for bringing rains to the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and some parts of Tamil Nadu. The Arabian Sea branch of monsoon first hits the coastal state of Kerala around the first week of June and then advances northwards, covering the entire country by mid-July.

Monsoons 2019
In 2019, Skymet, a private weather forecasting and agri risk monitoring company, predicted that the rains would hit the islands on Bay of Bengal around May 22 and then in Kerala on June 4, with an error margin of two days. On the other hand, the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the country’s official weather forecaster predicted a "scattered to fairly widespread rainfall likely over northwest and northeast India and Bay Islands," over May 19-21, while "isolated to scattered rainfall" was expected over the South Peninsula, eastern India and the Lakshadweep islands.

However, contrary to all predictions, monsoon hit Kerala after a week’s delay on June 8. While the monsoon has hit Maharashtra and most parts of Gujarat, drought-prone Maharashtra is still facing a deficit. The situation remains critical, especially in the Vidarbha region.

On the opposite coast, the Bay of Bengal branch continues to bring widespread rains over the north-eastern states of Meghalaya and Assam, sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura. As per IMD, severe heatwave conditions continue in the eastern state of Bihar, some parts of coastal Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Jharkhand.

It was earlier in May that Cyclone Fani brought in furious weather, heavy rainfall in Odisha, West Bengal. Moving towards the north, it was on July 4 that the state of Delhi finally received some rain, thereby bringing down the soaring temperatures and offering some respite from the scorching heat. 

How to Prepare for a Drought or a Flood
India’s love-hate relationship with the monsoon is not an unfamiliar tale. It is best echoed in the current scenario where Chennai is battling a drought while Mumbai is waterlogged due to the unending downpour.

If it’s a drought that you’re facing, make certain that water-conservation practices are part of your everyday life. Small steps such as avoiding flushing the toilets unnecessarily, opting for quick showers and turning the tap off while brushing your teeth, washing your face or even shaving, could help preserve a lot of water.

On the other hand, if the stakes of your city getting waterlogged/flooded seem high, the trick is to stock up on essentials, so you are prepared for a lock down. Here’s a complete guide to all the essentials to hoard before the crisis.  

How to Get Your Home Monsoon Ready
Apart from wreaking havoc on the exterior of your house, rains can also stir up some serious irreversible damage when it comes to the look and feel of your home. From water-proofing your home, protecting your furniture to keeping your home pest-free, this comprehensive guide covers everything.

Moving to the kitchen, spoilage of food, whether cooked or uncooked, is yet another common problem during the rainy season. Blame it on power supply, microbial growth, or simply the increase in moisture in the atmosphere during the season, there is simply no escape. However, you could do yourself a favour by taking all the necessary precautions and getting a step ahead. Follow this guide to get your kitchen monsoon ready, and to ensure that the food stays fresh and doesn't become home to disease-causing bacteria or micro-organisms.

Also read: Should we really avoid leafy vegetables during the monsoon

How to Get your Diet Monsoon Ready
Think monsoon and the first thing that comes to our mind is a cup of garam chai , a plateful of bhajiyas or pakodas and maybe even a bowl of soupy Maggi. Sadly, the rains also bring with them a number of infections and illnesses that may dampen the otherwise happy monsoon. So, if you've already begun wading your way through rainwater to get to work, it's important that you prepare your body from within.

Start by saying no to street food, no matter how tempting those vada pavs and paani puris may look. If you still crave them, simply attempt to make them at home by following our no-fuss, step-by-step guide to your fave monsoon street snacks. And since the monsoon also equals to bhutta, hereare three ways you could make your monsoon a-maize-ing.

It is also important to stay hydrated, however only drink fresh or boiled water. Apart from chai, if you’re looking for other ways to keep your soul and body warm and cheerful even during the nippy weather simply drink your way to health, one shorba or soup at a time.

Avoid eating foods that have been left open for long and make sure these superfoods are part of your monsoon diet plan. In order to give your immunity a little extra boost, make sure you are also stocked up on these immunity-boosting foods. In addition to all these, make sure to throw in a bit of yellow power aka turmeric into all your meals so as to prevent yourself from getting under the weather. Here is a detailed guide to monsoon-proofing your diet.

Also read: Dips that pair well with garam bhajiya, pakodas or samosas

How to Satisfy Your Monsoon Cravings
Monsoon need not only be about healthy-eating. You are allowed to give in to your cravings and simply curl up in your warm blankets with these scrumptious and warm monsoon treats ranging from pakoras, samosas, bhajiyas and more. Wash all those oily treats with a cup of kadak masala wali chai. If you’re looking for other heartwarming alternatives, we’ve got you covered. From kahwas to hot chocolate, here are other hot beverages to help you keep warm.
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If you think you’re the only one who finds it hard to resist those rainy-day snacks, worry not. From Shahid Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif to Kriti Sanon and Priyanka Chopra, each of these celebrities have a weak spot for monsoon food.

Since the monsoon always makes us crave something warm and comforting, the Karkidaka Kanji , a tongue tickler from Kerala could just be the answer to all your monsoon woes. This monsoon Kanji is lauded for providing protection from seasonal ailments and niggles. Besides, the rains also pretty much seem to brighten the state’s culinary scene – from stuffed mussels to appams and biryani, there’s much more to choose from in order to feed those monsoon cravings.  In case you’re looking for some Malabari rainy-day snacks to add to your plate, this guide could help you save the trouble.

Apart from Kerala, the state of Goa, too, doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its monsoon offerings. In case you’d like to add a dose of health to your pakodas, simply give the taikilo pakoda recipe a try.

How to Stay on Top of Your Game This Monsoon
What if we told you that you can enjoy the piping hot roadside fried goodies and get wet in the rain without falling sick? Don't get us wrong, no doctor would ever recommend that. But if you follow a healthy lifestyle, by including immunity-boosting foods and making exercise the norm, you could shield yourself from monsoon illnesses.

If you’re looking for some fitspo, here are some celebrities who’ve got their fitness game on point and will instantly make you want to reach out for your yoga mat right now. Besides, you could instantly boost your health with these nutritionist-approved powders and flours. And as we all know, healthy meals are not just about adding healthy ingredients but also making way for healthy cooking methods. All you need to do is add a few tweaks to your traditional cooking methods so as to ensure you’re reaping maximum benefits from your daily meals.  

Also read: What fish should you avoid eating during monsoon

Despite monsoons bringing short-lived joy bringing troubles and ailments in its wake, you can’t take away the romance from it. For in the words of Kalidasa, it is on the monsoons that the “impregnation in the entire universe” rests.

Lead image: Shutterstock

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