Happy Makar Sankranti
Many names .... One nation .... India.
Every region of India celebrates the start of spring and the winter harvest. The abundance of winter crop yields is a thing to be thankful for. As we celebrate the harvest festival, it is also the time to acknowledge changes in weather, daylight, temperature, and foods that will come in the following seasons.
The spring festival celebrates foods that are harvested and ready for distribution and consumption. Every region has its specialty crop harvest - wheat in the north, rice in the south & east, millet in the west. The abundance of leafy vegetables and a variety of beans and root vegetables make for the perfect combination of warm hearty meals on chilly nights.
Traditionally, to celebrate, every community uses specific ingredients to make a mouthwatering sweet that provides energy from the jaggery; protein from the nuts and seeds like peanuts and sesame seeds; and the insulating hug of fat from ghee. Locally grown cereals and millet are often added to the celebratory food too, to celebrate it!
Here are some of the benefits of the ingredients used in traditional foods like Pongal (savory version) and Tilgul Ladoo, the quintessential foods of this festival and season, with their recipes.
1 cup rice
2 tablespoons ghee
A pinch of asafoetida
A handful of curry leaves
water as required
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons ginger paste
1 cup moong dal
salt as required
1. Take a pan and add moong dal to it. Dry roast till it turns golden and aromatic.
2. Wash the same under running water and transfer it to a deep pan along with rice and enough water to submerge both.
3. Bring it to a boil and turn off the flame, once well-cooked.
4. Add salt according to your taste and keep it aside.
5. Sauté ginger with spices & add the dal-rice mixture.
6. Next, place a pan on medium flame and pour ghee. Once heated, add cashews and fry until they change their color to a golden brown.
7. Once done, take out and keep aside.
1. Heat oil in a heavy pan(kadhai) on a medium flame, while stirring continuously r sesame seeds till they turn light brown(if you crush it with your hands, seed should turn to powder). Do keep in mind not to burn sesame seeds as they tend to burn instantly giving them a bitter taste.
9. Add the dal-rice mixture and stir well for about 5 minutes.
10. Let it simmer, then garnish with cashews. Then simmer for about 3-4 minutes on medium flame.
10. Lastly, turn off the flame and transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with cashews. To make it look even more eye-catching, you can serve it with some lightly fried coconut slices, dry curry leaves, and some roasted red chilies to spice up this traditional South Indian recipe.
Til(sesame seeds) - 500 grams/4 cup
Gur(jaggery) - 500 grams
Ghee - 2 tsp
1. Heat oil in a heavy pan(kadhai) on a medium flame, while stirring continuously roasting sesame seeds till they turn light brown(if you crush it with your hands, seed should turn to powder). Do keep in mind not to burn sesame seeds as they tend to burn instantly giving them a bitter taste.
2. Take out the roasted sesame seeds and grind lightly or put it in a mixer and make it a coarse powder.
3. Break off Gur into small pieces. Pour 1 spoon Ghee in a pan and heat. Now melt Gur on a low flame, turn off the instant Gur melts.
4. Put the crushed roasted sesame seeds in the melted Gur and blend well. Til Gur mixture for making Ladoos is ready.
5. Apply Ghee with hands and make mixture smooth. Take a little amount(about 1 tbsp) of mixture at a time(mixture has to be hot for making Ladoo, as mixture turns rigid when cold hence, making it difficult to make Ladoos). Make round shaped Ladoo and place it on a plate, similarly make Ladoos of the remaining mixture and place them on the plate. Let then dry for 1-2 hours and they are ready to eat.