Makar sankranti is on 14th January, Sunday. This auspicious and pious day signifies to bid adieu to the freezing winters and welcome the pleasant spring. Makar sankranti is celebrated in reference to god sun (Surya) to mark the maiden day of transit of sun into Capricorn (makar), that is, end of month with winter solstice and beginning of long days. This day also marks the harvest time for the farmers, primarily for the crops of sesame and thus the dishes are included in the celebration. It is known by different names in different parts of India, for example, Uttarayan in Gujarat, Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bhogali Bihu in Assam, etc.
Makar sankranti is celebrated with numerous social festivals, like, colorful decorations, singing community songs, kite flying, bathing in rivers, feasts, and preparing a huge number of delicious dishes whose hangover remains all year long. The dishes prepared in the Indian festivals have their individual aroma and significance, but the sankranti dishes have something special about them. The after taste developed after having a ladoo made of til is something kids wait for all year long. Sweets made using jiggery and sesame, pitha and halva, are among the highlighted specialties to watch for. We have come up with a list of best delicacies which you must try this year.
Til ke ladoo
Lovingly called til ke ladoo, it literally translates to the ladoo made up of sesame. It is a dish popular all over India and is a native of Bihar and Jharkhand, where it is called, Tilwa. There is a popular Marathi saying Til Gul ghya ani god god bol, which translates to English saying, “Eat Tilgul sweet and speak sweet as well”. This sweet is deep rooted in Indian culture. Since this is a season of sesame harvest, the most important sweet of it is made of it. Its preparation method includes roasting of sesame seeds, then mixing it with hot melted jiggery. This mixture, is then casted into small spheres known as ladoo.
Believed to have originated in the state of Rajasthan in the cultural town of Bikaner. Bikaner has been popular around the world for its trade mark cultural dishes and the most fantastic of all is Fini. It is made of pure ghee and flour, and comes in a wide variety of flavors. It is prepared by frying thoroughly rolled out flour dough all into ghee, which is then garnished along with roasted dry fruits and is served with sugar syrup and sweet milk. Here is a tip, don’t forget to try it on your next visit to Rajasthan.
This disc shaped dish, sweet in taste is also from a town Sonipat, in the state of Rajasthan and is traditionally associated with the festival of Teej, but is widely prepared and tested during the sankranti festival as well. Its recipe is pretty simple. When preparing the disc, milk batter and flour is poured in hot ghee and then cooked. The result is then dipped in syrup of sugar, garnished with dry fruits, and then served to all. It has many types, three of which are the most popular ones, Mawa, Malai, and the plain.
There is a unique way of celebrating the festival of makar sankranti in the Kumauni region of Uttarakhand. The festival in this state is lovingly called Ghughutiya and thus the dish Ghughute is important for its celebration. To prepare this dish, one is required to mix jiggery and wheat flour. This mixture is then beaten into a range of beautiful shapes like, knives, spirals, pomegranate flowers, etc. After this process, the mixture is fried in ghee and amalgamated together in different shapes. Children also wear it as garland and try to feed them to birds to symbolize the welcoming of migratory birds.
Dahi (curd) Chuda
An East Indian traditional specialty, it is marked for its contrasting taste in comparison to its simplicity. This dish is a simple mixture of chuda (flattened rice and chiwra) and homemade curd. On the place of traditionally used sugar, people on this day use jiggery as a sweetening agent. At some places this filling dish is supplemented with fresh vegetables or mango pickles. In most of the north Indian states, the beginning of this festival is marked by consumption of this dish.
This festival, being a harvest celebration, has Khichdi Papad as one of the oldest recipes in the world. In fact, no Indian celebration in north India is complete without the presence of aromatic Khichdi, and papad. It is a mixture of daal (lentils) and chawal (rice). In some places more items like boiled vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, carrot, and other seasonal items to make is a wholesome diet and to enhance the flavor.
Halwa is a trademark of Indian culture, a signature of India. No festival is there which lacks one or the other type of halwa. And the most fantastic thing about this dish is that, it can be made by anything grown in the field. There are a whole plethora of different types of halwa, be it sooji halwa, atta (flour) halwa, gajar (carrot) halwa, moong (a type of lentil) halwa, etc. the recipe for preparing is extremely simple. In case of grains, you must grind it to get smaller particles. Then put it into a small amount of oil in a container placed over a stove. After some times, keep adding milk and sugar slowly and keep mixing them gradually. And in case of fruit halwa, get the fruits garnished and follow the same procedure as done for the grain. It is a cult dish and you must try it this sankranti.
As the name suggests, this dish is the prime dish for this festival for people living in the state of Odisha. It is a mixture of grated coconut, ripe seasonal banana, pepper powder, cottage cheese, ginger, pomegranate and most importantly, powdered rice. Apart from the above mentioned articles, people customize it to add even more items to enhance the taste. It is primarily prepared in every temple of Odisha and served as a Prasad to the devotees.
With its origin is Morena, a small town in Madhya Pradesh, this item has become popular all over India for its distinct taste and aroma. To prepare it, sesame seeds are roasted first and then are folded in a mixture of sugar, water and a lots of ghee, along with cashew and/ or ground nut. This is then laid on a tray coated with ghee. In cooling down, this layer is then cut/ broken into different pieces and served along with other delicacies.
Puran poli: this dish is a birth child of Maharashtra and is enjoyed all over the world for its unique texture and flavor. It is basically a flatbread filled with jiggery and roasted sesame seeds. Its serving is particularly quite lavish, which is done with ghee poured over it.
Makar sankranti food has great significance and legacy dating back to the times of Mahabharata. It is a symbolic representation of completion in fooding process and healthy productivity. With this article coming to an end, we wish you all a happy makar sankranti, and may your life fly like a kite does.