Makar Sankranti is one of the most auspicious days for the Hindus, and is celebrated in almost all parts of the country in myriad cultural forms, with great devotion, fervor & gaiety. On Makar Sankranti, the sun enters the sun-sign of Capricorn or Makara (Hindi name for Capricorn).
The word ‘Sankranti’ signifies the movement of the sun from one zodiac sign to another. Thus, the name of the festival literally means the movement of the sun into Capricorn. From this day, the duration of the day increases and that of the night decreases and winter recedes, paving the way for summer.
Millions of people take a dip in rivers like Ganga Sagar & Prayag and pray to the Sun god. It is celebrated in southern parts of the country as Pongal, and in Punjab is celebrated as Lohri & Maghi. Gujarati’s not only look reverentially up to the sun, but also offer thousands of their colorful oblations in the form of beautiful kites all over the skyline.
Gur/Jaggery and Til/Sesame seeds are one of the main ingredients used for making sweet dishes on this festival. Different recipes are made all over India ranging from lip-smacking sweet and savory dishes. I remember pouring in popcorn into the special bonfire lit up every year on the occasion of Lohri and shoving in raw potatoes and sweet potatoes in the fire once it was about to subside. For the delicious potato chats, we made with those firewood roasted potatoes!
Here is my collection of personally tried and experimented special dishes this year for Makar Sakranti. So put on your chef’s hat and exhibit your cooking skills!
1. Jaggery coated caramelized popcorn
You will need: Jaggery, unsalted popcorn kernels
- Mix jaggery in little luke warm water. The amount of water should be just enough to soak the jaggery and make syrup of soft ball consistency.
- Combine the popcorn and jaggery syrup and mix very well.
- Let it cool completely and serve as a snack
- Kadhi Palak (Curdy Spinach and gram flour curry)
You will need: Gram flour/besan, chopped onions, Fenugreek leaves, Grated Ginger, Carom seeds (ajwain), chilli powder, salt, beaten sour yogurt, turmeric powder, fenugreek seeds, spinach leaves.
- Blanch spinach leaves in hot water for 4-5 minutes and chop. Heat oil in a pan add, and carom seeds (ajwain), sauté chopped spinach for 1 minute and keep it aside.
- For the curd batter/kadhi: Whisk the yogurt well. Add the gram flour and whisk thoroughly till smooth. Add the turmeric powder, salt and three cups of water and mix well. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and add the fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, red chilies, salt, ginger and sauté for a minute.
- Stir in the yogurt mixture, bring to a boil and cook on low heat for about fifteen to twenty minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chili powder and sautéed spinach, and continue to simmer for two to three minutes.
- Serve hot with steamed rice.
3. Sesame seeds and Jaggery balls (Til Aur Gur Ke Ladoo)
You will need lightly roasted sesame seeds, jaggery, dried and grated coconut, cardamom powder.
- Grind lightly roasted sesame seeds and jaggery to a coarse mixture using a mixer or a mortar and pestle.
- Transfer the mixture onto a plate, add dried coconut and green cardamom powder and mix well.
- Divide this mixture into equal portions and shape into lemon-sized balls
- Store in airtight jars.
4. Puffed Rice Balls (Kurmure ladoo)
You will need: Jaggery, puffed rice, clarified butter (ghee)
- Heat a non-stick pan; add clarified butter and jaggery, and cook till the syrup attains a soft-ball consistency.
- Add the puffed rice and mix.
- Divide into equal portions and shape into balls.
5. Bottle Gourd Slabs
You will need- milk, grated bottle gourd, mixed chopped nuts, dates syrup, cardamom powder.
- Grease an aluminum tray with sufficient ghee. Boil milk in a deep non-stick pan. Add grated bottle gourd and mix, cook till its volume becomes half and mixture becomes thick.
- Add half the chopped nuts and dates syrup. Mix well and cook for five to ten minutes.
- Remove from heat, pour into the greased tray and spread evenly. Sprinkle cardamom powder and remaining chopped nuts and set aside for an hour.
- Cut into desired shapes and serve.
6. Sesame slabs (Til chikki)
You will need: roasted sesame seeds, clarified butter (ghee) and jaggery.
- Heat clarified butter in the deep non-stick pan, add jaggery, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 3 minutes while stirring continuously.
- Switch off the flame, add the roasted sesame seeds and mix very well.
- When the mixture is ready, put the entire mixture over the back of a greased plate or a smooth stone surface.
- Roll it out thinly into a circle using a greased rolling pin.
- Cut them into square pieces using a sharp knife.
- Allow it to cool completely.
- Once cooled, store in an air-tight container.
7. Mixed Sprouts with beaten rice
You will need: beaten rice (chiwra), mustard seeds, chopped onion, slit green chilies, mixed sprouts lightly steamed, turmeric powder, salt, lemon juice, chopped coriander for garnishing.
- Place beat rice (chiwra) in a sieve and wash lightly. Drain and leave aside for 10 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the mustard seeds. Add onions and green chilies and sauté on a medium flame for a few minutes or till the onion turn light brown in color.
- Add steamed mixed sprouts and sauté on a medium flame for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the turmeric powder and salt. Mix well and cook on a medium flame for 1 minute.
- Add water, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add soaked and drained beaten rice (chiwra), lemon juice and mix well and cook on a medium flame for 1 to 2 minutes, while stirring continuously.
- Serve hot garnished with coriander.
8. Mustard and Spinach leaves Curry (Sarson ka saag)
You will need Mustard leaves, spinach, fenugreek leaves, finely chopped onions, finely chopped tomatoes, chopped ginger, ginger garlic paste, mustard seeds, salt.
- Wash the mustard leaves, spinach, fenugreek leaves and chop them finely.
- Add chopped ginger and pressure cook it for 45 minutes.
- Remove and grind the greens till it is well mixed. Add salt. Cook again over low heat.
- -Serve hot with a tempering of mustard seeds and ginger garlic paste.
9. Corn Bread (Makke ki roti)
You will need: maize flour, salt, carom seeds, chopped green chilles, grated ginger
- Mix all ingredients together and make a soft dough with water.
- Make flat and round breads or chapattis, grill them on a hot flat pan/tava till they turn golden brown and evenly cooked from all sides.
- Serve hot with white butter, Sarson ka saag and jaggery!
10. Spicy mixed Brown Rice and lentils (Khara Pongal)
You will need: lentils, brown rice, cumin seeds, peppercorns, asafoetida, grated coconut, slit green chili, turmeric, salt, roasted slit cashews
- Cook cumin seed, mustard seed, peppercorns, and asafoetida in hot oil for 2 minutes. Stir the lentils into the mixture and cook another 2 minutes. Add rice, grated coconut, green chili, turmeric, salt, and water and stir.
- Close the lid of the pressure cooker and slow cook about 35 minutes. Relieve the pressure from the cooker; stir the cashews into the mixture.
- Garnish with shredded coconut and serve.
Hope you will relish these recipes this Makar Sankranti!